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Consulting, Conscience, and the $16K NDA
April 12, 2010 12:46 PM   Subscribe

The Story He Was Offered $16,000 Not to Tell: A young quant, fresh from MIT, joins the world of international business consulting, is duly scandalized, and returns from the mountaintop to tell of the terrors beheld. Via Reddit.
posted by darth_tedious (95 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
oh fucking please. If that's the best story he has to tell in that realm get in fucking line.

Allow me to summarize "MIT geek gets hired, doesn't realize consulting isn't just about crunching numbers and 'thinking great thoughts'. Shocked to find intellectual dishonesty in a business fundamentally about getting people to hire you. Thinks precious intellingence is being wasted"

also someone who walks away from 16k because he won't sign the termination agreement over an NDA (which BTW there is absolutley nothing in that article which implies he knows anything that anyone hiring BCG doesn't already know) is just clueless. The only thing that would ever be enforced on someone that junior is if he attempted to sue them. They would never sue him for writing an article like this.

And you want to know something else - guys who think "excel craft" matters are why we had the entire financial meltdown.
posted by JPD at 12:58 PM on April 12, 2010 [22 favorites]


Parts 1 and 2
posted by Burhanistan at 12:59 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Staying silent was agonizing. Nominally, my job was to provide advice and aid in my client’s decision-making process. In practice, my job consisted of sitting quietly and resisting the urge to dissent.

For people not in the consulting/business world: There is a lot of truth in this article, regardless of whether or not you think the author is too precious, the way JPD above obviously does.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:01 PM on April 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


It was supposed to be Excel sheets and models, sifting through data to discover profit and loss, and helping clients make decisions that would add the most value for themselves, and by extension, society.

Whatever gets you through the day, pal.
posted by HumanComplex at 1:01 PM on April 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Still, I wondered what I would do if for some reason it turned out that I couldn’t get my head around the analysis?

Grammar-peeve: This is a declarative statement, so why does it have a question mark? I see this elsewhere, too, meaning statements with a question mark, as if it weren't clear that the statement was about a question somehow. Has the Queen's English moved on?
posted by fatbird at 1:04 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Boston Consulting Group was rated #3 best place to work by Fortune magazine last year.

The best part of this article for me was that the client didn't want to hear that they were likely to lose a billion dollars. They didn't want an analyst, they wanted a masseur and they got one. Everyone was happy!
posted by vanar sena at 1:04 PM on April 12, 2010


...MBA types are useless, idealistic new ones straight out of school doubly or triply so.
posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Whatever gets you through the day, pal.

The whole morality section is hilarious.
posted by Artw at 1:05 PM on April 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


It wasn’t just that I lost all motivation for my job; it was also that it is much harder than one would expect to do unsound analysis. There is an interesting kabuki dance to be done when crafting figures to fit a conclusion. The conclusion may be wrong, but you still need to make it believable. You still need numbers to fill out your PowerPoint slides, and the numbers need to have enough internal consistency not to throw up red flags at a casual glance. Honest analysis, even when it has weak areas, is easy to defend. If the numbers look fishy, there’s an explanation — you didn’t have direct data on such and such and had to use estimates from another report, or made a reasonable assumption somewhere. But when the numbers actually are fishy, and there’s no underlying logic to defend, you can’t have any rough areas for others to poke at. And when you know everything is fishy, you can’t tell what will look fishy to someone who hasn’t seen any numbers before.

Holy shit. This guy just described my last job. And no, I wasn't a consultant.
posted by LN at 1:05 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Altruistic Graduate Discovers Real World Isn't as Awesome as Expected
posted by Spatch at 1:06 PM on April 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


I giggled throughout that whole article. A degree from MIT and what he learned was that being smart and working hard have nothing to do with being successful as a consultant!

I'm working with consultants right now, at least they're actually doing stuff for us. Of course people who work here could do a better job, but hey, if that's how the company wants to spend its money, who am I to say anything?

I suppose some little pisher just out of school has a right to be naive, but his google-eyed wonder is just so silly!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:06 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't like to snark without cause, but unless there's some explosive stuff forthcoming in part 4, I don't really understand the hand-wringing over signing or not signing the $16k NDA because, as JPD suggests, it's not clear at all from the article that they are paying him hush money to conceal something explosive. (The $16k amount itself is strongly indicative of this as well, because according to Part 1, he would have started out at over $200k/year. At that rate, offering someone $16k to shut him up is about something really big is, well, silly.)
posted by Pontius Pilate at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2010


I had a very different reaction than JPD. I thought the article was a decent, if somewhat underwhelming, meditation on how the inherent bullshitting aspect of business consultation--in which consultants are often hired not to solve problems, but merely to justify a given company's poor decision making process--has its own way of chipping away at a person's sense of internal moral honesty. That is, you go in earnestly wanting to use your skills to solve problems, but often wind up just getting paid to shuffle papers and invent numbers for foregone conclusions. Some people learn to play that game and thrive, and others find the endemic dishonesty soul-crushing.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2010 [20 favorites]


My favorite consulting related story is from a friend who worked doing capex evaluation for commodity chemicals companies. Companies would hire them and say "we want to build a plant that does X will that make sense" Consultants would go away and do all of the super serious analysis this kid thought he was going to do. 90% of the time the answer was no - don't build. His firm failed once all of the potential clients realized they were always going to tell them no - even though the analysis was correct. They just wanted to build plants.
posted by JPD at 1:08 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The whole morality section is hilarious.

Indeed:
a man receives from the free market what he gives to it, his material worth is a running tally of the net benefit that he has provided to his fellow man. A high income is not only justified, but there is nobility to it.
Oh, you sweet, benighted thing.
posted by fatbird at 1:09 PM on April 12, 2010 [27 favorites]


I suppose some little pisher just out of school has a right to be naive, but his google-eyed wonder is just so silly!

It's really easy to piss on the guy, but having some experiences working with wealthy corporations from the Arabian peninsula, I can say that the atmosphere of confused entitlement abounds there. It would no doubt really be a drain for someone who burst out of a prestigious school hoping to actually do something rather than just be part of the blood letting fat shaving apparatus.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:10 PM on April 12, 2010


Just think how disappointed he will be when he answers that ad in Craigslist.
posted by Xoebe at 1:13 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's really easy to piss on the guy, but having some experiences working with wealthy corporations from the Arabian peninsula, I can say that the atmosphere of confused entitlement abounds there. It would no doubt really be a drain for someone who burst out of a prestigious school hoping to actually do something rather than just be part of the blood letting fat shaving apparatus.


Here's the thing - this wasn't par for the course for the Arabian Peninsula, this was par for the course for consulting. If it was the Arabian thing I'd give him a pass. All it would have taken for him to realize that consulting was a lot closer to this than his platonic ideal would for him to have actually read up on what consulting is really all about. There are gobs of sources for that.
posted by JPD at 1:14 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess I shouldn't be surprised at the tone of some comments, here.

Not all smart kids have figured out that consulting/i-banking/law/medicine/etc. aren't quite as advertised. This one has, and he's trying to get the word out (yes, quite preciously) to people like him. Some will listen, some won't, but at least he got there. He deserves more than yet another dose of drive by snark.

Most of this thread reads like your-favorite-_____-sucks, where _____=career, or school, or aspirational desires, etc. Yeah, the writer's likely not as evolved as you are, right now, but he's certainly farther along than I was at 22. Can you say the same?
posted by NoRelationToLea at 1:17 PM on April 12, 2010 [27 favorites]


These accounts are probably a lot more useful/interesting for the many, many people who really have no idea how business consulting and the business world in general operate, IMO. People inside that bubble tend not to realize they are an incredibly small minority of the population, and that their own notions of professional virtue aren't necessarily aligned with those of the general public.

Here's the thing - this wasn't par for the course for the Arabian Peninsula, this was par for the course for consulting.

This is also true.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:18 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


All it would have taken for him to realize that consulting...

You're chastising him for not having grown his shell. Which I understand to some degree (after all, who does not remember that first whiff of "oh, so this is how the world works" reality that greets you on your first job), but sometimes it's refreshing to be reminded on what happened to one's idealism and naivete back before one entered the dog-eat-dog workforce. We need these stories to keep our own more wordly selves from getting jaded.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:19 PM on April 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ruthless Bunny: "google-eyed wonder"

I was genuinely disturbed by this idea. It's like a fly's compound eyes, repeated forever, everywhere you look.
posted by alexei at 1:19 PM on April 12, 2010


I would have liked to have coined the term "prostisuit", but as usual google shows it as already taken.

A distant relative worked for BCG when I was a young lad. I tried in various ways to extract from him what it was that he actually did and what skills it required, but it was never clear. Once I finally entered the Real World, I worked out that it was some sort of circus tent palmistry, where you try as hard as possible to read what your client wants to hear and then pretend that fate has preordained it. About the only difference is the venue and the 1000 page report that nobody will ever read.
posted by vanar sena at 1:20 PM on April 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


It would no doubt really be a drain for someone who burst out of a prestigious school hoping to actually do something rather than just be part of the blood letting fat shaving apparatus.

I'm so tired and burned out at my lower paying nonprofit job that I would be more than willing to do this. My work is already drudgery and I reckon I'm nothing special. I just want to go home, relax, know I have enough money in the bank and sleep well at this point. We're paying Paris Hilton hundreds of thousands (possibly millions) to do nothing. She doesn't worry about making the world a better place. Paris Hilton isn't complaining.

Then again, I heard she has various diseases and so forth, so....wait, I need to think about this all a little more, preferably when I'm drunk. Can I do this excel craft business while being a tiny bit drunk? If so, sign me up please.
posted by anniecat at 1:20 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is it sort of like fudging spreadsheets?
posted by Artw at 1:24 PM on April 12, 2010


Not all smart kids have figured out that consulting/i-banking/law/medicine/etc. aren't quite as advertised. This one has, and he's trying to get the word out (yes, quite preciously) to people like him. Some will listen, some won't, but at least he got there. He deserves more than yet another dose of drive by snark.

This is so true. My poor dad tried to convince me to go on one career path and his argument was about income and security, and I was all dreamy eyed and said, No, I need to help people blah blah blah. My dad was right, of course, but you could have paid me a ton of money and I would have been very self-satisfied to walk away from it. Money was, weirdly, an abstraction for me, and my needs had been taken care of. also, all the books in the career center were about finding your passion and social justice and the mood on campus was like that too. I never once actually thought, what do I do every single day of my working life? What functions am I fulfilling in the small picture?

So my poor dad didn't have a chance of convincing me of anything.

I'm so tired. This has been the longest day ever. Sorry for whatever incoherent rambling I'm doing.
posted by anniecat at 1:25 PM on April 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Can you say the same?

To know banking and consulting at the junior level was lots a lots of lame boring grunt work and heaping teaspoon of intellectual dishonesty? yes. The only difference ten years later is that I realize it was more like a heaping cupful of intellectual dishonesty.

Use your career center, use the alumni network. Talk to people. I figured out what I wanted to do after watching a cavalcade of banks and consulting firms come walking through the door. I mean this is like basic truly unexceptional stuff that happens in the big business world. This is not "I was told I would be running the world, and I'm actually a security guard" this is taking a job w/ no due dilligence. To be fair part of this is the fault of BCG's recruiting. And certainly too many very smart kids get sold a bill of goods.
posted by JPD at 1:26 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. This guy just described my last job. And no, I wasn't a consultant.

Holy shit. This guy just described the opposite of my last job. And yes, I was a consultant. Seriously.
posted by davejay at 1:26 PM on April 12, 2010


So, what I am getting here is that we are mocking this person because we already understand and are resigned to the inevitability of the current ridiculous state of corporate culture which holds justification and deniability as more valuable than real analysis - in fact the same type of culture which precipitated the economic collapse. Is that right? Yeah, shut up, idiot!
posted by Nothing at 1:27 PM on April 12, 2010 [25 favorites]


Most of this thread reads like your-favorite-_____-sucks, where _____=career, or school, or aspirational desires, etc. Yeah, the writer's likely not as evolved as you are, right now, but he's certainly farther along than I was at 22. Can you say the same?

I wish I'd had the prepossession this guy demonstrates when I was his age. And the world would be a better place if more people reacted to the way things are in the way that he has.
posted by killdevil at 1:27 PM on April 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


I have trouble with someone who thinks it's ethical to go work in Dubai, but not to write fictional reports that the clients specifically ask for.
posted by jeather at 1:29 PM on April 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Book-smart kid is grossly, almost endearingly, naive. Story at 11.
posted by spiderskull at 1:29 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The guy actually wrote that the downside of the caste system there " is that as a westerner, I didn’t occupy the topmost rung." Castes are fine, as long as I'm on top, right?
posted by jeather at 1:32 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


no Nothing - that is not what I am mocking the kid for. What is mockable is that he presents this to the world like it is some tremendous revelation that BCG attempted to pay him to keep quiet about.

It is also mockable to someone who so clearly prides him self on his superior analytical skills and probably considers himself as one of the smartest people in the room utter failed in performing any sort of due dilligence before he took this job.
posted by JPD at 1:33 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


is it so terrible to be idealistic? I'd hope there are jobs out there that empower you and engage you - they can't all be soul-killing...
posted by ananda gale at 1:38 PM on April 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


davejay, I have no doubt that there are consultants out there that do good, honest work, and good for you for being part of that group. But I have been asked to do something akin to what the author describes; make numbers back up an already-decided upon assertion, and make it look believable. And I worked at an NGO that supposedly did solid research! I can totally understand how demoralized he got.

I get as disgusted with this kind of thing as I do with false advertising.
posted by LN at 1:40 PM on April 12, 2010


The guy actually wrote that the downside of the caste system there " is that as a westerner, I didn’t occupy the topmost rung."

Yeah. Wtf, guy. And that quote...wow. I think the most naive thing about the story and this thread is the expectation that this guy will someday get a clue.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:42 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


jeather--I get what you're saying, and I'm not at entirely unsympathetic with it, particularly since a place like Dubai keeps women oppressed, is rife with corruption, and has a terrible habit of mistreating and virtually enslaving its migrant workers (the ones who build all those fancy buildings), but I also wonder, in terms of the larger sociology: is a place like Dubai (or for that matter Lagos, Palermo, Moscow or any other perceived cesspool of corruption) really, in the final analysis, any more corrupt than New York or Chicago?

Please keep in mind that I don't know the answer to that question, although I think it's worth contemplating. For instance, it may be that the American (or just "western") equivalent of an economic caste system is just harder for us to recognize b/c we're in the middle of it (and have been conditioned to believe that America is less corrupt and more egalitarian). Either way, the last few years in our Enron-styled system of capitalism have really tried my belief in any kind of American ethical exceptionalism. I think we just excel at putting a smiley face on these things.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 1:44 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


This one has, and he's trying to get the word out (yes, quite preciously) to people like him. Some will listen, some won't, but at least he got there. He deserves more than yet another dose of drive by snark.

I don't know. If you read the morality section, his "can I explain this to my kids?" test demonstrates that he's willing to become the biggest hypocrite he needs to be to pay for the most expensive education possible for his kids.

And his conclusion is that $16,000 wasn't quite enough for him to keep his silence. It's not much money in the grand scheme of things, you see.

I think some snark is warranted.
posted by fleacircus at 1:45 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


As far as I can tell all this piece is,is advertising for BCG. Ooh,Ooh I'll hire them and they'll tell me what I want to hear. Sounds like exactly what I want in an employee. The supply of smart college grads looking to make 200k a year is by in large inexhaustible.
posted by Rubbstone at 1:47 PM on April 12, 2010


Most of this thread reads like your-favorite-_____-sucks, where _____=career, or school, or aspirational desires, etc. Yeah, the writer's likely not as evolved as you are, right now, but he's certainly farther along than I was at 22. Can you say the same?

I don't really think your characterizing this correctly. Had he left out the sections where he made this sound like he was both "a free marketeer" (a phrase I like for its resonance with Privateer), and also like he was the most moral person going, then I would have cut him more slack. But, as it is, he seems to say in one breath that he supports this thing that is shitty and oppresses huge number of people (the "free" market), and that his morals get in the way when he realizes that the free market is a dirty little place. They don't get into the way enough to have him question his underlying assumptions, just enough to have him feel self-righteous about his decision not to participate, this time.

But I'm really confused about his part:

To destroy a billion dollars is to destroy...

How is one company "losing" a billion dollars destroying it. Isn't the beauty of the market that those who contribute "the most" get to take your money when you make a bad play? If someone else is getting richer, then that billion dollars isn't destroyed.
posted by OmieWise at 1:53 PM on April 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


So, I walked away from this article with the impression that the business consulting sector is largely morally deficient, ethically corrupt, dishonorable, incompetent, etc. Especially given the context of a large firm such as BCG. Aren't there stories of positive experiences in working in this field?

And I mean, beyond only monetarily positive experiences.
posted by polymodus at 1:53 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


JPD :Here's the thing - this wasn't par for the course for the Arabian Peninsula, this was par for the course for consulting.

While arguably true, I still don't think you can blame him. Yes, you can read plenty of stories about consulting as a form of externalized self-delusion service, but usually those occur in the context of the "bad" ones.

Personally, I have done a bit of IT consulting (which admittedly may differ substantially from financial consulting), and found it almost the polar opposite from what TFA describes. As with TFA, most people don't understand what I tell them, they only know the end result they want; But I find that people always want a solution that works. They may have entirely the wrong preconceived notions in mind when the first describe what they want, but they absolutely do not want me to justify wasting money.

The closest I've come to what TFA describes, a company wanted me to make their (poorly tracked) inventory counts work. Five minutes playing with the data made it entirely clear that I basically had random numbers to work with (in more than a handful of cases, the act of using raw materials to make finished products appeared to leave them with more of the raw material than they started with - And I did have access to fairly accurate purchasing records, so could rule that out as a source of error). Explaining this to the Boss just made him more and more angry, and he made it clear that I should just make the numbers work.

So, excluding almost half the data as "human error" in physically counting, the other half gave me enough to work with to come up with some totally garbage summary statistics, as well as a handful of exemplars that (purely by chance) behaved exactly as expected. Come up with a few pulled-from-my-ass sources of error for the lower end of the data, and call it good.


So yeah, I'd probably find myself somewhat disillusioned in the same situation as the author of TFA. I found doing it for just one task incredibly exhausting; Having to do it day in and day out, week after week, year after year? I'd either end up killing myself or going postal.


And you want to know something else - guys who think "excel craft" matters are why we had the entire financial meltdown.

I will say this as a programmer who has "rolled his own" in the realm of analysis; as a person with hands-on experience in research methodology; as someone who knows how do crunch the numbers by hand if necessary - Excel, without even resorting to scripting, does a damned fine job of doing anything up to and including polynomial regression. The real "problem" with using it boils down to trusting whatever crap it spits out with zero understanding of whether or not that makes sense.

And it doesn't matter what tools you use, you still need to know how to look an an answer and accept it or cry "BS".
posted by pla at 1:56 PM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have done a bit of IT consulting (which admittedly may differ substantially from financial consulting)

In many cases, it's like comparing night to day.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:59 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


The real "problem" with using it boils down to trusting whatever crap it spits out with zero understanding of whether or not that makes sense.


If it was unclear that is what I meant with my shot at "Excel Craft"
posted by JPD at 1:59 PM on April 12, 2010


Excel Craft

This phrase could refer to a) bad quants b) all quants and their practices today c) the very idea of using quanitative analysis in business and finance c) the product Microsoft Excel d) software tools in general for quantitative analysis

So yea, it was unclear what you were shooting at.
posted by polymodus at 2:09 PM on April 12, 2010


I think it's telling that this kid was taking 7-10 courses a semester, got his MBA, and emerged without even the most basic conception of the business world. Do they really not have any sort of practical education at MIT, maybe stuff from people who actually work or worked in the field?
posted by kafziel at 2:10 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh man! If you think this story about a guy who finished school and got a shitty $200K-a-year job is nuts, wait til you hear the story about the guy who finished and got no job AT ALL!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:17 PM on April 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


What I learned is that burning out isn’t just about work load, it’s about work load being greater than the motivation to do work.
Yes, grasshopper. You have learned well. It is time for you to leave us.
posted by clvrmnky at 2:19 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


To destroy a billion dollars is to destroy an almost unimaginable amount of human well-being.

MIT is failing to give a good education in economics, which would tell you that money is never "destroyed." Just because you lose a billion dollars doesn't mean society gets screwed.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:20 PM on April 12, 2010


is a place like Dubai (or for that matter Lagos, Palermo, Moscow or any other perceived cesspool of corruption) really, in the final analysis, any more corrupt than New York or Chicago?

I think in the Western world it has just ossified into its own industry called contract law. You don't pay the registrar directly, you pay an ordained intermediary to cast a spell of security and plausible deniability over business transactions.
posted by Babblesort at 2:21 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was uzzled by this sentence: There is an interesting kabuki dance to be done when crafting figures to fit a conclusion. All I can say is that would be an interesting kabuki dance. Especially when all those old guys in the cheap seats start shouting.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:27 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it's telling that this kid was taking 7-10 courses a semester, got his MBA, and emerged without even the most basic conception of the business world.

It still surprises me how this is the norm and not the exception.

Do they really not have any sort of practical education at MIT, maybe stuff from people who actually work or worked in the field?

Of course not. You're talking MIT here, not some low-brow state school! You expect these people to have actual experience in what they're teaching and researching? Just look at all the great academic economists that continually ignore the obvious.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 2:29 PM on April 12, 2010


You know what bothers me about this? It's not the naivete about what being a consultant is like. It's the tone that implies this experience was special, and that "do what you're told" and "shut up when it's not going to make any difference" isn't what 95% of everyone's working life is like.

In other words, he still thinks his experience was especially dramatic or interesting, enough so to write a four-part series of articles about. I think what a lot of people here are reacting so negatively to is that continued presumption of specialness.

Read this over in 20 years, kid, when you've had some more jobs, and you'll be as embarrassed as we all are for you right now.
posted by rusty at 2:31 PM on April 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


It would be one thing if he were this naive and went to work for, oh, I don't know, Teach For America or something. Or any one of the other places that bright-eyed kids do before they wake up one morning and realize that they'd better get cracking on their 401k or they're going to be eating a lot of Alpo in their retirement.

But he decided to be a consultant. It's not exactly a save-the-world occupation; even moreso than law, it has a reputation for mercenary behavior. If I was feeling just a little bit more cynical, I'd say that consultants do for the corporation what high-priced call girls do for the executives. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but the first (billable) day I started working as a consultant, at a firm that will remain nameless, the senior partner who was running the show took me out to lunch and gave me the no-BS 'Here are the Rules of the Game' talk.

It basically boiled down to three points:

1. The key to success is billing hours. If you want to get promoted, you bill.
2. The way to get more hours is to keep the client happy.
3. Whatever the client wants, you do. It doesn't matter what you did in school or how many degrees you have. They're paying; if they want you to make coffee, you make the best goddamn cup of coffee they've ever had.

To varying extents, those general rules have held true at every consultancy and every engagement I've ever worked on, although they're not always that direct.* Sometimes, "keeping the client happy" means delivering really bad news and taking the bullet for it. Nodding and smiling at the Emperor's invisible clothes only works for so long — knowing when to shut up and when to call someone out is what separates a good consultant from a bad, or at least mediocre, one.**

I don't know what the kid in the article thought he was getting into. But on the bright side, kudos to him for getting out once he realized it wasn't for him; I've met a lot of people who realized they hate the job, but then kept doing it for some reason or another — that's no way to live.

* I have worked at some firms that soft-pedal on the "bill well and live" rule. However, even the kinder, gentler consultancies still seem to prefer consultants who bill to those who don't, and when times get tough, it always seems to be the people who don't bill that get let go first. (Funny how that works.)
** Granted, individuals and even whole firms seem to be able to survive far longer than they ought to by bleeding their clients — at least in an up market; down markets seem to curtail the most egregious bilking.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:34 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had a similar experience to this person's in one of my first jobs with regards to severance and the "don't say anything negative about us, now here's some cash" clause. It stung because my employer was laying me off, and at the same time saying they didn't trust me.

It was a company I had worked hard for and done well for, and I felt a real bond with my soon to be ex-co-workers.

I didn't sign either.
posted by zippy at 2:38 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


jeather wrote: "Castes are fine, as long as I'm on top, right?"

I didn't get the impression that was what he was saying. I thought the surrounding context implied that he disfavors the caste system, but taking it as a given that it is there and there is nothing one can individually do to change that, one's life will necessarily be easier if one inhabits the top tier.
posted by wierdo at 2:40 PM on April 12, 2010


Excel, without even resorting to scripting, does a damned fine job of doing anything up to and including polynomial regression.

The problems with the use of Excel are legion. Since you mention it, that page links to three whole chapters on the problems with use of Excel for regression analysis of various sorts.
posted by grouse at 2:50 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the writer's likely not as evolved as you are, right now, but he's certainly farther along than I was at 22. Can you say the same?

I could poke fun and snark too, but, but .....

Sure, he's naive, and sure, he's got a sense of specialness. Still and all, I can remember writing opinion pieces for my college rag that were filled with much the same naivete and much the same sense of snowflake-ness (albeit about nothing related to consultancy or the business world).

Things have changed a lot since then, but I think those traits are still endemic to people who are at a particular age. And perhaps those traits are far less worthless than the cynical world that will soon enough stomp them into pulpy oblivion believes.
posted by blucevalo at 3:09 PM on April 12, 2010


This is so true. My poor dad tried to convince me to go on one career path and his argument was about income and security, and I was all dreamy eyed and said, No, I need to help people blah blah blah. My dad was right, of course

That very much depends on the person. For some people a job with income and security but no fulfillment is slow death, though a lot of people feel like this when they're young and grow out of their naive idealism. For some of us it never goes away.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:10 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


It still surprises me how this is the norm and not the exception.

Hell, that's the norm in a lot of fields. I know a great number of disillusioned Computer Science graduates, though to be fair a lot of us lived through the dot bomb.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:15 PM on April 12, 2010


I can't get a basic IT helpdesk job without an A+ certification, and this yahoo gets to make powerpoints all day for six figures. And he burns out on that.
posted by hellojed at 3:21 PM on April 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


Thank you JPD...I imagined after some reading that there might be a story buried somewhere within but could not find one...your summing up at least pointed out what it was supposed to be about. What is needed: a consulting editor.
posted by Postroad at 3:27 PM on April 12, 2010


MIT is failing to give a good education in economics, which would tell you that money is never "destroyed." Just because you lose a billion dollars doesn't mean society gets screwed.

Granted in this case. But doesn't the government more or less create and destroy money with fractional reserve banking, specifically quantitative easing and tightening?
posted by krinklyfig at 3:28 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wasn't sure what to make of the guy. Then I read his other pieces, not about Dubai.

Christ, what an asshole.

Realize that, no matter what he now says about his conscience, he stayed on that tit until someone else pulled him off.
posted by NortonDC at 3:32 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


this kid was taking 7-10 courses a semester, got his MBA

I don't think this kid has an MBA. In the first link he calls himself a "nuclear engineer".
Is it scary if it costs $200,000 a year to get a nuclear engineer from MIT to move to a repressive country in the Middle East and do work he finds morally repugnant?
posted by Drab_Parts at 3:38 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


But doesn't the government more or less create and destroy money with fractional reserve banking, specifically quantitative easing and tightening?

Yes and no. Another way to look at it is that you are increasing or decreasing the value of money already in circulation, relative to other currencies. I see what you're getting at, though.

But the author seemed to be making the classic mistake of the misinformed -- that there is a fixed amount of money in the world, and if I take two slices of the pie, someone has to go hungry. "Oh no, I can't help these people lose $1 billion -- it'll mean there will be no mosquito nets for the needy!" Well, actually, the $1 billion isn't going to magically disappear into the ether. It's going to be paid to someone. How do you know that someone won't use it to employ people and help the needy?

Hell, take your money, put it into a pile and burn it. You'll have lost $1 billion, sure. It would have been great to give it to the needy, but even burning the money didn't destroy it. All you did was make everyone else's money worth a tiny bit more.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:45 PM on April 12, 2010


I’m a free marketeer. I believe that voluntary exchange is not just a good method of incentivizing people to provide their labor and talents to society, but a robust moral system — goods and services represent tangible benefit to people, market prices represent the true value of goods in society, and wages represent the value that a worker provides to others. Absent negative externalities or monopoly effects, a man receives from the free market what he gives to it, his material worth is a running tally of the net benefit that he has provided to his fellow man. A high income is not only justified, but there is nobility to it.

So, an unpleasant fact: the sorts of high incomes that can come with the consulting/investing/whatever sectors of the business world are basically only possible because of the kinds of negative externalities the author so casually sidesteps. Many of the profits of large manufacturers are possible because of cheap (read: slave) labor in other parts of the world. Big agribusiness makes a lot of money from monocultures and the destruction of traditional, less efficient farm economies. As noted in this article, much of the consulting world operates by increasing the net amount of complete bullshit in the world. I think this is an okay piece about how some parts of the quote-unquote real world actually operate, and considering the source it isn't going to be too radical, but the naive free-market approach this kid (and shit, I'm his age) has taken makes me sad.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 3:55 PM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I experienced some of this disillusionment when I went to the GDC, but it was lessened to an extent because I know the realities of the game industry. Now, of course, I know what they're looking for, but I wouldn't know that having not exposed myself in the way that I did. The digipen students were mostly grumpy, since the GDC was spring break, at least they got to talk to some people.

The indie game "scene" was something I did not expect to get shocked by. Lots of posturing and brow-beating. Seth Green clones running around talking about stuff. There was a Spainiard with a weird haircut that I wish I had gotten a chance to talk to, he made the game Today I Die and explained his long, tortured creation process. I guess I was expecting friendlier people.

What I did not expect was for Valve to talk to me. They held a "what valve looks for when we're hiring" seminar, which was akin to a baptist revival. They told me things that didn't make sense. We don't care about your degree or industry experience. We only care if you make something that impresses us, and if it does we will hire you. What? No. UnhandledException! I just have to MAKE something cool, and you'll let me work for you? Uhh. okay.

This was one of the few positive experiences out of the week (Outside of getting a free droid). Sometimes a little disillusionment can be healthy.
posted by hellojed at 3:58 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just wait until they put him in The Cube.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:10 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, the BCG. Great guys.

They once interviewed me for a job. Besides the usual case studies, we talked about the current economy. This was early 2007 and I told them about the sub-prime mortgage crisis and about a recession I suspected to come. Things were obvious at this stage if you were a critical thinker and also thought a little but outside the box (Austrian school of economics etc.). I must add that I have a PhD in engineering and no formal business education. My interview partner, who consulted for insurance companies, had never heard about the sup-prime mortgage crisis and was surprised about me negative outlook towards the economic situation.

To cut a long story short: They rejected me and told me that I have no understanding of economics and recommended me to "read the business part of the newspaper more often". The stock market crashed a few weeks later.

Hey, anyone has a job for me?
posted by yoyo_nyc at 4:13 PM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think the article would've been better if he'd mentioned where he went to college.
posted by metric space at 4:19 PM on April 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just have to MAKE something cool, and you'll let me work for you? Uhh. okay.

Running joke among my colleagues, when asked by students how to break into the games industry: "OK, first things first -- quit school. Now..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:25 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've never felt better about not going to bed with a certain BCG consultant once upon a time.
His disbelief at my resistance given my reputation was unassuaged by my arguments that his failure to explain his erstwhile "job" only reminded me of my father coming to kindergarten career day and trying to explain what a "stockbroker" was for. Consultant, yeah.
posted by emhutchinson at 4:52 PM on April 12, 2010


As a younger person who has literally no conception for what the consulting industry does, I found this article enlightening.

And if you worked your butt off through college to discover you don't need anything you worked so hard to learn to work some insanely overpaying job then you'd feel a little uneasy too.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 5:09 PM on April 12, 2010


So, what I am getting here is that we are mocking this person because we already understand and are resigned to the inevitability of the current ridiculous state of corporate culture human nature which holds justification and deniability as more valuable than real analysis

Fixed that for you.

Which is kind an obnoxious trope, but for realskis. The kind of people who will pay you $10 million to tell them that they suck their ideas are dumb and whatever they want to do won't work are black pearl rare, in this or any other world.
posted by Diablevert at 5:24 PM on April 12, 2010


is it so terrible to be idealistic? I'd hope there are jobs out there that empower you and engage you - they can't all be soul-killing...


When your ideals are thus:
I’m a free marketeer. I believe that voluntary exchange is not just a good method of incentivizing people to provide their labor and talents to society, but a robust moral system — goods and services represent tangible benefit to people, market prices represent the true value of goods in society, and wages represent the value that a worker provides to others. Absent negative externalities or monopoly effects, a man receives from the free market what he gives to it, his material worth is a running tally of the net benefit that he has provided to his fellow man. A high income is not only justified, but there is nobility to it.

My moral system is organized around a utilitarian principle of greatest good for the greatest number — that which adds value cannot be wrong. It did not bother me therefore when I was handed consulting reports that had been stolen from our competitors. If the information in those reports would help us improve our client, then who could say we were doing wrong? Like downloading MP3s, it was a victimless crime.
and
The guy actually wrote that the downside of the caste system there " is that as a westerner, I didn’t occupy the topmost rung." Castes are fine, as long as I'm on top, right?
Yes, then being an "Idealist" is wrong. And terrible, in fact.
How is one company "losing" a billion dollars destroying it. Isn't the beauty of the market that those who contribute "the most" get to take your money when you make a bad play? If someone else is getting richer, then that billion dollars isn't destroyed.
Yeah, for a freak market lover he didn't actually seem to understand the free market. When money is spent, it's good. When money is saved and not spent, its wasted. If a company loses money, so what? The money isn't lost, it's just transferred to whoever sold them the bill of goods.
posted by delmoi at 5:35 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


They told me things that didn't make sense. We don't care about your degree or industry experience. We only care if you make something that impresses us, and if it does we will hire you. What? No. UnhandledException! I just have to MAKE something cool, and you'll let me work for you? Uhh. okay.
What's wrong with that? If you can't make something cool, why would they want to hire you?
posted by delmoi at 5:37 PM on April 12, 2010


His other articles are very telling, and provide a little more insight into his personality. I've clipped some of the gems because they amuse me.

"Over the past four decades, instead of NASA, we could have had at least six additional MIT’s."

"A few well-publicized banker bonuses notwithstanding, it remains that the compensation from a job roughly reflects the benefit it provides to society."

And the winner is his quote on subsidized post secondary education:
"We should recognize these [tuition increase] protests for what they are — the pathetic whining of one of history’s most coddled and self-entitled generations. "
posted by niccolo at 6:23 PM on April 12, 2010


What's wrong with that? If you can't make something cool, why would they want to hire you?

Unhandled sarcasm exception?
posted by adamdschneider at 6:46 PM on April 12, 2010


I read this. It sounds like every job ever- About 40% of your actual job and 60% head nodding bullshit. What's the story here? I'll sign any NDA you want for $16k, it's not like there's a MINDBLOWING cover up going on here
posted by GilloD at 6:47 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


All right already. You convinced me. This guy's a putz.

Still, if you were one of those people who absolutely had no clue about what consultants did before, now you know. Doesn't really matter what kind of consulting services you provide either, in my experience (I much prefer being a programmer now) its more or less how he describes it.

Sometimes consultants get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to do actual analysis and to crunch numbers and such and memorialize their findings in obscure 1,000 page documents nobody ever reads. And sometimes consultants get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to pretend to do actual analysis and crunch numbers and such in order to create the appearance of independent confirmation for somebody else's foregone conclusions in an obscure 1,000 page document nobody ever reads.

It all depends on the client and the manager in the end. I was lucky enough to have a really good manager--one who helped me switch career tracks and become a programmer.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:18 PM on April 12, 2010


What's wrong with that? If you can't make something cool, why would they want to hire you?

Typically one needs a master's degree in CS, a shiny game design degree from a very expensive school, or deep contacts to get a job in the game industry. There's nothing wrong with Valve's unique hiring process, it was just such a contrast to everything else I had read/heard that week.
posted by hellojed at 7:29 PM on April 12, 2010


My reaction was "meh". Young idealist not yet hardened to the world is not much of a story or much to get my panties in a bunch about. To me the real issue is the managers who hire these whores to fuck them with their fancy reports that justify bad decisions.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:33 PM on April 12, 2010


I also wonder, in terms of the larger sociology: is a place like Dubai (or for that matter Lagos, Palermo, Moscow or any other perceived cesspool of corruption) really, in the final analysis, any more corrupt than New York or Chicago?
I suppose it depends on how you define corruption. I mean, realistically many cities and countries were built on the backs of slave labor, it's just more recent in the UAE. But I think that's relevant.

For instance, it may be that the American (or just "western") equivalent of an economic caste system is just harder for us to recognize b/c we're in the middle of it (and have been conditioned to believe that America is less corrupt and more egalitarian).
Oh, certainly there is a caste (social class and race-based, mostly) system here, but from the readings I have done -- I couldn't go to Dubai to work and live and try to see what the culture is like even if I wanted to, what with being Jewish -- there is less of one, and there is at least some active work at lessening it.

Either way, the last few years in our Enron-styled system of capitalism have really tried my belief in any kind of American ethical exceptionalism. I think we just excel at putting a smiley face on these things.
I don't think that western countries are full of better people than the ones in the Middle East. I think our laws are, overall, better laws, but it's nowhere near perfection.

I didn't get the impression that was what he was saying. I thought the surrounding context implied that he disfavors the caste system, but taking it as a given that it is there and there is nothing one can individually do to change that, one's life will necessarily be easier if one inhabits the top tier.
I agree that the context initially appeared to be that he dislikes the system, but the second paragraph seemed to be mostly that he disliked where he was in the system, that he would have been okay with it if he had the top rung. Otherwise there are more reasonable downsides to mention. It is possible that he's just a bad writer, but then he had a bad editor (or one who disliked him). It's weird, too, because as a foreigner no system is set up for your benefit, and you always have fewer rights than a citizen. It's less obvious when you're in a more similar culture, but it's always true.

He just seemed shocked about things that aren't surprising (Dubai is hot! It doesn't like too much westernisation! There are people who are lower class!), and doesn't seem to mind about the problematic aspects of the country except when they inconvenience him.
posted by jeather at 8:24 PM on April 12, 2010


(Dubai is hot! It doesn't like too much westernisation! There are people who are lower class!)

In fairness, I think the surprise for him wasn't so much that there were people who were lower class in Dubai, but that it was considered polite to treat them poorly to their faces. In America, we're generally quite studious about keeping our abuses of the lower classes carefully hidden from their sight.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:30 PM on April 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Most of this thread reads like your-favorite-_____-sucks, where _____=career, or school, or aspirational desires, etc. Yeah, the writer's likely not as evolved as you are, right now, but he's certainly farther along than I was at 22. Can you say the same?

I don't know if this counts, but when I was 25 I was seriously considering going into quantitative finance. I had learned about quants and the coming economic crisis through metafilter - after a year of unemployment and a year working long hours at a startup, using my CS degree to get a nice cushy job obfuscating risk seemed like a pretty sweet deal. Eventually, I decided, pretty much on the basis of what I learned on Metafilter, that in the time it would take me to get a Master's I'd probably be too late to the party. Sure enough, I would have graduated right around the time Lehman collapsed.

The difference between me and that kid? He went to MIT and got a double degree - I went to a state school and read Metafilter.
posted by heathkit at 10:35 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the author seemed to be making the classic mistake of the misinformed -- that there is a fixed amount of money in the world, and if I take two slices of the pie, someone has to go hungry. "Oh no, I can't help these people lose $1 billion -- it'll mean there will be no mosquito nets for the needy!" Well, actually, the $1 billion isn't going to magically disappear into the ether.

How does productivity factor in this analysis? Don't things like replacing shipping crates with shipping containers free up labour that could be applied to other more productive uses and, to utilize similiar logic to yours, mean that more people can work on building mosquito nets?

If the analysis the author did was productivity based, that would mean his client is wasting humanity's resources on something that the market is saying is unproductive.

If the analysis is market positioning, then ya, someone wins and someone loses.
posted by sleslie at 10:44 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think our [American and "western"] laws are, overall, better laws [than the laws of UAE or "non-western" laws], but it's nowhere near perfection.

Well, fwiw, while I can't speak to the totality of "their" laws versus "our" laws, but with regards to finance (central to Dubai's economy--as the "Switzerland of the mideast"--and to the article in question), the movement of global capital is now such that it has an uncanny way of escaping laws and avoiding regulation or even taxation (why places like the Caymans exist). Furthermore, since the recent global economic crisis (spurred on largely by the obscene and predatory greed of Wall Street speculation), it seems transparently obvious that, considered as an entity, global finance (in the form of big banks, central banks, hedge funds, etc) is, for all intents and purposes, now mostly above the law.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 10:59 PM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I am a consultant living in Dubai, so obviously I have some perspectives on this.

Let's start with his view of "consulting", I can't seriously dispute it. Not when it comes to the major players like McKinsey and BCG. They will recommend what the client wants them to most of the times, more importantly they will recommend what whoever at the client commissioned them wants them to recommend.
There are other aspects to consulting and my test for consultants is how specialised they are. The more specialised, the more likely that they're not just bullshitting. Anyone who does general "strategy" work... well I have my doubts as to whether that does any good. On the other hand, what I do is formulate market entry strategies for Western manufacturers into Middle Eastern and African markets, that is a specialist subject and I can assure you that I can do this better than anyone at any of my clients.

It does come across as painfully naive though, I thought everyone knew this, and I come from a similar background educationally to this guy.

His naivety about Dubai matches this, but is hardly surprising given that most of MeFi shares it. I mean, hello, it's a third world country. Nearest neighbours are Saudi and Iran. I've only skimmed this guy's other articles but let me guess: he doesn't speak and didn't attempt to learn Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, or Farsi, he didn't make many Emirati friends. I'll bet he doesn't understand the first thing about the region that he's in and the history.

I'll paste below something that I wrote for a previous thread about Dubai that I still think holds true.
Also, while Dubai is indubitably worse than the '50s in, say, the United States or Western Europe, it is also way better than most of its neighbours now - and definitely in the 50's.

What we think of as 'normal' in terms of human rights might be normative (everyone should strive to emulate it) but is not normal in the statistical sense.
Those people who do not live in the Americas north of the Rio Grande, or in Eurasia west of the Urals (maybe even further west than that) do not have the rights and privileges that we take for granted.

Remember people, this country shares a looong land border with Saudi Arabia, strong historical ties with Pakistan and Iran. Many of the leading Emirati families, especially in Dubai - not so much in Abu Dhabi, are actually ethnically Pakistani and Iranian. Many of the midlevel managers here who are the footsoldiers in the abuse of the workers are from Pakistan, from sub-saharan Africa, from the Central Asian bits of the CIS - these are all places where workers are treated even worse than they are 'here' (I sometimes live in Dubai, though I'm elsewhere at the moment). So these supervisory dudes are thinking, what's the problem? this is better than how we treat manual labour in Sudan.

I think part of the problem for Dubai is the way they marketed themselves, as some kind of Utopian holiday destination in the sun. People don't think of the physical geography, they think in terms of airline hubs and spokes - it's like a Tube or Metro diagram rather than a map. People think "Place I saw on the telly with nice hotels and shopping" not "Surrounded by Saudi Arabia and Iran". (Obviously the local tourist board downplays the geography)

So of course when they market Dubai as a modern city-state, people develop Expectations.
They say - that shit might fly in Saudi (where nobody goes on beach holidays) but in Dubai, no. It jars with their desired media image.

I think though, that this kind of recitation of facts, shorn of regional and historical context, is a little unfair. I mean, it's not that any of that stuff is factually untrue. But it would be like me excoriating the American state of New Hampshire as a den of unbridled savagery because:
-It has a death penalty
-Gay Marriage is only just now legal O.M.G. (welcome to the 1960s!)
-Workers rights are for shit
-No gov't health care system
Now by my (Dutch) standards all those things are a little weird and antediluvian, but if I used them to paint NH as some kind of reactionary hellhole it would look odd to American readers.
Because NH barely ever actually executes anybody, actually does have full marriage rights (now at least) and has better worker's rights than many other American States. It's not that the criticisms are illegitimate, just that they fail to take regional and historical context into account. New England isn't exactly the most conservative part of the US, and any account of it that did not mention that would be flawed.

That's a little how I feel about your list of horrors.
I spend my professional time mostly in Africa, in the rest of the Middle East, and in South East Asia. Did you know that in India - which is a democracy after all, and a vigorous one - there are upwards of 10 MILLION indentured hereditary slaves? I would say that this whole region is fucked, but the truth is just the other way around. We are privileged, this shit is the global norm for now.

When I get back from Yemen or Cameroon to Dubai, I am returning to one of the freest places within a 6 hour flight (India is the big exception, its problems notwithstanding). You might say that this reflects more on the region's brutality than on Dubai's enlightenment, fair enough, but it is still true.

Yes, things are getting better, even here, but the baseline from which they are improving is appalling. And while I look forward to the day that everywhere is up to the standards of Western Europe is now, that day will not come in your lifetime or mine.


I don't want to be all "these American idealists are so dumb compared to a pragmatic old world middle-east hand like me" because I do admire the drive to make everything better for everyone, but quite frankly his view of Dubai is ludicrously narrow. I mean, yes they have bizarre laws regarding homosexuality and the rights of women, but women and gay men come here from the rest of the middle east because it's better than where they're from. I bet he didn't know that because he spent his time here hanging out with 20-something middle class Westerners.
posted by atrazine at 3:40 AM on April 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Another thing about management consulting. Part of the reason that many people entering it are so disillusioned by it is because people with science and engineering degrees are preferentially hired. So for many young people not only is this their first exposure to the non-academic world, but many of them worked in fields with very rigorous standards of proof before hand.

This is squarely the fault of the consulting companies who, in their recruitment material, talk all about the intellectual challenges of the work. Basically they aim at kids who really enjoyed their academic experiences and want to continue them and make good money, except that this is an illusion. Management consulting is intellectually challenging - but only compared to most white collar "business" jobs, not compared to an engineering programme at MIT. So when people get into it, they are often disappointed by what they find.
posted by atrazine at 4:07 AM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have to admit that my first instinct was, as someone above dubbed it, "drive-by snark". So I'll take that admonition seriously and just say this; the fact that the person had this deeply troubling experience and came out the other end thinking the following about future fatherhood:

I’ve come to the conclusion that having a father who can pay for a top-notch education outweighs the disadvantage of being raised by a hypocrite. Sticking with the job for the sake of a paycheck passes the children test.

Just goes to show how little he learned from the experience. And why things never really change. Rather sad, I think.
posted by kidkilowatt at 6:08 AM on April 13, 2010


How does productivity factor in this analysis? ... If the analysis the author did was productivity based, that would mean his client is wasting humanity's resources on something that the market is saying is unproductive.

You still have to pay your employees to work, and they take their money and buy things from other people, who take that money and buy things from still more people, etc, etc. We're not arguing how much they're being paid; different conversation.

You could pay people to do the most unproductive work imaginable, and you're still not destroying money. I suppose you could be wasting time, and perhaps natural resources. But losing money (i.e. spending it) is not a cosmic moral failing.

It sucks for you, though. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:54 AM on April 13, 2010


So the guy's naive.

Has anyone watched Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends? He's an interesting documentarian who tackles controversial subjects. He is, or plays, a pretty naive guy who asks questions about the things he's curious about, and generally lets his subjects speak for themselves. As a result, it's not only more pleasant and interesting than the sort of confrontational 'hard-hitting' interviews you see, but you gain a better understanding of the people as well.

This guy is similar. Sure, he's naive. Sure, we all know that the system is corrupt. But it's very useful to have someone simply give a factual description of what they see.
posted by alexei at 4:02 PM on April 18, 2010


I actually think the comparison to Louis Theroux could not be more wrong. This guy has a dog in the fight. He's not uninterested, he's completely biased, and his account reads like someone trying to justify themselves. Maybe consulting is like that, but I'm not at all convinced we can trust this narrator to tell us that.
posted by OmieWise at 9:23 AM on April 19, 2010


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