Back To School

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Lesson Seven: If You Can't Say Anything Well…

Essay Time! Write yourself a nice, long, thick damn essay about any of the following subjects:

Contributions to your team
A list of more than one thing
Age-appropriate stylistic choices
Shutting the hell up
Stuff other people might possibly know about

Great. Now fold it up, shove it in a #10 envelope with a SASE, and address it to:

The Apprentice
P.O. Box 122
Your Ass, NY 10010

And I want you to mail that bastard as hard as you can.

Here's an example: "None of us have enough time it's easy to say gee time is what it is and and let's not think about it but it's really is it is what meaning you give it and then start talking about how how that how those two things can can can end up in results. I'm done." Thanks, Markus. Alla's like, "That's great, that's one topic -- kind of -- and even though I neither asked you to say it aloud, nor did I ask you to interrupt what we call quiet brainstorming time, and in fact implied that you should spend ten minutes out of your entire life thinking with your mouth closed, why don't you hit us with four more? Since you're already rudely commandeering and wasting our time, and all."

Markus is incensed! "That's not the way I think!" He is scandalized that the entire group has come to a consensus about something ridiculously simple that happens every day without consulting him! And by "without consulting him," of course, I mean, "with his assent"! Clay levels with Alla: "You can't force him to do that. He can't do it." Alla -- doing that whole "prove to me you're not an asshole" vibe, is like, "He can't? He can't give four more ideas?" Markus leans back in relief that she's finally getting just how horrific her request is: "I come up with blockbuster ideas." He crosses his arms, like how she's a total idiot for not knowing that that's his sole purpose -- didn't she hear about "Smooth As Silk?" Or the time he ordered that blockbusting cashew chicken? -- and Alla counters that nobody has any idea of what he's talking about. Ever.

What response can Markus have, besides explaining a few things to Alla? Who can blame him for taking an incredibly condescending tone with his "You know something, Alla?" Or, indeed, for pronouncing it like "You Can Call Me Al"-la? Who can blame him -- now that Adam has whisked him out of the room before somebody starts swinging at his horrible ass -- for immediately interrupting his Project Manager to demand that Adam "listen to him," even though that's all anyone has been doing since Markus's days in Jams and the hat with the flaps on the back. He is so totally snooteriffic about "Listen to me, Adam, if you don't listen to me I can't tell you anything," which: zero sum, because if you do listen to him, same deal, and then he starts in with this "Let me tell you about my concept, okay," which is a brilliant way of demonstrating that he still doesn't get it. Any of it. Categorically. Adam loses no cool whatsoever, which is awesome, because he quickly gets Markus off that track: "You're brilliant [maybe] and creative [maybe] and I need you focused on the task [never gonna happen]." Markus is aghast: "But I completely am!" And he is. Completely focused on the task, I mean. It's just not the task Adam's talking about.

Adam tells us privately that Markus is way more enjoyable when you're not PM, because you can just sit back and watch him pants around all day. That's not such a terrible thing to say, although all in all, I prefer Josh's equal-opportunity frustration with Markus's ability to ruin everything, because it implies some kind of investment in the task. "When I'm Project Manager, unless you're adding value, we need to move on." But when I'm not Project Manager, hand me a mic.

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