Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Read this book.

Yesterday I threw my insignificant weight behind a product everyone should have. Today, I am upping the ante and throwing my exponentially increasing weight behind a book everyone should read.

At least those of us in advertising.

Dan Lyons is one of the writers on HBO's incredibly funny and incredibly smart, Silicon Valley. But he is no overnight sensation, not by a long shot. I heard he was 10 years older than me. Hard to believe that a 54 year old could still productively pound the keyboard.

But he does and that gives me hope.

Dan spent many years as a reporter for Newsweek magazine. And then, in order to exercise his funny bone, he began tweeting as FakeSteveJobs. A humorous diversion not unlike my kimjungfun.tumblr.com account.

In fact, months ago, Dan stumbled upon one of my Kim Jung Un posts and he wrote to me. That is how we started our correspondence. OK, it's not really a correspondence. I write to him and he doesn't respond, but in this new Trumpian era why let facts get in the way of a good fantasy?

When Newsweek downsized, Dan found himself out of work. That is until he parlayed his FakeSteveJobs notoriety into a high level gig at HubSpot, a scamarama software outfit in Boston.

The book follows, in painstaking detail, Dan's journey into the high tech world. More specifically in their marketing department. And this is where it gets interesting. Or humiliating. Many times both. In other words, it's just like our lives in advertising.

There's the tortuous brainstorming meetings and the walls festooned with appropriately-sized Post It Notes of Insight.

There's the squabbling over offices, cubicles, seats at the long table in the boiler room/sweatshop.

There's cognitive dissonance. Much the same way we tell and sell our clients this salesfuckery about building their brands with tweets, Snaps and Instagram scavenger hunts, the Hubspotters spout off about 1+1=3. With equally mysterious comments like, "A Hubspotter would never say something like that." 

And there's Kool Aid drinking.

So, so, so much Kool Aid drinking. Complete with asinine acronyms, delusional manifestos, and unwarranted cult-like loyalty. Here are some selected slides from the 128 page Hubspot Code of Conduct.

Had I been subjected to this presentation, I would have been requesting an Exit Interview before the 5th slide.

Most of all, there's greed.

Because despite the many opportunities to fix the product, improve the product and make the product better than anything offered by the competition, all the energy was exclusively spent preparing for the IPO and funneling as much money as humanly possible to the khaki-pants-wearing white men in the C-Suite.

Mmmmm, why does that sound so familiar?

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