Jason Calacanis – Angel Investor or Man with a Mediocre Mission

Here is some new insight into what works in the corporate world!

How To Get To The Top

Although one’s management style here at Amalgamated Industries is a little dated, for example I like my people to wear jackets and ties in the office and drink tea from cups not mugs there is a young whippersnapper from across the pond who has some interesting points. I should mention that he often wears a baseball chapeaux reversed but that does not necessarily make him a hardened criminal.

Jason off to a Union meetingJason off to a Union meeting

He is Jason Calacanis, I wonder if he is related to the Suffolk Calacanises, lovely people one used to hunt with his Lordship. Anyway, apologies, I digress, Mr Calacanis has some pointed advice for young people who are just starting their careers:

In your career you will find that life is a zero sum game: the winners get the prime positions and the person who comes in second place for that position is the first loser—not…

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Management by Smartphone

The smartphone (with or without the i-prefix) is an integral part of the body and soul of every corporate manager (and non-manager) to the point where anyone using a device that merely enables you to talk and listen might as well be non-existent.

Unlike for naive mortals, in the hands of the corporate wizard, the smartphone is not a mere electronic device. It is the ultimate weapon that combines the power of control, confusion, denial, deficiency, one-upmanship, redirection, (mis)management, amusement and much more.

The smartphone is the best way to prove that you never start, I mean, stop working and, in turn, ensuring that your subordinates don’t. This is easily achieved by setting reminders to yourself (on the smartphone, of course) to generate one-liners (rumor has it that there are easy-to-use, free applications that can do this for you) such as, “hope you guys have completed the ppt deck”, “are we all set with the new product launch?” or, even more importantly, “have you reminded Liz to ensure that John has booked the limo to pick up the customer tomorrow morning?” What is most important is the timing of these emails, the best times being closer to midnight and in no case any time during daylight hours. And it must have the tag line, “Sent from my iPhone/Blackberry/you-know-the-game” for authenticity about you being on the move.

In addition to being able to make preemptive strikes as described above, the smartphone can be used as a massive routing device. To the veteran manager, it is child’s play to redirect a detailed email to a colleague or subordinate with a curt message varying from “FYI” or “what do you think?” all the way to “cannot open the large attachment on my iPhone – could you please take care of this” – and move on to the next ‘important’ mail item such as a stock market analysis link sent by a friendly business acquaintance.

The smartphone also offers the invaluable feature of being ‘on’ or ‘off’ in an instant. You may be on a conference call one instant and excuse yourself the next with one of the approved, industry-standard excuses – “sorry, bad cell reception”, “I am going through airport security”, “the blessed battery is dying – I swear I charged it half an hour ago”, “the doctor is calling me”, to name a few. You firmly establish the fact that you, the ever busy corporate problem solver, want to be involved but are handicapped by, yes, your smartphone. “I wish we were back in the days of face-to-face meetings”, you say with a chuckle and march forward.

Amongst the arsenal of tricks at the disposal of the pretentious manager, the smartphone is undoubtedly right at the top!

The Helicopter Manager

Do you hear the buzz above your cubicle or sense a shadow lengthening on your desk? It is your helicopter manager hovering around, keeping a protective, though annoying, eye on you.

The helicopter manager behaves pretty much like the helicopter parents, who are constantly monitoring and annoying, if not choking, their kids. This type of manager is not to be confused with the Seagull Manager whose actions may appear to be somewhat similar but whose motives are definitely different.

The helicopter manager is very endearing at the beginning. When you are a novice entering the corporate maze, this manager takes charge and makes you feel at home (people with helicopter parents, please excuse the pun). He points out everything from where you could sharpen your pencil to the shortest route to the restroom. He personally introduces you to people in the mail room and helps tackle the IT guys who set up your computer, no mean task even for the CEO of your company.

But soon the hospitality and the kindness start wearing you off and you start noticing the subtle ways in which your colleagues attempt to perform escape acts – pretending to be on the phone, having a coughing fit requiring a visit to the water cooler or even trying to disappear under the table or behind closets when the manager walks by. You soon find yourself joining this select group of researchers in pursuit of the utopian solution to the threat.

The helicopter manager treats everyone as though they were permanently in the kindergarten class. She not only acts on the basis that everyone and everything requires monitoring and supervision but is also prepared to co-perform every activity that each subordinate is required to complete. Here are some samples of such a manager’s behavior:

“I am just checking to see if you read the email that I sent yesterday and you acknowledged today.”

“Have you scheduled time to complete the 5-minute activity that is due six months from now – just don’t lose sight of it.”

“I liked the brief that you wrote for our press release. I just made a few corrections to two of the paragraphs and rewrote the other ten – good job!”

“I changed the variable name in your program from country-origin to country-of-origin; makes it much clearer I think.”

“I know you are working on collating the monthly sales figures for all our 500 sales reps. Can you email me the spreadsheet as each number is completed – I can then cross-check this with my own numbers that I will be independently collating in parallel. This will make the final comparison exercise that we will do together much easier. And, oh, please don’t forget to use the ‘comma’ separator for numbers greater than thousand.”

So, what is the moral of the story – the next time you hear the buzzing sound, run like hell!