Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Curriculum by Stanley Bing

Fact:  I have no business acumen.  I know this about myself so I occasionally read books on business which I hope will give me some insight or information I can use.  So far, I can’t say that it’s ever translated to my having tangible success.  I remain eternally optimistic, nonetheless.  By which I mean, you’ll occasionally see a book review on some business book here in my blog. 

The Curriculum:Everything You Need to Know to be a Master of Business Arts by Stanley Bing purports to be “the only business school you will ever need” and it must be true because, right on the cover, there’s a seal from the National Association of Serious Students.  The book is divided into a course beginning with the “Core” curriculum and moving through “Advanced,” “Tutorials,” and “Electives.”  The chapters correspondingly are numbered the way a college curriculum would be:  101, 202, 303, etc.  Each chapter ends with exercises, although I’m not sure you would want to necessarily do them.  For instance, one exercise “Put on a Bluetooth earpiece and go to a Starbucks.  Conduct a business conversation in an audible tone until people look annoyed with you.  When you are able to do so without flinching, throw the Bluetooth away and never use it.”

This book is full of this type of humor, regaling the reader with such observations that those who are successful in business are usually insane, likening them to such luminaries as Stalin, Napoleon, and Sarah Palin.  From beginning to end, the writing is full of snarky insincerities mixed in with what one must assume is serious advice. It’s hard to discern the difference at times and I found it difficult to read the book for long.  The humor was best in small doses and sometimes made the book less enjoyable than I had hoped it would be. 

I think I’m just too old to appreciate page after page of snark although I’m sure it would appeal to Milennials and maybe even Gen Exers.  Some of the advice, of course, is rather obvious.  I’d like to believe that most business people have the sense not to tweet a picture of their private parts to anyone but I suppose you never know.  But with advice, including a chart, on how not drinking alcoholic beverages has professional consequences, it’s hard when to know something should be taken with a grain of salt.

Speaking of charts, this book is full of graphs and graphics which, I’m sure, are very effective in communicating the information, both humorous and serious, but they are in color so it is essential to read this on a device that supports full color or buy copy of the book itself.  You can sit it on a shelf in your office and anyone who hasn’t read it might be impressed.  Anyone who has read it, might make a joking reference to some idea contained therein.

I expected something more practical and profound.  Instead, I found myself occasionally chuckling and I may have even snorted once or twice but, over all, this is not a book I am likely to recommend.  Oh, and if you’re politically conservative, you should skip this book altogether.  Your sensibilities are likely to be offended. 

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