Sunday, August 21, 2011

Romance and the Social Animal.

       In his book "The Social Animal", New York Times columnist David Brooks describes research by Faby Gagne and John Lyndon.

       According to the study, 95 percent of those in love believe that their current partner is above average in looks, intelligence, warmth, and sense of humor. They describe their former lovers, however, as closed-minded, emotionally unstable, and "generally unpleasant".

       As I thought about that, I began to wonder if this applies to boss-employee relationships in the marketing world. I couldn't find any data on the subject, but it seems to me it does. In my experience, bosses tend to be myopic about their employees at first, and I think it's because they were responsible for the hiring and their employees' successes reflect on them.

       Did you ever hear an executive say he just hired a terrible person, a no-talent inexperienced bum? Of course not. Recruiting sometimes verges on being a sport. It's competition, like love and fishing. "We got Edna for $2000 less than she was asking." "I just reeled in that writer from Phoenix. I was worried he'd go to New York."

        Once you're on the job, "crystalization" sets in. The 19th Century French writer Stendahl described it as "a mental process which draws, from everything that happens, new proofs of perfection of the loved one". This is the honeymoon period, but it doesn't last long.

       Quit, and everything changes. My first boss used to tell people "I never lost anyone I wanted to keep". Then why did he keep them till they quit?

       Years later, when I quit Foote, Cone, and Belding in Chicago, I found a note on my desk the next day. "Please leave immediately. You have caused me a great deal of embarrassment by quitting." And go I did, by 10 a.m., even though the week before I wrote the slogan that won the agency a huge piece of business from Kraft.

        Obviously there's more to business than business.   

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