100 bullshit jobs ...and haw to get them


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100 bullshit jobs ...and haw to get them

  1. 1. [ iii ]100Stanley BingBullshit Jobs. . . And How to Get Them
  2. 2. DedicationTo my dad, a college professor and avery learned man, who carried in his wallet abusiness card that he would present only to thosewho offered theirs. In the middle of the card was his namein fine, raised type.And underneath, where the personalinformation should have been, was the simple statement:“ I’m something of a bullshit artist myself.”
  3. 3. All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.—ARISTOTLE
  4. 4. ContentsSerious Introductory Bullshit 1Calculating ␤: The Bullshit Quotientof Your Job 17100 Bullshit Jobs...and How to Get Them1 Advertising Executive 222 Agent 263 Allergist 284 Anything Emeritus 305 Aquarium Cleaner for the Rich 326 Aromatherapist 347 Ayurvedic Healer 378 Backup Dancer 409 Barista 4310 Being a Brand 4511 Being Donald Trump 4712 Best-selling Author 4913 Blogger 5114 Book Editor 5415 Boulevardier 57[ vii ]Epigraph
  5. 5. 16 Business Book Author 5917 Cable News Demagogue 6118 Celebrity Stylist/Aesthetic Consultant 6519 Celebutante 6720 Certified Massage Therapist 6921 Chairman 7122 Cheese Artisan 7323 Closet Organizer 7524 Cold Caller 7725 Computer Game Tester 8026 Construction Site Flag Waver 8227 Consultant 8428 Contractor 8829 Corporate Yes-Man 9230 Critic 9631 Crumber 9932 Customer Service Representative,Canned Food Company 10133 Diet Doctor 10434 Dolphin Trainer 10635 Economist 10836 “Escort” 11137 Executive Vice President, New Media 11338 Expert Witness 11739 Feng Shui Consultant 12040 Food Critic 12341 Funeral Director 126[ viii ]
  6. 6. 42 Game Show Host 12943 Greeter/Cuer 13244 Guru 13545 Handler 13846 Handwriting Analyst 14147 Headhunter 14448 HMO Health Care Professional 14749 Human Billboard 15150 Industrial Psychologist 15351 Infomercial Spokesperson/Celebrity Pitchman 15552 Insurance Broker 15853 Investment Banker 16254 Lawyer 16455 Life Coach 16756 Mail Order/Online Minister 16957 Marriage Counselor 17158 McKinsey Hit Man 17359 Media Trainer 17560 Meteorologist on TV 17861 Mogul 18162 Mogul/Rock Star/Celebrity’s Ex 18463 Motivational Speaker 18664 Palm Reader/Psychic/Astrologer/Tarot Reader, Etc. 18965 Patent Troll 19266 Performance Artist 195[ ix ]
  7. 7. 67 Perfume Schpritzer 19768 Personal Publicist 19969 Personal Trainer 20270 Pet Psychic 20571 Poet 20972 Poker Teacher 21473 Political Reverend 21874 Politician 22175 Pollster/Market Researcher 22576 Pop Tart 22877 Posse Dude 23178 Postmodern Artist 23579 Quantum Physicist/String Theorist 23980 Raw Chef 24381 Realtor 24782 Right-Wing Radio Talk Show Host 24983 Ringmaster 25184 Roadkill Collector 25585 Rock Star 25786 Rogue Journalist 26087 Royalty/Heir 26388 Spin Doctor 26589 Sports Bloviator 26790 Talking Head/Pundit 27091 The Guy Who Says Your Car Will BeReady by Noon 27292 University Administrator 274[ x ]
  8. 8. 93 Velvet Rope Nazi 27694 Vice President of the United States 27995 Wine Industry Professional 28296 Writer of This Book 28597 Xerox Repairman 28798 Yeti 28999 Yoga Franchiser 291100 You 294Conclusion:Transforming Your Job intoa Bullshit Job 296Acknowledgments:About the Author:CreditsCoverCopyrightAbout the Publisher:[ xi ]
  9. 9. SeriousIntroductory BullshitNot long ago, a friend of mine who occupies a veryhigh position in a mind-bogglingly enormous con-glomerate called his boss, a veritable titan of industry, toinform him of a developing situation.“Bob,”said my friend,whose name is also Bob,“I’m go-ing to acquire that $15 billion operation in China I wastelling you about when we flew together lastThursday.”There was a profound silence on the other end of thephone. My friend Bob held his breath.This was an impor-tant strategic priority for him, a very big bite of a poten-tially disastrous apple.When he had broached the subjecton the corporate jet heading down to Dallas,the chairmanhad seemed preoccupied, unfocused, had looked out thewindow the whole time, and then reverted to cursory golfchat. Now presented with the reality of this awesomefinancial and operational step, what would big Bob, the[ 1 ]
  10. 10. steward of the entire enterprise, known for his sharp mind,caustic wit,hot temper,cold heart,and unpredictable emo-tional infrastructure, do to little Bob?“Bob,”said the chairman thoughtfully after a time,“haveyou ever been to Paris?”My friend’s mind whirled.What could this possibly beabout? Was there a hidden agenda here that was going topop up and bite him in the butt? “Sure, Bob,” he said care-fully. And waited.“When you’re there,” said the chairman,“what hotel doyou stay at? I used to invariably go to the Crillon, but I’mgetting tired of that. I think the scene may be more inter-esting elsewhere.I don’t want to cross the river,so keep meon the Right Bank, but what would you suggest?”“Well,” said my friend,“I like the Ritz a lot.”“Thanks,” said the chairman warmly, and, after a shortdisquisition on the wonders of the south of France inspring, rang off.Bob did the acquisition without further consultation,except for a presentation to his board,of course,which alsoseemed distracted while he was laying out the plan, andthen, after approving it, had lunch.Is this a story of corporate malfeasance? Of responsi-bility shirked and the shareholders’ interests once againtrampled in the hot dust of executive laziness, inattentive-ness, and stupidity? No, it isn’t, because my friend Bobknows what he is doing and will make everybody a lot of[ 2 ]
  11. 11. money in China. So it’s not about that.What it is, however,is a stunning and pungent demonstration of bullshit in ac-tion.Bob’s chairman has a bullshit job.He knows it.He revelsin it. And in this tale, we see him at the top of his bullshitgame, performing his stunningly bullshit function withease and distinction.The board, which should come as nosurprise, is a bullshit institution and conforms to all expec-tations in that regard, including the part about lunch.Throughout, the bullshit artists are able to operate in apleasant, no-stress, friendly environment provided by guyslike my friend Bob, those willing to assume the actualmantle of hard work and all the unpleasantness that comeswith it.Opportunities in the lush brown field of bullshit em-ployment are virtually limitless. My publisher told me tolimit this exercise to 100 jobs for some kind of bullshitmarketing consideration, but I can tell you that I couldhave doubled that number easily, and that’s focusing onlyon the domestic front and California.The global possibili-ties are equally limitless, especially in France, where fully46 percent of all people are engaged in some kind ofbullshit occupation, and Japan, where they hire people tohelp you get on and off escalators.What do all these people have in common? They allhave bullshit jobs. And guess what? They’re having fun,making a living,and enjoying their lives,perhaps more than[ 3 ]
  12. 12. you are right now as you wolf down that tuna sandwichbefore you push your nose back on that grindstone.Ah, bullshit jobs! God must have loved them, since hemade so many of them. Actually, Abraham Lincoln saidthat about something completely different—the commonman, I think, which is why they put his head on the penny.Anyhow, the people lucky and skillful enough to have se-cured bullshit employment are everywhere, in virtuallyevery field from ayurvedic healing to yoga franchising—Icouldn’t come up with a z.The folks who work in thesecoveted bullshit positions enjoy the best lives imaginable—they are paid well, they work very little, and their profes-sions are highly respected because nobody really knowswhat they do.What, for instance, are the actual functions performedby a McKinsey consultant? Other than sitting around mak-ing people nervous? None. That’s what he does. And bynext Tuesday, he’ll probably be your boss’s boss!You thinkI’m kidding? Read the paper.About half a mile from me isanother division of my corporation. Not long ago, theynamed one of their McKinsey consultants to the No. 2position at the headquarters operation. The encouragingwrinkle here is that instead of the usual story of the con-sultant snuffing out a real, live, nonbullshit working execu-tive, the McKinsey guy is superseding another McKinseyguy!Who says there are no happy endings in business?[ 4 ]
  13. 13. What does an aromatherapist actually do? Sniff things?Yes! For big, fragrant bucks, that’s what!When the executive vice president of new media givesyou his card, what is he offering? Who knows?Vaporware!For six figures plus a bonus equal to 100 percent of his basesalary, in reward for the quality and size of the digitalbullshit he’s capable of marketing.What is a shrink actually doing when he or she is nod-ding at a suffering depressive? Nodding, we know thatmuch. Beyond that? Essentially unknown. I know PhDswho make upward of $300 an hour for that. On the otherhand,my shrink is worth every penny.Is that because whathe practices is not bullshit? Or that his bullshit is simplybetter than any other, at least for me?Who knows?This book begins with certain assumptions:Q A fair amount of bullshit in anybody’s job is, apriori,a good thing,however you define bullshit,whichis an interesting subject in itself that we will pursue in amoment.WThe ability to bullshit is what separates happy beastsfrom miserable mankind.EThere are costs for obtaining and maintaining a jobthat is fundamentally bullshit, but all good things comeat a price.[ 5 ]
  14. 14. R All jobs, no matter how apparently full of content,can be rendered into a high-octane, lucrative,completely insubstantial charade over time.TThere are some people who have a negative take onbullshit jobs. If you’ve read this far, you’re probably notone of them.To begin, we must ask some critical questions that, al-though they are about bullshit,are not of it,because bullshitis in itself a serious subject and worthy of discourse that isnot completely full of it.I’m not sure what the other questions are, but I knowwhat the first one ought to be.A Critical QuestionWhat is bullshit?Is it, as suggested by Harry G. Frankfurt, the au-thor of a rather censorious but best-selling bullshit bookon the subject, the product of moral morons who are con-tent to live in the gray zone where there is no truth and nountruth, that the bullshitter cares less about the truth thanthe liar? This seems rather severe to me, even if true, ornot true. In fact, I don’t care if it’s true or not, come tothink of it.Is it silly stuff, like you see in all theWeb sites dedicated[ 6 ]
  15. 15. to bullshit on the Internet? Now we’re a little closer butstill not quite there. Some bullshit is silly, true, but just be-cause something is idiotic doesn’t make it bullshit. Somevery smart things are completely full of it. Have you readany string theory?Is it, as Penn & Teller demonstrate in their truculentand amusing cable program, all the hypocritical garbagethat clogs our social system? The faith healers, astrologers,dowsers, marketers? Yes, but to define a thing by its mostegregious and worst examples is unfair, I think. There isbad bullshit, just as there is bad art of all kinds. But there isalso good art.And that,my friends,is perhaps the most pre-cious commodity that humanity can produce!Ultimately what we are looking for here is a definitionof bullshit that is not bullshit.This turns out to be difficult,so I’m not even going to attempt it.Why bust my humpwhen I can be true to the spirit of this exercise and notturn a bullshit assignment into something rigorous?Just a few salient thoughts, though, might be in order,because even though a job may be a bullshit job, thatdoesn’t mean it isn’t a job at all, with bullshit duties thatmust be performed with energy, if not seriousness. So:A Few Salient Thoughts• Bullshit is not what is true, but what we wish might betrue.That is, bullshit is hope.[ 7 ]
  16. 16. • Bullshit is what you say when you have nothing to say.It is the effort to fill the void between knowledge andignorance. And it takes the kind of finesse,practice,andtalent that characterizes the pursuit of other creativehuman activities, which is why we call its practitionersartists.• Bullshit is what passes for the truth until the real thingcomes along. For instance, when a man is losing his hair,he will very often spend time fluffing up what he has leftin the mirror. He bullshits himself into thinking he looksbetter until he can see his scalp gleaming in the unkindglare of the bathroom light.When that happens, he mayvery well shave his head completely and then bullshithimself into believing he looks better that way than hedid with hair. In this we also see that the first consumerof an individual’s bullshit is, and must be, him- or herself.•The truth hurts, but bullshit is kind. Lies are corrosive,but bullshit is a warm puppy.• Bullshit is not a hobby; it’s a way of life. It is a strategy, agame, a jolly thumb in the eye of anything that is notbullshit. Bullshit is fun.•The job that embodies all these characteristics will be(1) easy, (2) prestigious, (3) pay well, and (4) offer a pathto even bigger bullshit jobs.All of this sounds pretty attractive, doesn’t it? Of course,it’s not for everybody. There are quite a few who lookdown their nose at bullshit and the artists who tender it.[ 8 ]
  17. 17. These are generally serious,tedious people who don’t real-ize that they, too, are bullshitting somebody about some-thing. If you’re one of them, go away right now. Better yet,buy this book for a friend who knows what to do with it.The problem, however, for even the most ambitious bull-shit artist,is how to differentiate“real”jobs from bullshit ones.As a public service, then, I’ll take a cursory stab at howone might view this issue, and put it into a table that youcan read easily, since we’ve had a lot of uninterrupted textand you must be getting kind of tired by now.Not Bullshitage of 50age of 30DivorceGodReligious zealots withHealthBullshitThe NFL halftime showage of 50Religious zealotsclassGeorge StephanopoulosCheez WhizThe miracle of childbirthMassive heart attack at theReceding hairline at theArtweaponsAnderson CooperWarTruthReceding hairline at theMassive heart attack whilehaving sexDivorce lawyersArt criticismPlastic silverware in firstHealersWarmongers[ 9 ]
  18. 18. Now,I could make an attempt to elucidate all the thingsthat unite the stuff in column two and distinguish that mat-ter from the items in column one,but I think it would be awaste of time.That said, there are certain things we couldchew the fat about for a minute on the subject.All the itemson the left side of our table exercise a certain muscle in thehuman soul.The items on the right have to spend a lot oftime marketing,pitching,explaining themselves.Finally, I suppose, it comes down to this: the stuff on theleft is fragile, precious, and easily broken. God, for instance.How hard we have to work to reach Him! Just as we feelwe’re getting close, He or She slips from us, either becauseHe is busy elsewhere or because we are. Or AndersonCooper? For a few moments now, he has embodied some-thing new, honest, and unpredictable in the sodden state ofjournalism. But for how long? How long will it take forhim to descend into self-parody?The stuff on the right? It’s durable. Predictable. Easy toaccess and replicate. It will never go away. It will always bewith us. And in this book, we will learn how each of us canconstruct a successful,happy,fulfilling life built on a pile of it.A Short Course in BullshittingArtists are people who use techniques that they havemastered to work intuitively,to reach down into theirown soul and into the souls of others to find a mutual truth[ 10 ]
  19. 19. they can sell for money,unless they’reVan Gogh,who didn’tlive to see his work ever purchased by anybody.That is acomplete tragedy that I hope to help you avoid.Let’s start with some critical choices.Step One: Choose your medium. Some work in oils.Some work in words. Some really terrific bullshit artistswork in video,especially those who produce totally boringloops that you see in museums dedicated to the movingimage.Your medium may be memos or lunch conversationor e-mails or phone calls or text messages—there are asmany ways of conveying bullshit as there are new mediamaking outrageous claims for themselves in TheWall StreetJournal. But a conscious choice of the way you transmityour art is all-important.The way you work in paper willnot be the same as the way you work in vodka.Step Two: Choose your technique. You may mix a littletruth, a touch of prevarication, a whit of humor, a table-spoon of ire.Great bullshit is as varied and multihued as thegorgeous tapestry of human experience. Many great busi-ness executives’bullshit takes the form of rage.Parents oftenchoose to work in a subtle mixture of guilt and love, andgarage mechanics, always seeking to put off for tomorrowwhat they might do today,wield a potent blend of promises,excuses,and hope.This is art! Feel it with your gut!Step Three: Choose your time.Yes,as Ecclesiastes said,toeverything there is a season. First, there is a time for pure,unvarnished truth. I don’t know why the truth always has[ 11 ]
  20. 20. to be unvarnished, but that seems to be the case. I’ve hadmany nice pieces of furniture that were varnished,and theywere far more beautiful and useful than the cruddy unvar-nished ones, but I guess that’s beside the point.The truth ispreferable to a lie. On the other hand, lies, too, have theirplace. People who can’t use mendacity in the service oftheir agendas are at a significant disadvantage. At the sametime, there are many occasions when lies are not only un-necessary, they are, in fact, inadvisable. So—between baldtruth and naked lies,lies the land in which bullshit is highlynecessary,functional,and appreciated.The ability to offer itwith skill, tact, and impunity can be understood as the tri-umph of maturity and civilization over the forces of barba-rism,darkness,and impotence.So choose your time,chooseit well,and have no fear or compunction.You are,in a sense,doing the work of all artists—shaping reality to the needsof society and, of course, yourself.Step Four: Stick to the knitting. Artists suffer from a badprofessional hazard: they tend toward flights of fancy. Keepin mind,you are in this thing day in,day out,year after year,and the key to longevity in any business is getting the man-datory duties of your bullshit job done. Bullshitting is notthe same as excuse making.You need to do the job, what-ever it is. And in every job, there is a portion that is notbullshit.This is an important concept for you, so I’m going tosay it again. In every job, there is a portion that is not[ 12 ]
  21. 21. bullshit. In the work of a funeral director, for example,there is the part where you have to pump embalming fluidinto the corpse, prepare it for viewing by people who usedto love the deceased, and minister to those who are seri-ously unhappy. All of that is most certainly devoid of bull-shit. The part where you convince the family to spend$7,500 on a solid oak casket ringed in gold filigree? Now,that’s when your art kicks in.Before you come a long line of illustrious bullshit artistsof the past and present who guide all who have read thisfar.They include figures from the mythological (and evenbiblical) to the all-too-real titans who have shaped ourworld and continue to do so.[ 13 ]
  22. 22. Great Bullshitters of the Past and PresentTHE SNAKE, GARDEN OF EDEN Undercommunicated theDAVID, KING OF ISRAELAUTHOR OF BEOWULFeffects of strategic adviceoffered to unsuspectingclients.Extremely good poet andstatesman, but sent Uriah,the husband of the womanhe loved, Bathsheba, out todie in battle. That’s reallybullshit. I hate it when seniorofficers do that. I had achairman once who sent hisgirlfriend’s husband, who wasalso a vice president of thecorporation, to Rio for twoyears, and then proceeded tobuy the wife, who was hisvice president of operations,a new Porsche. They used toshow up at retreats inmatching velvet jumpsuits!Come on!Whipped up an excellentbeginning, ran out of steam,padded poem outrageouslywith extremely tediousbullshit after that.[ 14 ]
  23. 23. MARCUS CRASSUS Greedy guy, made tons ofmoney in old Rome byinvesting in real estate at avery low price, then “waitingfor a fire,” and afterwardrebuilding and selling condosfor big bucks. When fire didn’tarrive on schedule, wasfamous for starting them.When he died, the Parthianspoured molten gold into hismouth and then decapitatedhim. What a waste of gold!HENRY VIII Created an entire newreligion, persecuting the oldone, simply because he didn’tlike divorce laws underexisting theologicalinfrastructure. Hey, nobodylikes divorce laws (particularlyin New York State), but wedon’t go around killing all thedivorce lawyers, now, do we? Imean, could we?MARIE ANTOINETTE Her “let them eat cake” willlive as one of the greatbullshit jokes of theeighteenth century. Of course,she got pretty badly punishedfor it.[ 15 ]
  24. 24. freedom and the rights ofoff. The killing is not theout the philosophicalNEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN Declared “peace in our time”while selling outJUDITH MILLERTimes while cozying up tobullshit sources.Lied to Oprah.ROBESPIERRE Fed a raft of bullshit aboutman to the people of France,then went on to killeverybody who pissed himbullshit part. But let’s leaveunderpinning, okay?Czechoslovakia to Hitler.Marketed whole weapons ofmass destruction thing toreaders of The New YorkJAMES FREY[ 16 ]
  25. 25. Calculating ß: The BullshitQuotient of Your JobLike I said, the understanding that many apparently100-percent bullshit occupations have some percent-age of actual content is key to your evaluation and appre-ciation of the jobs that lie ahead for you. I’d like to take amoment, then, to investigate a brief means of scientificallycalculating the actual bullshit component of any occupa-tion, to help you make your ultimate selection.The fundament of all that guides the physical universemay be expressed in one simple equation first formulatedby Isaac Newton, and this guy didn’t have an ounce ofbullshit in him. Here is the formula:F = MAOrForce equals Mass multiplied by Acceleration[ 17 ]
  26. 26. That is, the force of something is a function of howheavy it is and how fast it is picking up speed.Stay with me here. It will be worth it. This equationis not only the basis of the laws of physical motion. Inanother, better-known form—E=mc2—it is the core ofEinstein’s theory of relativity, a body of work that looksvery much like bullshit but really isn’t, at least for thosewho have seen a mushroom cloud or used to live aroundChernobyl.First, let’s think about the three elements involved inNewton’s original equation:• Force: or to put it another way, power. Economicpower. Management power. Sexual power.The secret oflife.• Mass: or to put it another way, weight. As in, I put onweight. He’s a lightweight. He ain’t heavy, he’s mybrother.• Acceleration: or to put it another way, speed. If there’sanything we like almost as much as power, it’s speed. Fastcar. Fast food. Can’t talk. Gotta run.Your power is equal to how heavy you are,boosted by howmuch faster you are going than you were five minutes ago.• Okay, then: ␤ ␫␴ ␶␩␧ ␲␱␻␧␳...oh,sorry. ␤ is thepower of the bullshit in any of the jobs we’ll be lookingat in this book.[ 18 ]
  27. 27. • Mass—what makes things heavy? In looking at jobs,that would have to be the hours one is forced to putin (H); the amount of times one is likely to be abusedby one’s management or clients, on a scale of 10 (A);the value of the package of perks associated with theemployment, in thousands, with a minimum number of1 (P); and finally and not the least important, the salary($), in tens of thousands.The higher the number ofhours, the more it will reduce the quotient of the job—since great bullshit jobs require very little presence, Ithink.We can therefore express the mass of the job asfollows:Abuse x Perks x $alaryMass =HoursAP$Or . . . M =H• Acceleration, likewise, is a rather simple function—how fast is your career growing over time?This may beexpressed as G, or a number between 1 and 10. Howdoes it work?Well, if you’re a personal publicist who hadeight big clients last year, and this year you just had BradPitt?You’re doing great, baby! Give yourself a G of 8,because one Brad Pitt adds up to at least eightschmendricks![ 19 ]
  28. 28. Our final equation,then,looks like this:␤ =AP$(G)HAnd here’s how it works, looking at an average corpo-rate bullshit job like mine:Abuse x 25 thousand worth of perks=x 12 in tens of thousands␤ (3)35 hours (golf not included)...assuming that the job is growing at a rate of 3,whichis moderate and slightly optimistic for most of us.This scientific calculation gives us a ß of exactly 128.57,a number over 100, which makes it a truly bullshit job in-deed, so congratulations, whoever you are, you’re doinggreat, and so am I.[ 20 ]
  29. 29. [ 21 ]100. . . AndBullshit JobsHow to Get Them
  30. 30. 1Advertising ExecutiveCreate perceived need/value for inherentlygeneric or worthless products$$: Ground-level workers withwriting ability move quickly to Many a small thing hasbeen made large by thethe top, immediately snagging right kind of advertising.low to mid-six figures; those Mark Twainwho can spin mythologicalconcepts surrounding quotid-ian household objects can command up to seven figures.ß: 100. It’s easy to sell bullshit to people who are in themarket for it, but when they’re not buying your bullshit,life is not worth living.Skills Required: The ability to apply great attributes,moving story lines, heroic character traits, humor, and pas-sion.Helpful capabilities include:experience in ensemble act-ing, improvisational theater, sales, public relations, graphicdesign,and team sports.[ 22 ]
  31. 31. Duties: Depends on what portion of the alimentary canalyou occupy—the top where the mouth is located or theother end.Generally, the advertising campaign begins with a con-versation with the client, who believes his product or ser-vice will be helped by spending inordinate amounts ofmoney for the branding and high-concept positioning agreat ad campaign provides.Once you have the mandate todo what is necessary from him a variety of things happen.Managers manage. Writers write. Graphic guys do theirvisual magic. Researchers lob in market analysis. Some-times the group gets together and brainstorms, whippingup a froth of bullshit that lifts the entire boat. At last acampaign comes together and you go back in and pitch theclient in a pithy, snazzy, riveting dog-and-pony presenta-tion that leaves everybody gasping and nails the cat to thewall.Famous Examples: J. WalterThompson, who in some ways We grew up founding ourdreams on the infinitebegan the entire business in the promise of Americannineteenth century with the advertising. I still believefirst print campaigns. Why that one can learn to playshould a cracker have any name the piano by mail andthat mud will give you aexcept “cracker”? Thompson perfect complexion.saw that it could, and there Zelda Fitzgeraldfollowed Ritz, Saltines, Uneeda[ 23 ]
  32. 32. Biscuits—get it? You need a biscuit! Ha! About twentyyears ago,J.WalterThompson was acquired by Martin Sor-rell,one of the great business bullshitters of all time and themaster of the bloody, Pyrrhic, unfriendly takeover.What aguy. I was at a meeting with Sir Martin once in which headdressed a bunch of some two hundred senior businessexecutives with a mélange of wisdom, insight, and self-important claptrap. My favorite moment was when he re-ceived a question from the audience about the efficacy ofhostile acquisitions. He took a moment, looked deep intohis vast wad of personal experience, and said,“I don’t be-lieve there is such a thing.” Now, that, my friends, is world-class bullshit,and it’s not a coincidence that Sorrell is in theadvertising business, whose mission it is to dream it up,flambé it, and present it on a platter to the people of theworld.WHow to Get It: Pitching is at the heart of this particularbullshit game.If you’ve got a gift for shameless presentationof the ersatz, watch a lot of TV—preferably stoned nowand then.Study hard on how stuff is sold to mass and nicheaudiences and how a worthless bolus of gunk can be turnedinto a child’s toy.Then go to NewYork.Madison Avenue isone block east of Fifth.W[ 24 ]
  33. 33. The Upside: Great expense account living,see your hand-iwork everywhere, the wonderful feeling of being creativeand corporate at the same time.The Downside: Must take meetings with the AFLACduck.The Dark Side:You’re considered a dinosaur at forty.WWhere You Go from Here: Politics—as an advisor to hu-man products.[ 25 ]
  34. 34. 2AgentTalk on phone, take percentage$$: Seven figures is not out ofthe ordinary, and the lunch ac- Let every eye negotiatefor itself and trust notion is astounding. agent.Shakespeareß: 54–172.Skills Required: Shine peopleon or cut them dead, depending on the situation. Onemust possess a serious love of bullshit in all its many forms.Duties: Make sure that no client of yours ever takes it upthe butt.Famous Examples: Swifty Lazar, who will be remem-bered for his Oscar parties;Norman Brokaw and LouWeissof the William Morris Agency, who I believe knew Jolson;Binky Urban, whose name comes up more often in NewYork book chat than Proust’s or Jerry McGuire.W[ 26 ]
  35. 35. How to Get It: To become asuccessful agent, all you need to I’m not currently repre-sented. I’m with thedo is get a foot in the door at the William Morris Agency.very lowest level and then show Larry Gelbart,yourself to be a meat-eating bar- to Johnny Carsonracuda from the get-go. A lot ofagents,although not as many as in the past,come in throughthe mailroom. Others start as assistants and very quickly be-gin to take on unknown and marginal petitioners, one ofwhose success will immediately reap huge career gains.Youdon’t have to be all that educated, either. Just smart. Or not.There are certainly a lot of stupid agents.WThe Upside: Lots of people groveling as you eat yourgravlax. A sense of achievement in the success of others, aslong as you’re getting a piece of it.The Downside: People sucking on your face all day. Andthere comes a time when Steve doesn’t seat you at the righttable.The Dark Side:You die alone and unmourned.WWhere You Go from Here: Upward and upward into thestratosphere of the profession,where the lines blur betweensuperagent and producer and lawyer.[ 27 ]
  36. 36. 3AllergistInject placebos to offsethypochondria in children$$: Low to mid-six figures,if you’re serious about it.ß: 81.4.Skills Required: Know how to give scratch tests andsmall injections, also treat the occasional wheezing attack.Duties: Give shots, go “hmmm” when confronted withwelt or rash.Keep up on the relevant pharmacology.A cer-tain amount of golfing is usually required.Famous Example:Your area’s most successful allergist.WHow to Get It: Here’s the big hurdle—you will have to goto medical school and earn an MD, most decidedly a low-bullshit endeavor.There’s blood and sputum and really sickpeople. After that, you’re pretty much home free.[ 28 ]
  37. 37. WThe Upside: Not a whole lotof death.The Downside: Crushingboredom.The Dark Side: Your applica-tion for membership to PebbleBeach is rejected.WWhere You Go from Here:Proctology school.Q: I’m a thirty-year-oldwoman. Recently I havestarted having a terribleexperience. When Iam having sex, in themoment of my orgasm,my throat closes and Icannot breathe for a longtime. Last time was scarybecause I spent morethan 30 minutes with mythroat completely closedand every 1 or 2 minutesI could take a big breathand again it closed. I feltlike I was going to die; mypartner gave me mouth-to-mouth respiration andI survived. I am reallyscared about having anorgasm again.A: Some people do haveasthma attacks during orafter strenuous activity.This can sometimes betreated by using aninhaler prior to engagingin the activity.Columbia Universityhealth web site[ 29 ]
  38. 38. 4Anything EmeritusLive on laurels$$: Not what it used to be, butstill, not bad for doing nothing. I don’t want to beemeritus anything.ß: 102. Don Hewitt, founder,former executive producer,Skills Required: Stay vertical 60 Minutesfor at least three hours a day.Duties: Show up. Or not.Famous Examples: Walter Cronkite, Jimmy Carter, BillCosby, who has between 100 and 120 honorary degrees.WHow to Get It: Kick ass for forty years and then sit backand wait for people to offer you a no-work position forrespectable compensation.WThe Upside: License for laziness.[ 30 ]
  39. 39. The Downside: What your mouth tastes like when youwake up from a five-hour nap.The Dark Side: Forget what you had for breakfast, andthen, after a while, forget whether you had breakfast.WWhere You Go from Here: Fairlawn.[ 31 ]
  40. 40. 5Aquarium Cleanerfor the RichDredge fish feces out of tanks nicerthan most people’s apartments$$: $35,000–$85,000.No one can feel asß: 27–68. ( Jobs that deal in ac- helpless as the owner oftual excreta ironically may in- a sick goldfish.volve a lot less bullshit than you Kin Hubbardmight think.)Skills Required: Good with squeegee, don’t hit the fishwith the net, don’t drip on the floor, ability to schmoozeendlessly about fish.Duties: Maintain exquisitely delicate ecosystems that areintimately linked to the emotional infrastructure of power-ful, infantile, excessively affluent capitalists.Famous Example: Scott McClellan.[ 32 ]
  41. 41. WHow to Get It: Find a job at a pet store, meet patrons ob-sessed with pH and salinity of water, learn which genusand species of fish play best with others.You may also choose to become a midlevel corporateexecutive working for a mogul, end up cleaning the fishtank,and never reach the point where you are comfortableenough with your station to delegate that job. After sixcorporate reorganizations and two divestitures, the fishtank gig is all that is left of your former role as executivevice president of development, so you just keep on doingthat. Hey, algae is not the only substance that is green.WThe Upside: JoinAquarist Paradise,which describes itself as“a global community of aquarists that share a commonbond:our passion for fishkeeping ...and our desire to shareour knowledge/experiences with like-minded aquarists.”The Downside: Fish mung.The Dark Side: Fish die horrible deaths with great regu-larity, often eaten by their associates.WWhere You Go from Here: Red Lobster.[ 33 ]
  42. 42. 6AromatherapistUse smelly things to make people feel better$$: $25,000 for simple scalpworkers to $87,500 for those Aromatherapy is essen-tially an interactionwith full-body expertise. between the therapist,ß: 73.8—not the aroma part,client, and essential oils,working together to bringthe therapy part. forth the healing energywhich will help the clientSkills Required: Good sense regain their sense of wellof smell and ability to not retch being and vitality.at continuous odor of patchouli Jade Shutesand musk.Duties: Mix potions and unguents and rub on bodies, in-cluding:Cananga odorata; Chamaemelum nobile; Citrus limon;Citrus sinensis; Eucalyptus globulus; Lavandula angustifolia;Melaleuca alternifolia; Pelargonium graveolens; Rosadamascena; Rosmarinus officinalis; Salvia sclarea; andmany more.[ 34 ]
  43. 43. I’m not sure which of the goos the aromatherapist I vis-ited a few years ago used on my head. She took off myshirt.I lay down with my face in a little doughnut of leatherand soft foam rubber. She washed my hair with some stuffthat smelled very good. And then she rubbed my scalp forabout an hour, which produced a variety of physical sensa-tions in various other parts of my body.When I left, anyanxiety I had felt before entering was pretty much goneand I was about $400 lighter,having also purchased a bunchof hair products in the hopes that self-aromatizing wouldproduce a similar result. In perhaps a tribute to the efficacyof the profession, it did not.Famous Example: René-Maurice Gattefosse, who in-vented the art and science of aromatherapy in 1928. Hediscovered that people with emotional and physical ail-ments responded to being slavered with various smelly oilsby a person purporting to be a practitioner of a science ofsome sort.WHow to Get It:The National Association for Holistic Aro-matherapy suggests a thirty-hour minimum to establish thefoundations. This includes a focus on ancient cultures,insights into up to twenty essential oils, their productionand use, an understanding of absorption and the systems—lymphatic, limbic, immune—that the oils are intended to[ 35 ]
  44. 44. work on both emotionally and physically.You must pass anexamination offered by a licensed aromatherapy school. Soroll up your sleeves and keep your nose clean.WThe Upside:Your bullshit doesn’t stink.The Downside:You must smear a variety of substances onpeople who smell funny to begin with.The Dark Side: Engorged nose syndrome leads to gigan-tic beezer.WWhere You Go from Here: Salad dresser.[ 36 ]
  45. 45. 7Ayurvedic HealerAyurveda is an ancient science based uponeffecting a balance between body, mind,and spirit to reduce susceptibility todisease in ailing ex-hippies$$: Not important. If you’reinto money, become another The most commonlyquoted definition ofkind of healer. Ayurveda is health is from Susruta.based on the Vedas, the Hindu This work is unique inscriptures that are thousands that it discusses bloodand thousands of years old.You in terms of the fourthdoshic principle. Thisneed to be spiritual, not merce- work is the first tonary. That said, a person has enumerate and discussto eat, so try to charge at least the pitta sub-doshas.$100 per hour, or 33 percent With its emphasis onpitta, surgery, andof the going rate for MD psy- blood.chiatrists in suburban commu-Michael Dick, who sellsnities where people don’t have ayurvedic training tapesenough to think about.The re-ally big money comes from[ 37 ]
  46. 46. people willing to pay for a complete day of healing at anayurvedic spa, which includes a little bit of yoga; a tastyvegetarian lunch; and three treatments, a massage, a facial,svedhana (medicated oil and steam and sauna), an ubvartanbody scrub, or a reflexology footbath, all for around $200.The truly advanced ayurvedic healer will hire the hands-on help for minimum wage, leaving him- or herself free tosit back in their office and study the Gitas at leisure.ß: Darned close to 200, unless you really believe in it, inwhich case you’re not reading this book.Skills Required: Spa management, avec un soupçon deBuddhism.Duties: The ability to instill balance in unbalanced indi-viduals.Famous Examples: Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, a Buddhistphilosopher, healer, and researcher of metallic alchemicalmedicines, generally considered responsible for bringingthe important Avatamsaka Sutra to Earth after a visit to theDragon Realm. Also Patch Adams, inspirational Westernphysician and subject of treacle-sweet movie starring RobinWilliams.WHow to Get It: The National Ayurvedic Medical Associa-tion suggests 500 hours of training. Master ayurvedic heal-[ 38 ]
  47. 47. ers move upward into the field of herbalism, and theAmerican Herbalists Guild suggests more than 1,600 hoursfor professional membership. Mail order degrees for thestatus of clinical ayurvedic therapist cost about $1,250.WThe Upside: Not much competition since nobody knowswhat it is.The Downside: Lots of sitting around involved,due to thefocus on meditation.Too much discussion of sutras can be-come tedious.The Dark Side: Extremely difficult to deal with peoplewho believe they just returned from the Dragon Realm.WWhere You Go from Here: Esalen, for a rest.[ 39 ]
  48. 48. 8Backup DancerDance behind people’s behinds,provide controlled substances,marry pop tarts$$: Depends on the divorcesettlement and the quality of As I mentioned before,I am now going to bethe prenup. expressing my personalß: 116.life through art. Thisseries will show us fallingSkills Required: Nice butt; in love and all theadventures that went onlook skanky for the tabloids, overseas during theachieve good facial stubble; European leg of my Onyxparty on! Hotel tour. It’s going to bean exciting ride. KevinDuties: Order room service feels this project willspeak for itself. Simplywith aplomb;refrain from trash-ing hotel rooms until well afterput, he says, “It is adocumentation of love.”marriage; perform when re-Britney Spears, on thequired. now-defunct UPN seriesFamous Example: KevinFederline defines the outer limits of this bullshit job. Aside[ 40 ]
  49. 49. from his reaching the post of stud and prince consortto Britney Spears, the nation’s No. 1 pop tart of ourday, Federline has a number of other achievements to hisname.He is perhaps best known for being the seventeenth-billed dancer in what is, in some circles, considered theworst movie ever made, You Got Served (2004), starring,among others, J-Boog and Lil’ Fizz. His greatest profes-sional triumph to date took place after his nuptials, whenhe and Brit coproduced the UPN series Britney & Kevin:Chaotic, which repackaged their home videos for publicscrutiny.WHow to Get It: The basics are out by one online expert:“You have to take some dancing lessons with a profas-sional,” he says, proving that spelling is not a requirement.WThe Upside: Proximity to many talented people, one ofwhom may encounter you in an overheated condition andmake a decision she will later regret and you will not.The Downside: Having your Ferrari towed away by yourpissed-off ex-wife.The Dark Side: Looking at sleeping pop tart withoutmakeup first thing in the morning.[ 41 ]
  50. 50. WWhere You Go from Here: Restaurant greeter, TacoBell.[ 42 ]
  51. 51. 9BaristaPrepare doses for crazed acolytes of the bean$$: Pretty lousy, starts at $7.75per hour. Baristas make less by A morning without coffeeis like sleep.the hour than the kids whoAuthor unknownconstruct Double-Doubles atthe In-N-Out—which are ab-solutely superb, by the way—who start at more than tenbucks an hour!ß: 52. Sometimes you have to work too hard.Skills Required: Nice smile. Ability to operate machin-ery, including cash register, possibly bake or microwavesmall, inedible but healthy pastry, without hurting oneself.Duties: Grind beans, load filters, steam milk, dispensemedication to addicts.Famous Example: The team at Peet’s Coffee in down-town MillValley, California. Hi, guys![ 43 ]
  52. 52. WHow to Get It: Fill out an ap-plication. Arrive sober. Coffee leads men to trifleaway their time, scaldtheir chops, and spendWtheir money, all for aThe Upside: Beautiful, rich, little, base, thick, nasty,sensuous coffee; coffee in beans bitter, stinking, nauseousin juicy,wildly odiferous blends;puddle water.The Women’s Petitioncoffee roasting, dripping; hot Against Coffee, 1674milk frothing;and other humanbeings reaching out to you forthe very thing that you can give them,plus free lattes for allyour friends.The Downside: Deal with agitated, needy customers onthe verge of a jag half the time.The Dark Side: Poverty.WWhere You Go from Here: Hand out medication in amental institution.[ 44 ]
  53. 53. 10Being a BrandBecome the personal embodimentof a product or service$$: Untold millions.My first job came when Iß: 45–101. was four years old, and Isold painted rocks fromSkills Required: Must have my wagon.achieved certain totemic status Kathy Irelandprior to assumption of brandidentity.Duties: Go dream up new ways to sell your name and im-age; wear large sunglasses, even at night.Famous Examples: The original genius in this area wasWalt Disney, who had the foresight and egomania to nameevery iteration of his vision for himself. More recently,Kathy Ireland, Martha Stewart, Jaclyn Smith, Mary-Kateand Ashley Olsen, each of whom appears on products insupermarkets that have nothing to do with what madethem famous.[ 45 ]
  54. 54. Also helps to be a doctor, as proven by Dr. Seuss, Dr.Scholl, Dr. Denton, Dr. J, Doc Marten, and Papa “BabyDoc” Duvalier.WHow to Get It: Nobody has done more with what Godgave her than swimsuit model Kathy Ireland.She started out modeling for Modern Bride for $300 perday. Then she upgraded to cover girl for the legendarySports Illustrated swimsuit issue.By 1993,she was marketinga line of “high-quality” socks under her name.Today, shehas mutated into a “lifestyle designer” and motivationalspeaker,with a full line of objects—from candles to carpets,to home office products—that,when purchased,confer ontheir recipient the totality of the Kathy Ireland zeitgeist.WThe Upside: See your name on people’s butts as they walkdown the street.The Downside:Tacky people like your stuff.The Dark Side:The horror of outliving one’s brand.WWhere You Go from Here: Kuala Lumpur, to overseeyour sweatshops.[ 46 ]
  55. 55. 11Being Donald TrumpArguably the No. 1 bullshit artist on the planet$$: No one really knows.One day of me is enough.ß: 200 (the maximum allowable Donald Trumpnumber).Skills Required: Swaggering,primping,overstating;helps to have short,intense attentionspan and OCD-related issues like fear of handshaking.Duties: Break a lot of wind, try to copyright the phrase,“You’re fired,” marry beauties from former Iron Curtaincountries, sue people who write the truth about you.Famous Example: DonaldTrump.WHow to Get It: Purport to be doing great no matterhow things are actually going; borrow money when youneed to.[ 47 ]
  56. 56. WThe Upside: Your name is im-printed on everything you eat, If bullshit was music, thatfellow would be a brasslive in, travel in, do your busi- band.ness in. Paddy CrosbieThe Downside: Idiots makefun of your beautiful orangehair.The Dark Side: Must refer to everybody as “Baby.”WWhere You Go from Here:The Bosley Institute.[ 48 ]
  57. 57. 12Best-selling AuthorCrank it out$$: $500,000 and up, depend-ing on royalties. Writer’s block is simply afailure of ego.ß: 67–190, depending on how Norman Mailermuch of your books you actu-ally write.Skills Required: Attend celebratory cocktail parties with-out falling over; read drafts of your upcoming books whenthey force you to.Duties: Cash checks.Famous Examples: James Patterson,Tom Clancy, MaryHiggins Clark, all of whose recent books sport a secondauthor in teeny-weeny type. Not that there’s anythingwrong with that.W[ 49 ]
  58. 58. How to Get It: It’s importantfor every reader to recognize It’s not enough tosucceed. Others mustthat bullshit jobs don’t just up fail.and fall into your lap from the Gore Vidalstart of your career as a workingperson. It is often necessary towork for years and years to reach the pinnacle of bullshitstatus, with its attendant easy lifestyle and ego-gratifyinglevels of fame and/or notoriety.This is nowhere more true than in the realm of best-selling authors,many of whom wrote good books for yearsbefore plunging into the pool of best-selling bullshit.WThe Upside: Knowledge that one’s name will live as longas there are airport bookstores.The Downside: Mandatory rehab after you are arrestedon the lawn of your Hamptons home dancing with a rawturkey.The Dark Side:You can’t start or finish anything withoutsomebody else’s “help.”WWhere You Go from Here:The Miami Book Fair.[ 50 ]
  59. 59. 13BloggerDownload contents of your mind,even when there aren’t any$$: Relatively small, but pros-pects for high-paying bullshit The trouble with theInternet is that it’sjob in the future are virtually replacing masturbationassured. as a leisure activity.ß: 92. Sometimes you piss off Patrick Murraythe wrong people.Skills Required: Ability to upload thoughts, vapors, re-sentments, insights, lack of insights, rumors, stuff you’veheard, stuff you haven’t heard, truth, lies, fiction, semifact,appropriated wisdom, logrolling, political and sociologicalvenom, self-promotion, and other cultural effluvia on ablank screen day in and day out; must possess the impres-sion that one’s quotidian brain activity is of interest to oth-ers. Helps to be funny but when that is impossible, beinghateful often suffices.[ 51 ]
  60. 60. Duties:Write all day. Write all night. Doo-dah.Famous Examples: Wonkette. All the blogs owned byMurdochian online minimogul Nick Denton—Defamer inLA,Gawker in NewYork—tend to be the crème de la crèmeof the genre, with vast knowledge of who is attractive andvulnerable to abuse. Others, like Matt Drudge and JimRomenesko, are not bloggers per se but packagers of otherpeople’s digital farts and,at times,actual journalism.WHow to Get It: Set up aWeb log by establishing a site.Thatis your blank slate. Don’t leave it blank for long. Start writ-ing,and by writing,I mean filling up the screen with words.Try to do this all the time. Let no notion or twinge go un-explored. After a while, your natural human tendency tobe appropriate or kind or thoughtful or to edit yourself inany way will decay, falling away from you like a dead husk.This is good. When it’s gone altogether, you’ll find youroutput will be staggering. It’s not that hard to write whenthe activity itself is the only job requirement.WThe Upside: This is one of the bullshit jobs you can doimmediately,with no training and no prior experience.Youcan also become very famous, since the established media,increasingly devoid of excitement and ideas of its own, has[ 52 ]
  61. 61. taken to siphoning off daily blogging activity as a muchbetter and more interesting alternative to actual news.The Downside:You need a full,daily dose of imagination,guile, bile, and people pouring nonsense into your headthat you can repeat.The Dark Side: Your skin glows an ethereal white, youreyes become rheumy and bloodshot. Hair erupts in hor-rendous places.You don’t care.You are now nothing but aconduit through which pass all the rare gases of the uni-verse.You are, in short, a blog.WWhere You Go from Here: McSweeney’s.[ 53 ]
  62. 62. 14Book EditorTake breakfast meeting with writers,assign ideas generated by others,hound writers for manuscripts, have lunch,hound writers for manuscripts,have drinks and dinner.Repeat as necessary.$$: $16,000–$450,000, de-pending. The lower you are No passion in the worldis equal to the passion topaid,the less bullshit your job is; alter someone else’sconversely, the more you make, draft.the more access you have to the H. G. Wellshighest, rocket-grade bullshitimaginable.ß: 15–104.What a range! Entry-level editors must rewriteand proofread manuscripts (like one this instance for), andfield angry phone calls from authors and agents so thattheir bosses can talk to other people with bullshit jobs (seeBest-selling Author).[ 54 ]
  63. 63. Skills Required:There are still some book editors aroundwho actually mark up manuscripts, but the truly successfulones wouldn’t risk inkstains on their Armani cuffs. Thegreat ones operate in pure ideas and conjecture—likewhich to order for lunch at Michael’s: the sweetbreads orthe Cobb salad? Occasionally,they will weigh into the pro-cess by barking,“Where’s my book!”The great book editoris at once a gifted salesperson, an arbiter of taste, a babysit-ter of lost souls, and a closet boulevardier. God bless them,both of them.Duties: Ability to “read” a 300-page book before lunch,while answering e-mails on his BlackBerry.Famous Example: Maxwell Perkins, a towering figure ofthe 1920s and ’30s, whose aggressive yet thoughtful shap-ing of the great modern authors like F.Scott Fitzgerald andThomas Wolfe, hewed solid monuments of literature outof flaccid, egotistical lumps of prose.The fact that MaxwellPerkins existed has made it possible for generations ofbook editors who came after him to feel good about theirprofession.WHow to Get It: Take a job for no money upon graduatingfrom an Ivy League school; live at your parents’ house forthree years until you make a living wage; then inherit a[ 55 ]
  64. 64. best-selling exercise book from an editor who’s left for abetter bullshit job.WThe Upside: Meet Oprah.The Downside: You are seated with James Frey and NanTalese at the PEN dinner.The Dark Side: Must eat at Elaine’s.WWhere You Go from Here: Elaine’s.[ 56 ]
  65. 65. 15BoulevardierFrequent the most fashionable places,enjoy the company of fatuous people whoare impressed with you and use your socialcachet as their own, or vice versa$$: None.Being a boulevardieris an ancillary bullshit occupa- I will not date adepressed woman.tion that must feed off a core I want to have fun.job that produces income.TheGeorge Hamiltonpremier boulevardier of ourtime, George Hamilton, acts tosupport his tan and his bon vivant lifestyle;his activities as aboulevardier in turn enhance his chances to obtain appro-priate roles satirizing himself.ß: 158.Skills Required: Charm, ability to sponge withoutshame.Duties: Dress well, speak a few languages, bleach teeth, beable to hold an infinite amount of liquor (!), know how to[ 57 ]
  66. 66. dance like a white man, remain on excellent terms withex-lovers and wives, look elegant, produce short bursts ofscintillating conversation.Famous Examples: In addition to George Hamilton? JayMcInerney (used to be a wunderkind), Henry Kissinger(used to be a war criminal),Tommy Lee (used to be sort-ofinteresting).WHow to Get It: Must be good-looking and have achieveda certain level of celebrity already,but not enough to makepeople uncomfortable. Beyond that, all that’s required isshowing up, over and over again, and always looking likeyou’re having fun.WThe Upside: Barry Diller always says hello.The Downside: Secret knowledge of one’s own fatuosity.The Dark Side: Skin cancer.WWhere You Go from Here: I don’t know. Where’s theparty?[ 58 ]
  67. 67. 16Business Book AuthorMake poor slobs feel more in control$$: Good to Great!ß: Freakazoidinal.Skills Required: Must be ableto write very short chaptersthat prey on insecurities ofworking people.Duties: Write book. Watchmoney roll in.Famous Example: SpencerJohnson, whose book WhoMoved My Cheese? stands as atestament to all that this book istrying to achieve. It is the storyof a tiny mouse who realizesthat all his problems in life arecreated by his unwillingness totake personal responsibility forMany years ago, Dr.Spencer Johnson washaving a difficult timedealing with a majorchange in his life. Hethought it wasn’t fair, andhe was confused andangry...So he made upthe story of Who MovedMy Cheese? to get him tolaugh at himself, with hisfollies and fears, and toencourage him tochange, move on andrealize something better.He kept the story tohimself and lived it untilhe found “New Cheese.”From the moving story ofWho Moved My Cheese?[ 59 ]
  68. 68. his cheese. Sounds dumb, huh? But when this object inyour hands is steadying the leg of a chair somewhere, thatstupid thing will still be flying off the shelves.WHow to Get It: Whether your book is designed to makethe reader feel just a little smarter than he did before heread it,or to instruct him in some wise,essential points thatanyone with common sense would know, you’ll need towrite very, very simply and in such a way that people whohave no desire to read your book will talk about it. Also—must have a good title, like this book.WThe Upside: Make huge bucks giving the same speech forthirty years.The Downside: You have fraudulently purported to beable to help people manage that which is unmanageable.Shame on you!The Dark Side: Macadamia nuts in your Ritz-Carltonminibar can’t be expensed.WWhere You Go from Here: Charlie Rose.[ 60 ]
  69. 69. 17Cable News DemagogueDeliver highly opinionated news and viewsto people who don’t want to hear anythingthat disagrees with them$$: $20 million per year.So anyway, I’d be rubbingß: Incalculable, due to size of your big boobs andgetting your nipples reallyincome and intensity of bull-shit.hard, kinda kissing yourneck from behind . . . andSkills Required:Talk talk talk. then I would take theother hand with theBe irate. Attack anybody who falafel thing and I’d justdisagrees with you. Call them put it on your pussy buttraitors. Know the difference then you’d have to do itbetween a falafel and a loofah. really light, just kind of atease business.Duties: Blow up a big fat bal- From the sexualloon every day. harassment lawsuit filedagainst Bill O’Reilly byAndrea MacKris, a formerproducer of his showFamous Example: BillO’Reilly.[ 61 ]
  70. 70. WHow to Get It: “If you arehonest, work hard, and try to And guys, if you exploita girl, it will come backhelp others when you can, then to you. That’s calledgood things will happen to you. “karma.”Life is full of little surprises.” Bill O’Reilly, The O’ReillyFactor for Kids, 2004In this statement, as in so manyothers, Bill O’Reilly showsothers that when it comes tothe fine art of bullshitting, he is without peer. Let’s look athis inspirational story.O’Reilly started at a smallTV station in Scranton,Penn-sylvania,for $150 a week,and augmented his income writ-ing promotional spin and interstitial dialogue for UncleTed’sMonster Fest, the station’s Saturday late-night horror movie.At the same time, he was sending his quirky news pods toABC News in NewYork, which was impressed and airedsome of them. From there he went to Dallas, then Denver,where he won an Emmy covering a skyjacking, and thento the NewYork local CBS affiliate,where he won anotherEmmy for investigative reporting. From there, he ascendedto the position of anchor at the CBS and ABC affiliates inBoston and a whole bunch of other big accomplishmentsbefore joining Fox in 1996, including receiving an MA inpublic policy from that great spin factory, Harvard’s Ken-nedy School of Government.[ 62 ]
  71. 71. In 1996, he asserted his rightto turn his chosen profession Patriotism is the lastrefuge of the scoundrel.into a bullshit job, and it is, infact, through that very transfor-Samuel Johnson, 1775mation that the society inwhich we live and work has awarded him the highest levelsof success and remuneration.The heart of O’Reilly’s bullshit is in his mastery of thefact that there is tremendous power in asserting what isobviously false as true.Thus O’Reilly’s television program,all spin,is known as the“No Spin Zone.”Brutal,mean,andimpressively full of it,he is a tower of bullshit achievement.Next to him, lightweights like Geraldo and Sean Hannitylook like Ben Franklin.WThe Upside: Pleasure of vanquishing the small andweak.The Downside: Must occasionally listen to other peopletalk.The Dark Side: Develop tendency to spew insane non-sense when exercised, like “If Al Qaeda comes in here andblows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it.We’re going to say, look, every other place in America isoff-limits to you, except San Francisco.”[ 63 ]
  72. 72. WWhere You Go from Here: Explode in a conflagration ofboiling fat.[ 64 ]
  73. 73. 18Celebrity Stylist/Aesthetic ConsultantCreate a look for peoplewho want to be looked at$$: Good bucks with no secu-He completely gets myrity whatsoever.If you lose yourmojo,you might as well go backbody.Kristin Chenoweth onto Boise. LA designer Kevan Hallß: 85–108; it’s all about whosebullshit prevails, particularly ifyou’re dressing Kathy Griffin.Skills Required: Overpowering personality capable offorcing insecure people to adopt your vision of themselves.Must be thin and absolutely fabulous by the standard set fiveminutes ago.Ultimate goal is to enable clients to look com-pletely individual and,at the same time,totally predictable.Duties: Attend catwalk shows, red carpets, openings, clos-ings, photo shoots; carry Crest Whitestrips for dental[ 65 ]
  74. 74. whiteness emergencies; appearon E! Channel with at least one Every time I see a photoof myself from the pastof the surgically reconstructed month, I think, “What wasRivers. I thinking?”Famous Examples: RachelChloë SevignyZoe (Rosenzweig), who makesup to $6,000 per day dressing,among others,Lindsay Lohan,Nicole Richie,and Jessica Simpson;Phillip Bloch,who doesJohn Travolta, Salma Hayek, and Jada Pinkett Smith; and ofcourse John Derek, who, with his wife Bo, took the field tothe highest level since Pygmalion kissed Galatea.WHow to Get It: Simply fall into the position from a worldthat naturally breeds fashion ideas, like hip-hop or prison.WThe Upside: Everybody wants to be your baby.The Downside: When your client makes the WorstDressed List.The Dark Side:You wake up one morning and look likeBruceVilanch.WWhere You Go from Here: Kmart, for all the marbles.[ 66 ]
  75. 75. 19CelebutanteBe fabulous and scandalousand famous and hot!$$: Millions for endorsementsand everything is on the house! Times are bad. ChildrenThat’s hot.no longer listen to theirparents, and everyone isß: 103 degrees. That’s hot. writing a book.Cicero, Circa 66 B.C.Skills Required: Look good;don’t give a shit; willingness tochange color of hair and eyes daily.Duties: Be slim, don’t lose cellular Sidekick, carry smalldog, do stuff in bathroom stalls.Famous Examples: Paris Hilton, and then everyone else.Genius comes in all shapes and forms, and hers is some-thing special.W[ 67 ]
  76. 76. How to Get It: Go anywhere,do anything, never let anybody Cockroaches andsocialites are the onlyharsh your glow. Be hot. things that can stay upW all night and eat any-thing.The Upside:The cover of Van- Herb Caenity Fair!The Downside: Daily bikini waxing, in case paparazzicatch you without underwear. Come to think of it, younever wear underwear!The Dark Side: Sleazy sex partner captures you on video-tape and sells your stoned, dazed, humping, raccoon-eyedact all over the world. No, wait a minute! That’s the up-side!WWhere You Go from Here: Carl’s Jr., for breakfast.[ 68 ]
  77. 77. 20Certified Massage TherapistRub other people the right way$$: $70–$100 an hour, as longI’m sure that youras you don’t end up on yourback; then it’s more.intentions are good, butI’m not comfortable withß: 25–56. It’s a lot of work, and that. So please take yourhands off me.you have to put up with a lot ofbullshit.Skills Required: Strong,Anonymous masseuse,Marin County, CA, where,according to one poll, onein five supermarketsmooth hands; no hangnails;shoppers is a certifiedmassage therapistgood breath.Duties: Increase relaxation andblood flow in others, but only in appropriate body parts.Famous Example: Phoebe from Friends.WHow to Get It: Get certified, which often takes between135 and 1,000 hours. After certification, advanced bullshit[ 69 ]
  78. 78. artists may extend the job into reiki, energy work, polarity,crystal massage, and other wanky stuff that hauls in thegullible and jacks up the price.WThe Upside: A terrific icebreaker when you meet peopleat a party.The Downside: You have to put up with clients sayingthings like,“Yes!Yes! Deeper! Deeper! More! More!” Plus,everybody always wants free massages.The Dark Side: Depending on your appearance,you haveto tell between 5 percent and 20 percent of your clientsthat you’re not interested in providing them with “lym-phatic drainage.”WWhere You Go from Here: Professional dog walker.[ 70 ]
  79. 79. 21ChairmanVisionary, autocrat, delegator$$: You’re beyond the pointwhere you need money.Money I am not a paranoidderanged millionaire,is for people who move through goddammit. I’m aspace in a world not of their billionaire.making.That’s not you. Howard Hughesß: It really depends on howyou’re feeling. Every once in awhile, you must deliver something not bullshit based, andthat makes up for all the bullshit you’ve heaped on theplanet at all other times. But not too often, OK?Skills Required: Make pronouncements; hear withoutlistening; have vision when required.Duties: Preside over meetings at which your mere pres-ence guarantees that nothing of substance is discussed.Famous Examples: Augustus Caesar. Mao Tse-tung.Howard Hughes. Frank Sinatra.[ 71 ]
  80. 80. WHow to Get It:You have alwaysbeen a different kind of duck. They are able becausethey think they are able.Led when others had no ideawhat to do. You were at onceVirgilthe most necessary and mostobnoxious person in any group.Actually,you never were ofthe group, even when you were surrounded by it. Everychance you had to advance, whether by peaceful means orby the annihilation of your enemy, you seized it.You havealways, in a sense, been the chairman, even before you gotthe title. Now that you are functionally insane, any self-doubts you used to have are completely evaporated and youare free! Free! Hahahaha!!!WThe Upside: Your feet do not touch the floor when youwalk.This saves money on shoes.The Downside: The voices in your head won’t let yousleep at night.The Dark Side: Everything is crawling with germs, andnobody knows how to clean your bottom without leavingit all red and chafed.WWhere You Go from Here: Cryogenic Freezing.[ 72 ]
  81. 81. 22Cheese ArtisanSculpt milk products for upscale restaurantsand pretentious markets$$: Virtually unlimited forthose who craft museum- Poets have beenmysteriously silent onquality work. the subject of cheese.G. K. Chestertonß: 73.8, since the number is re-duced when people actually eatwhat you make,rendering it useful.Skills Required: Must be able to make simple cheeseworthy of critical attention.Duties: Making cheese and cheese products is only thebeginning. From there, the artisanal cheese professionalmoves into the area where the fromage is honed, sculpted,packaged, and presented in a manner that makes all othercheese look likeVelveeta.Famous Example: Sid Cook, from the fourth generationof cheese artisans who operate the Carr Valley Cheese[ 73 ]
  82. 82. Company’s factory, located onCounty Truck Highway G in Blessed are the cheesemakers.La Valle,Wisconsin. Sid got hischeese-making license at ageMonty Pythonsixteen, an age when most peo-ple don’t even know that a license is required to makecheese.WHow to Get It: This is a field in which naïfs and talentedamateurs can rise to the top, especially those who work inEdam, Gruyère, dill-infused Havarti, or other alternativemedia.WThe Upside: The knowledge that people really love whatyou do, especially with crackers.The Downside: Critics don’t take you seriously just be-cause you work in cheese.The Dark Side: Mold!WWhere You Go from Here: Smoked meat artisan.[ 74 ]
  83. 83. 23Closet OrganizerOrganize closets for people whocan’t organize their own closets$$: Middling, unless the closetbelongs to some crazy rich per- One of the first tips I giveclients is to use theson, and who else would hire a same hanger for all yourcloset organizer? clothes—this allows youto see everything clearlyß: 99. and focus solely on theclothes.Skills Required: Some colorcoordination, decent feel forMelanie Charlton,closet organizerspatial relations,good techniquewith hangers.Duties: Soothe nutty, confused person. Gain her trust, orhis trust if you’re dealing with a male homosexual. Moveinto closet,winnowing out ugly stuff,thinning out the un-derbrush.Mandate decent hangers,solid shoe storage solu-tion,proper use of overhead areas.Take your time.This isn’tmeant to look easy. When you’re finished with the main[ 75 ]
  84. 84. closet opportunities,discuss such important line extensionsas mudrooms, garages, and basements. Be creative.You arethere to tend to a troubled soul in need of arrangement.Famous Example:Who cares?WHow to Get It: Start with friends, the way Tupperware orencyclopedia salespeople do.Then move outward in con-centric circles to ensnare all the loopy, unwound souls youcan find.WThe Upside: Unparalleled opportunity for those with anunhealthy interest in footwear.The Downside: Hard to explain what you do to seriouspeople,and therefore you may not find yourself around many.The Dark Side: Obsessive-compulsive disorder acquiredover time degenerates into horrible need to keep every-thing on matching hangers, followed shortly by madnessand death.WWhere You Go from Here: Stager, another bullshit job,where people set up an apartment that’s for sale to lookmore attractive than it actually is.[ 76 ]
  85. 85. 24Cold CallerHonk on the phone all day,trying to sell people things they don’t need$$: Piddling. But oh, the free-dom from thought! The lack of Good morning. This is________________ fromexpectations! If hope, as the Career Blazers. I’d likeZen masters say,is suffering,this to ask you a question.is a job without any of either. (Pause.) Do you have anytemporary needs today?ß: 75. Script of pitch sellingtemps to businessesSkills Required: Strong index who didn’t need them,finger; tolerance for being circa 1980sworn at and hung up on.Duties: Call people. Repeat scripted pitch. Call people.Repeat scripted pitch. Go home. Shoot self (optional).Famous Example: Me.W[ 77 ]
  86. 86. How to Get It: Answer a want ad. Or just walk in.In the latter part of the twentieth century,I took a breakfrom my successful career as an actor and strolled into theoffices of Career Blazers, a firm that blazed careers for un-employed people who were willing to do anything at thatpoint to make a buck. They took me into a back roomwhere eight human beings of various shapes and sizes werepounding on the phone,selling the company’s temps.Theygave me a script,a desk,and a pitch.The customary answerto “Do you have any temporary needs today?” was “No!But I’ve got some permanent ones you could probablyhelp me with!”followed by hilarious laughter and a click.Imade $87.50 a week, plus commissions, of which therewere exactly none.The office manager was a guy who satin a tiny outer office, staring into space and drinking cof-fee. He would be sitting there still if we all had not beenfired en masse about three months into my term of em-ployment, for the simple reason that together we had pro-duced no revenue.WThe Upside:You don’t have to dress up for work (or dressat all, for that matter, if you work from home); randomphone sex with low-level HR operatives.The Downside: People really hate you.The Dark Side:You stink.[ 78 ]
  87. 87. WWhere You Go from Here: You become a person whohas to talk to cold callers when they interrupt your dinnerbecause you’ve been there and know what it’s like to betreated rudely.[ 79 ]
  88. 88. 25Computer Game TesterFrag zombies$$: $40,000 per year, tons ofA good tester is like afree software, and state-of-the-bulldog . . . tenaciouslyart gear.digging his teeth into aß: 44. Surprisingly low, I know, bug and not letting gountil he figures it out.but keep in mind that you haveto keep some records of theTom Sloper, SloperamaProductionsgames you are playing for de-fects, possible improvements,monsters that walk through virtual walls when theyshouldn’t, imps that refuse to die no matter how manytimes you shoot them with the plasma gun.Skills Required: Great hand-eye coordination and a will-ingness to sit in front of a computer screen for twenty-fourhours a day without turning into a blob, or at least notminding it when you do.Duties: Play games, report quirks and bugs, smoke weed.[ 80 ]
  89. 89. Famous Examples: Back in the old days, before gaminggot corporatized, there were madmen who programmedtheir own games, tested them, put them up as shareware,and made history. For me the greatest will always be JohnRomero, whose id Software was the author of the greatfirst-person shooter games of the 1990s—Wolfenstein 3Dand Doom.Thanks, John, for all those wasted hours.WHow to Get It: Never listen to anybody who tells you thatyou’re losing your eyesight and turning your brain intocream cheese. Listen to them, and you could end up withanother bullshit job that’s a lot harder to do and at the bot-tom of the heap in terms of fun (see Lawyer).WThe Upside: Naked chicks bursting out of their tiny tees!The Downside: Zits.The Dark Side: You sink into the universe created in anew massive multiplayer online role-playing game andnever come out.WWhere You Go from Here: The planet Vrod III,where mutant zogs are attacking the starbase and a BFG iscalled for.[ 81 ]
  90. 90. 26Construction Site Flag WaverStand in street and cause confusion$$: Minimum wage formunicipal construction crew, If you want a place in thesun, you’ve got to put upwhich turns out to be more with a few blisters.than many employees make atAbigail Van Burencorporate jobs.ß: 90. Sometimes it’s too cold or too hot out.Skills Required: Strong upper torso for heavy trafficperiods; must look good in orange and stripes and beable to remain on feet for long periods of time withoutpassing out.Duties: Stand at“active”road construction zones and wavetraffic away from the guys who are chatting, having coffeeand a smoke before they go back to chatting,smoking,andhaving coffee.Famous Examples: Ed. Also Bob.[ 82 ]
  91. 91. WHow to Get It: It helps to know a guy who knows a guy.After that, you’re in. You will never stop “working.” Ipersonally have seen flag-waving and chin-wagging roadconstruction sites in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, SanFrancisco,and Los Angeles for twenty and thirty years withno indication of what the hell they’re doing. And still theflags are waved by the guy who, I believe, volunteered forthat duty solely out of the desire to have some fun drivingmotorists crazy. This is, in short, bullshit at its most ag-gressive and, for those with the proper frame of mind,satisfying.WThe Upside:Wave drivers on cell phones into a ditch.The Downside: You’re the only one working at the site.That’s really not fair.The Dark Side: Lots of exhaust in your face.WWhere You Go from Here: NFL ref.[ 83 ]
  92. 92. 27ConsultantHave gun, will travel$$: Entry level grunts may be-gin in the high five and low six His peculiarities causedhim to be invited to everyfigures. If you’re a graduate of house; all wished to seeone of the huge consultant fac- him, and those who hadtories that leach humanity out been accustomed toof students and turn them into violent excitement, andnow felt the weight ofguns for hire—Wharton,and to ennui, were pleased ata lesser extent, the somewhat having something in theirsquishier Stanford School of presence capable ofBusiness—you could be mak- engaging their attention.ing an executive’s salary almost The Vampyre, John Polidoriimmediately.ß: 50–150.Skills Required: Must be a champ at managing up. I wasat a meeting with a bloated toad of a consultant a decadeor so ago.Complete troll.Knew nothing.Didn’t wear sockswith his Weejuns. Nautical brass buttons on his blazer.We[ 84 ]
  93. 93. sat down, the president of my division and I, we who werebeing acquired, and spent about ten minutes running himthrough the realities of the business, its pitfalls, its variousconstituencies. He nodded judiciously, picked lightly atsome scabrous tissue at the edge of his earlobe, and said,“Who is responsible for paying my bill?” Then he made aquick phone call, and we were instantly joined by one ofthose android junior nerdlinger types who seem pressedout of foam board.At that time in history,it was permissiblefor younger consultants to have a tiny soul patch belowtheir lower lip, so he had one. “I want Mike to be fullybriefed as well,”said the sockless boss dude.From that timeforth, we dealt with Mike.The big gasbag worked directlywith the chairman, because he was the one who cut thechecks.Duties: Chopper in. Get your orders. Receive validationfrom senior officer,one that allows you to push staff peoplearound a little bit. Schedule meetings in which people areforced to talk about things they probably would rather not.“Capture”the“findings”in big pieces of paper you post onthe walls during the meeting. “Drill deep” into “process”with employees. Identify “challenges and opportunities”and “reach for new solutions.” Go off. Have several glassesof malbec.Write“findings,”telling your client a mixture ofthe things he needs to hear,the things he wants to hear,andthe stuff you tell everybody. Go home. Feel good, having[ 85 ]
  94. 94. left the problems you solved and the problems you createdbehind you.Famous Example: Gershon Kekst, the elderly, avuncularYoda who runs his own communications and crisis man-agement agency. Big companies who have a problem callKekst, get Kekst, have a meeting with Kekst at which he iswarm, wise, and wonderful. Everybody feels much better.The problem doesn’t go away, really, but management cansay they are working with Kekst. By the way, unless some-thing is very wrong indeed, that is probably the last timeanybody concerned sees Kekst,except for the Kekst family,possibly.WHow to Get It: I hate to tell you this, but the best route toconsultancy is business school.The good news is that, un-like medical or law school, this involves a level of bullshitthat any reader of this volume will find easily achievable.WThe Upside: It’s a pretty easy job,with great travel benefits,nice hotels, drinks on the companies you are soaking.The Downside:Your kids can never explain what you doto their friends.[ 86 ]
  95. 95. The Dark Side:You are a ninja, a samurai, a lone traveleron the road to nowhere. It’s a very opulent nowhere ifyou’re good at it. But somewhere in your heart, you wantto come in from the cold.WWhere You Go from Here: Seat 3H in first class. Get tothe Glenlivet fast because it goes quick.[ 87 ]
  96. 96. 28ContractorManage subcontractors,leave when job is 75 percent done$$: Whoa, Nellie. If you takeon and incompletely serve a full It’s good to be the king.complement of clients, you can Mel Brooksreally clean up.ß: 37. All the bullshit here is in the endgame, compared toother jobs that are shot through and through with it frombeginning to end (see Economist).Skills Required:You have to be able to walk around withyour hands on your hips in an evaluating fashion and givean estimate in such a way that when you blow by it later by,say, 75 percent, nobody is really very mad at you. Believeme, that kind of bullshitting is hard to learn and evenharder to carry off without being assaulted.The true job of a contractor is to manage a large team ofillegal immigrant workers and craftsmen, getting them towork quickly and well up to the point where the job is al-[ 88 ]
  97. 97. most complete. By then, you should have accomplishedone of the key skills of any bullshit professional in thisregard—getting paid.Duties: Now is when the true job of the contractor kicksin—putting off the least profitable and most aggravatingpart of any job: finishing it. For here is where the averagecustomer is a total pain, demanding niceties, like moldingwhere you said it was going to be, or touch-ups to thepaint job you ruined when you moved in the stove, and ahost of other time-consuming activities that make you farless in profit than the first 80 percent of the job has done.You’ve got to do the absolute minimum, stalling and stall-ing until the poor client gives up and does whatever youwant just to end the pain of associating with you. In thisway, your work is not unlike that of the successful divorceattorney.Famous Example:Vince Mancuso, who did my house inthe 1990s. Most of what he did was great, and what hedidn’t finish doesn’t matter anyhow. He only exceeded hisestimate by 20 percent, so that wasn’t so bad.The day wedidn’t have to deal with him anymore was one of the great-est days of liberation since the Allies marched into Parisin 1945,which I was too young to see.Important note:Hisname was not really Vince Mancuso or anything like it. Idon’t want any contractors of that name coming to myhouse and shooting me with a gun like the one the real[ 89 ]
  98. 98. Vince Mancuso (which is not his name) kept in his glovecompartment.WHow to Get It: This in its essence is a management job.The successful contractor doesn’t do work, per se, not aftera while. He hires people who know how to do it and thenkeeps an eye on the pace of things and the costs associated,scares up new business, takes home most of the gravy. He’sthe boss. Nothing better than that.WThe Upside: Bag the occasional wife.The Downside: If you aggravate enough people,you haveto go back to being a subcontractor, and there’s nothingbullshit about that.The Dark Side: A few years ago I was driving up mystreet, and about two blocks away I passed by a house thatwas burning down.The family that had bought it had hireda contractor to gut it,put in a new roof,fix it up,and give itto them on time. A week before they were to move in, theplace was far from being in any liveable condition, so thesubcontractors were working around the clock, includingthe guy who was supposed to do electrical, who it turnedout later wasn’t really licensed. So on the Friday before theMonday the family was supposed to take possession, the[ 90 ]
  99. 99. crew decided to knock off early,their boss being decampedfrom the scene.The electrical guy left something running,and a spark set the new roof on fire because it was beingcoated with something flammable,due to the fact that timewas short and everything had to be done at once. And theroof caught and made a merry blaze, and when it was allover the only thing left standing was the Port-A-Potty.WWhere You Go from Here: Project manager, KennedyAirport reconstruction project.[ 91 ]
  100. 100. 29Corporate Yes-ManHelp senior management feel good about itself$$: $27,500–$1.5 millionand up. I don’t want any yes-menaround me. I wanteveryone to tell me theß: 60.truth—even if it costsSkills Required: Much more him his job.difficult than it appears to be. A Sam Goldwyntrue yes-man must listen care-fully to the thoughts and opin-ions of his or her bosses and triangulate which opinionsare important enough to be agreed with. Indiscriminateyessing engenders disrespect and mistrust, just as maladroitsucking up can ruin the credibility of a perfectly goodmiddle manager and make subsequent brownnosing andtuft hunting ineffective.Faux agreement is a highly orches-trated and subtle form of bullshit, and should not be han-dled by the inexperienced, shallow, or dense.[ 92 ]
  101. 101. Duties: Telling nabobs of onesize or another what they want The basis of optimism issheer terror.to hear without having themOscar Wildecome to the conclusion thatyou are a despicable, untrust-worthy, worthless moron whose opinions have no validitywhatsoever.To use agreement as a strategic tool that helpsyour superior feel good about doing the right things, andto achieve your own personal goals by doing so.Famous Examples: H. R. Haldeman, who worked forRichard Nixon and agreed with him all the way to im-peachment; the guys who worked for Howard Hughes,who yessed him to the point where they are said to havedecided, as a group, to put him out of his misery with alethal injection; Harriet Miers, who never heard an opin-ion from George W. Bush that she didn’t find absolutelybrilliant.WHow to Get It: Deploy a protostrategy of yessing at thejob interview. Quiz your potential employer about a num-ber of key issues,and at critical points initiate the first phaseof any yesmanship—nodding. After nodding come smallexclamations of accord, after which, if they are acceptedwith even moderate pleasure, more substantial statements[ 93 ]
  102. 102. of support. If you are hired after this, you know that youhave a senior manager who is susceptible to judiciousagreement. After that, less is more. It is unwise to disagreetoo often or too strenuously, but an occasional demurral ispermissible, as is a strong, vocal voicing of opinions on is-sues the boss has yet to claim or opine about.This is widelatitude indeed in many cases, and one that is rarely ex-plored by craven yes-men who give the entire bullshit ap-proach a bad name.WThe Upside: Effective yessing gives you the right to speakyour mind when you have one.The Downside:You must occasionally lose at golf to menwho play worse than you do.The Dark Side: Utter public humiliation. At a staff meet-ing a long time ago, the then-president of the companywas seated next to our then-chairman, Dan, a scary guywho didn’t like to be contradicted.The problem was, Dandidn’t always share his opinion on things before requisi-tioning yours, and if you came up with the wrong one, hispupils got very tiny and the rest of his iris spread out tooccupy his entire eyeball. It was not a pretty sight. So any-how, the president, we’ll call him Bill, was sitting thereminding his own business, and Dan turns to him and says,“About that Baltimore thing,Bill,what do you think about[ 94 ]
  103. 103. it?”And Bill sits there like a total dummy, and then he says,“I think whatever you think, Dan.” And the whole table,after a beat, cracks up. Ooh.You don’t want that to happen.WWhere You Go from Here: FEMA.[ 95 ]
  104. 104. 30CriticSuck thumb for big bucks$$: Not very much.This rela-tive poverty, compared to many Critics are like eunuchsin a harem; they knowof the authors, filmmakers, and how it’s done, they’veother artists whose work they seen it done every day,pass judgment on, sometimes but they’re unable to do itmakes them harsh, bitter, vin- themselves.dictive, petty, vicious, unpleas- Brendan Behanant, and unattractive. Did Imention hateful?ß: 25–175.Skills Required: Must be able to toss those pucks aroundat any length.Duties: Project your own tastes, notions, and hopes forour larger civilization onto some creative person who isattempting to make a buck.[ 96 ]
  105. 105. Famous Examples: EdmundWilson, a tremendous writer The only reviewer whoever made an impressionand artist in his own right, on me was Skabichevsky,whose voluminous journals and who prophesied that Iworks of criticism have outlived would die in the bottommuch of the musty stuff he was of a ditch.assigned to write about. Frank Anton ChekhovRich of The New York Times,whose blatant, fawning Anglophilia virtually destroyedAmerican playwriting in the 1980s.WHow to Get It: The thing is, if you were going to be abullshit critic,you would pretty much know it already.Youwould have begun fomenting nasty, pointed diatribes inyour student newspaper a long time ago. You would becomfortable telling people what you thought of moviesyou haven’t even seen yet.WThe Upside: People fear and spit shine you all the time,even though for the most part it will do them no good.The Downside: All your friends are critics.The Dark Side: A while ago, my friend Stanley ran intothe guy who killed his book in The New York Times. Hepunched him in the nose.[ 97 ]
  106. 106. WWhere You Go from Here: Wherever it is, you’re notcompletely happy with it.[ 98 ]
  107. 107. 31CrumberRemove detritus fromdining tables in restaurants$$: $5.50 per hour,more if youget a piece of the tips. Life is what you do whileyou’re out making otherplans.ß: 100.John LennonSkills Required: Must wielddecrumbing implement.Duties: Wait until exact right moment during the mealbeing enjoyed by others, swoop in, decrumb. Go back tocorner and wait for next opportunity.Famous Examples: To be found at the nearest little the-ater near you or at your local art gallery, lurking aroundoutside with a portfolio in her hands, or shivering on astreet corner waiting for a chance to get inside the studioand sing for somebody. The most famous, in my experi-ence, is actress/model Gretchen Mol, who was checking[ 99 ]
  108. 108. coats at Michael’s restaurant one day and on the cover ofVanity Fair the next.WHow to Get It: Look around you.They’re everywhere—people who must take crumby jobs while they are waitingfor something else to come along to lift them up and out.WThe Upside: Get to use cool tool and eat leftovers.The Downside:Waste of life.The Dark Side: Get to like crumbing,as opposed to audi-tioning.WWhere You Go from Here: LA, if you know what’s goodfor you.[ 100 ]
  109. 109. 32Customer ServiceRepresentative,Canned Food CompanyTake complaints, apologize when there are nomaraschino cherries in the fruit cocktail,compensate with coupons$$: About $20,000 a year, un-less you are part-time. Q: There’s a slug in mycreamed corn.ß: 48–123, since while theproblems people present are A: I’m sending you acoupon for six free cans.generally bullshit, your solu-tions are not. How many beefs Q: Wow! Great, man!can be resolved with a couple Thanks!of coupons for free cans of fruit Actual conversationbetween complainingsalad? If the whole world could caller and customeraffairs representativebe healed that way, what a bet-ter place it would be![ 101 ]
  110. 110. Skills Required: Must be good at dealing with angrypeople who require a real solution to a bullshit problem.Duties: Receive multiple telephone calls and e-mailscomplaining about the product, ascertain solutions, andimplement them so that the issues,and the people,go away.Look for better job.Famous Example: My friendTed, who did it for a whileand then moved on to selling linoleum glue over thephone.WHow to Get It: Like many who need a job but are not yetinterested in a career,Ted parachuted into a whole bunchof wanky employment situations through a temp agencythat sent him out to explore the great and disturbing un-known, which remains unknown, I believe, for a reason.This was just one of many opportunities he was given todo a bunch of bullshit for a little bit of money. Anothertime he went to a legal firm whose department wasn’t ex-pecting him, so he was given the job of pasting name tagson plastic binders. Another time, he chauffeured around abunch of Asian businessmen who were mad that he didn’tknow how to fix them up with cocktail waitresses.W[ 102 ]
  111. 111. The Upside: Make your own hours. Always different. Sel-dom boring. Easy exit.The Downside: Makes you never want to eat canned fruitagain.The Dark Side: Somebody finds a finger in their peaches.WWhere You Go from Here: Back to school,for a career inmarket research.[ 103 ]
  112. 112. 33Diet DoctorInspire fat people to buy books$$: On its lowest levels, whichthey call a nutritionist, it’s still The biggest seller iscookbooks and thepretty good, well into the mid- second is diet books—$100,000 level,since very needy how not to eat whatpeople with low self-esteem you’ve just learned howwill flock to you and never to cook.Andy Rooneyleave. At the guru level (seeGuru), the money is excellent,and if you have a successful book you are truly in fat city.ß: 99.Skills Required: Repackage old wisdom in designer jeans.Duties: On a personal level, meet with fat people and lis-ten to why their fatness is not related to what they eat,eventhough you both know otherwise. Discuss at length yourown personal philosophy (note:get a personal philosophy).Brainwash client into accepting your philosophy. Counsel[ 104 ]
  113. 113. client during painful process ofgetting thin. Avoid hatred of I’ve decided that perhapsI’m bulimic and just keepclient when all the weight is forgetting to purge.gained back. Refer client to Paula Poundstonesurgeon you know for perma-nent results.Famous Examples: Dr. HermanTarnower, author of theScarsdale Diet,which died when he did at the hands of hisformer lover, Jean Harris, the headmistress of a poshDC-area private academy. Dr. Atkins, whose low-carb dietreally works until you go quietly insane and begin dream-ing of toast.WHow to Get It: The job you really want here is not dietdoctor, of course, it’s ghostwriter.WThe Upside: Money. Sex. Power.The Downside: Can never eat a Ring Ding without look-ing over your shoulder.The Dark Side: Posthumous decline in your book sales,particularly if you die under fat circumstances.WWhere You Go from Here: Cabo San Lucas.[ 105 ]
  114. 114. 34Dolphin TrainerGet aquatic mammals to smilefor Kodak moments$$: Decent.They call him Flipper,ß: 65. Flipper, faster thanlightning,Skills Required: Must look No-one you see, isgood in wet suit. smarter than he,And we know Flipper,Duties: Performs and oversees lives in a world full ofwonder,fish catching, netting, and re-moval of sea life from lagoons;Flying there-under, underthe sea!trains staff for manatee rescueTheme song of originalteam; participates in animal Flipper TV show,September 1964–necropsy. April 1967Famous Example: Mitzi,whoplayed the original Flipper inthe 1960s television series.Wait a minute.That was the dol-phin.[ 106 ]
  115. 115. WHow to Get It: The applicant must be diver certified,physically fit and able to lift seventy-five pounds,work wellwith animals, repair gear, and have a clean driving record.The job itself isn’t actually all that bullshitty. But the yearsof hanging around being a diver qualifies this one for thelist.WThe Upside: Play with Flipper or Mitzi or whomever.The Downside: Necropsy.That can’t be good.The Dark Side: Must deal with Zipper, Flipper’s legend-ary evil twin.WWhere You Go from Here: See Aquarium Cleaner forthe Rich.[ 107 ]
  116. 116. 35EconomistGenerate conflicting opinions$$: Academics make professors’salaries, in the high five or low I guess I should warnyou, if I turn out to besix figures.Those who work for particularly clear, you’veWall Street firms or other fidu- probably misunderstoodciary institutions can make what I’ve said.enough to force Eliot Spitzer to Alan Greenspansit up and take notice.ß: 128.Skills Required:Write very poorly,or at least so obliquelythat no matter what happens in reality, the theories andprognostications you offer can never be called wrong, ex-actly.Duties: Teach. Study global trends.Think about the rela-tionship between markets and monetary phenomena. Em-brace and/or construct economic theories that fit withyour political leanings.For instance,liberal economists tend[ 108 ]