Self-Aggrandization as an Art Form

I have a bronchial infection. I’m on amoxicillin, loratadine (Claritin) with pseudoephedrine (the stuff you have to show ID to get over the counter), and naproxen (Aleve). Yet, I am the pure awesome. Wanna know why?

I had class tonight, session 8 of 10 for Strategic Thinking. Every week, we have to do a paper (~4 pages) discussing a strategy recommendation for various companies that we’re introduced to via case studies. For tonight’s class, our assignment was on Enclean circa 1992. They were a horribly dysfunctional company with a huge debt problem and no clear way to turn things around. Our task was to tell the Board of Directors, in speech form, how to turn things around. We were to write the paper as if we were the CEO giving a speech to the board, and we were to prepare to give the speech to the class, though only a few students would actually end up presenting.

I did the paper during the weekend. I got done earlier than planned, and for that and a few other things, I rewarded myself by going to see UP! in 3D. (It was a really good movie, btw. I laughed, I cried…and now I want a grape soda pin!) I felt pretty good about it. I’d done a solid financial analysis, and I had a good plan for the company, though if I’d had my choice, I’d be telling them to harvest and get out.

Then, I got to class tonight. About ten minutes before class, I remember that I might get chosen to present. I had no notes, nothing to talk off of, and I didn’t like the idea of just reading from my paper. For one thing, the instructor wants papers done in 10 point font, single spaced, which means they’re not easy to read or scan for points. This one in particular, because I’d written it in speech form, wasn’t subdivided into topics that would make it easily scannable. So, I quickly, in less than five minutes, did up a powerpoint of my main topics. I pasted in the financial analysis charts I’d done, and the org chart that I’d need to reference as part of my turnaround plan. I know I did it that fast, because I had precisely that much time to do it before class started. It wasn’t fancy. I just used an Office 2007 style that was clean and neat but better than basic.

An hour and a half into class, the instructor asks for volunteers to present. I wanted to volunteer…after all, I’d gone to the trouble to do a PPT! 🙂 But, I desperately needed to pee. We hadn’t had a break yet, and to keep from coughing, I was drinking constantly…plus the loratadine is a diuretic. So, I hesitated, trying to decided if I could hold it while presenting, particularly if I started having a coughing fit midway through. While I hesitated, another person from class tentatively raised their hand. The instructor welcomed him and explained that he (the instructor) would take notes on the issues, history, and plan on the board, and then invite another 1-2 people to present, continue to take notes on unique points…and then the whole class would discuss if there was anything that hadn’t already been covered.

So, the first person started. And, bless him, the guy had a ton of detail. I’m about to criticise him, but he volunteered, and he had good data and good points, though he got a bit lost in the trees and wasn’t summing up the forest. The instructor diligently wrote some twenty odd points on the board, and you could see that the instructor was thinking the guy had done too much detail, but he didn’t want to embarrass the guy by telling him to sum it up. (He tried to give him this feedback later on, and the guy kind of picked up on it and fixed it.) But, the guy presenting was speaking in a monotone, and he’s got an accent that makes his words blur together. Plus, he clearly hadn’t written his paper in the form of a speech to the board. His paper started with, “The first question is what are the key issues facing the company. The first issue is…”

When it became clear that, five minutes in, the guy still hadn’t tapped into the second or third parts of the assignment, I took my quick pee break. I came back refreshed and ready to present. The class was dying. It was just too much dry content.

So, eventually the guy finished…and like I said, no matter how harsh I’m being, I give him huge credit, because it’s damn hard to get up there first, and I mean, when English is your second or third language, to be able to present in an understandable way at all is fucking huge…to be able to analyse and present a case in it? Hell, I couldn’t do that in French, much less Japanese. And the guy is clearly smart. He’s a data person, though, and like many data people, he goes into details instead of summing it up. (I deal with engineers all the time; I know how this goes.) And once the instructor kind of clued him in that he was going into too much detail, he summed things up and finished up pretty fast…so it’s not like he was just clueless.

When the instructor asked for volunteers, I shot my hand up so fast. I mean, it kind of sucks, because in retrospect, it probably looked like I was letting some sucker go first so I could outstage them (spoiler alert! 🙂 ), but really, honest to god, I just needed to pee, else I would have been just as eager at the get-go.

I tell the instructor I have a powerpoint that I can show if he likes or I’ll just use it as my notes. He says to go for it, so I set up. And I start off by telling the board that we’re in sad shape. I address the class colloquially, I run through my points. I’m succinct, I’m interesting…I make eye contact, I show pretty figures…I’m fucking awesome. I mean, I’m well-known in my class for being a good presenter, a good speaker. But beyond that, I gave good data. And I did it with no real prep short of writing the paper and throwing together a PPT in five minutes. Lo and behold, I even make several points that hadn’t been made yet, so go me. I finish to a round of rousing applause from the class. The instructor decides that’s the last speech, and we have some class discussion about other options, and lots of people bring up good options that haven’t been mentioned yet.

Then, at long last, we get our first and only ten minute break during the class. I’ve already peed, so I just get up and stretch my legs…and I go to the admin desk to pick up next year’s class calendar, so I can plan trips and such around it. On my way to the admin desk, two different people stop me and tell me my speech was brilliant. One person says I should be [my company]’s CEO. (Damn straight. I could turn the company around if they’d let me. Our current CEO is…lacking, and I’ve met the guy. I’ve presented for him. I’ve heard him on calls. He’s just not…he’s not looking ahead, and he’s not taking proactive steps. I’m convinced he’s harvesting the company…but anyways…) After I get the calendar I needed, I walk over to the snack area to get more ice. Three more raving compliments…one of which talking about my preparation by having a PPT (hee!)…and then I go back in the classroom to more compliments.

My head is the size of Canada right about now. It’s visible from space. How are you people still alive? How have you not been crushed by the massiveness of my ego? 🙂

PS – We also have been running a simulation game for this class. I had the highest score in the class, and, in further insult to prepared people everywhere, I did it in one run of the sim. My simulated company made a little over a billion dollars in four years, finishing up with around 66% market share. Our instructor, running the same sim, made around 815 mil. 🙂

3 thoughts on “Self-Aggrandization as an Art Form”

  1. Aaaargh! So that’s what that was! I thought it was merely total lunar and galaxy wide stellar eclipse. By the way, the company sim sounds fun, where do you get it?

  2. I would like a presentation on how to harvest pure awesomeness from unsuspecting victims. Present this in instructional format and be efficient with details. I expect to receive your presentation as soon as possible.

    Thank you.

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