Monday, January 24, 2011

Berka Consulting, Inc.

Let’s lay it out on the table: Most consultancy is a joke.  My rationale is sound and I’ll prove it, but let’s begin with an example:

A handful of months ago, I attended a presentation to a cross-section of my company’s leadership on the topic of “Generation Y.”  Since Millennials, as a generation, are really quite the enigma and scientifically non-human, the event organizers invited a handful of young adult employees to attend for translation needs.

I could immediately see why we were invited.  The 26-year-old millionaire on stage was making groundbreaking statements, like how this new generation of employees and customers are “tech-dependent,” demand “instant gratification,” and sometimes come with a “sense of entitlement.” The Boomers in the room nodded vigorously in revelation and jotted thorough notes.  My fellow Millennials and I shot sideways glances at each other, obviously in unanimous thought: We really dropped the ball on writing books that characterize obvious traits of our own generation and pitching ourselves as consultants. 

We commiserated on the way back to our cubes and TPS reports that we should all quit our jobs and return to work for our employer as external consultants, enjoying a third of the work and triple the pay.  No but really—An internal contingency of young adult employees could provide not identical, but better perspective at no cost, with less receptivity from the organization.  But why?

Most obviously, consultants wield the power of some omniscient external perspective.  But to rake in the cash, they have to offer that (typically empty) perspective with flare.  At its heart, the Gen Y presentation consisted of two components: basic facts and a fantastic performance.  Without saying really anything new or of value, the energetic speaker knew his audience exactly and used all of the right examples.  I wish I were joking that his heart-wrenching anecdote at the close of his presentation left some attendees teary-eyed.

Many people try to replicate similar performances on a daily basis in the business world.  Those who fail fill up our Bullshit Bingo cards.  Those who succeed become consultants, and you pay them inordinate amounts of money to state basic business facts in an ostentatiously eloquent manner. 

After some careless consideration, I decided that my aforementioned degree in bullshit and flare for the dramatic positioned me well to go into consulting myself.  I am starting my own company, Berka Consulting, Inc., so I, too, can be a thought-leader in business common sense. 

Do you understand basic concepts like, “It is unprofitable for costs to exceed revenue?”  Do you follow difficult tactics for structuring work akin to, “You need to pair the right skill sets with the right jobs to maximize production?”  If so, consider bankrolling with Berka Consulting, Inc. Applications forthcoming.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Defective Face Girl

My defective face was best summarized by my physical therapist who, while twisting my entire lower mandible away from my skull, said: “Since you are bad at telling me when this becomes too painful, I just look for the vein to pop in your forehead.”  It was more humorously summarized by my older brother years earlier in the song he composed just for me titled, “Defective Face Girl.”  I can’t remember the lyrics exactly, but it went something like:

I know a girl and she has a face and it’s DEFECTIVE
She tries really hard but it still doesn’t work ‘cause it’s DEFECTIVE!
Defective Face Girl!
Defective Face Girl!

He would occasionally ditch his guitar mid-chorus to perform a wonderfully ridiculous dance (if you could call it that.)  And the verses went on, for some reason to the tune of the Batman theme song, covering with detail the two reasons for my facial inferiority.

1.     The giant unsightly vein in the middle of my forehead. 

It’s not present all of the time—only during laughter, embarrassment, anger or any other event causing my body temperature to otherwise raise above 98.6 degrees.  If you’d like to see it and haven’t, you could probably just try pointing it out and proceed with mockery, like my brother. He’d advise you duck or run immediately after.

To cope with residual emotional scarring and insecurity, I keep a running list of successful and/or attractive famous people in the fraternity of forehead veins. Some of them include:

  • Heather Graham
  • Rachel McAdams
  • Julia Roberts
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Tom Cruise
  • Robert Pattinson
  • Conan O’Brien

You know the other thing, guys? I’m really, really smart. Damn brilliant, even.  If you were as smart as me, you would need an inordinate amount of blood flow to power your extremely high brain functioning too. I bet if we go back in time, we’d find massive veins in the foreheads of Einstein, Da Vinci, Picasso, Michaelangeo, etc. Socrates and Aristotle each had three forehead veins. Fact. Look it up.

I’ll refrain from continuing so as not to appear overly insecure or desperate…If it’s not already too late…

2.     My malfunctioning jaw.

First of all, an education for all of those who say to me, “Oh, you mean like you have TMJ? Me too—My jaw pops sometimes.”

Friends, TMJ is only an acronym for the temporomandibular joint, itself.  So your empathy, while well intended, is actually like saying to someone who just tore an ACL, “Oh, yeah—I have an ACL too. It’s terrible.”  TMD, is the generic name assigned to any malfunction or problem with the bones, muscles or tissue surrounding the TMJ.   Though generic jaw popping and clicking do fall into this category, so do things like joint dislocation, immobility, deviation and osteoarthritis (my TMD). 

The good news is that the TMD has allowed me to exercise my long-restrained oral/maxillofacial surgeon fetish.  I just can’t get enough of them.  I also prefer to challenge myself with the high-class surgeons—Four Northwestern face doctors each wielded four different surgery recommendations, and four reactions of disbelief that I’ve never suffered from severe head trauma upon reviewing my x-rays.  But after years of medical promiscuity, I’ve decided to settle down with Dr. Four and begin battling insurance companies for surgery looming in my uncomfortably near future.

As an added bonus, surgery will also allow me to reclaim a post-operative spark with my physical therapist.  “What’s physical therapy for the jaw entail?” everyone asks. (Insert eyebrow raise or long pause here…Perhaps some inappropriate joke about choosing the wrong career path.)  Actually, it really sucks (Pun intended).  As I opened this post with, it is a painful hour of pulling, pushing, twisting and otherwise abusing my jaw to try to prevent my entire lower mandible from shifting to the right, disfiguring my face, and inhibiting rather unnecessary activities like talking or eating.

My jaw saga continues, with no pity party intended—I merely find myself recounting or referring to it often, so thought I’d post it here.  The real bonus is that I bet I can effectively convince my surgeon to just nip my forehead vein while he’s in there.  I mean, it can’t be an important one, right? Surely not…