Still Going Strong —DeWese
THIS COLUMN is the first in my 23rd year of occupying this space. Last month’s column was my 22nd anniversary. I forgot that important milestone and, now, Attila the Editor is pouting because I forgot the fancy diecut, frilly card, the 22 long stemmed roses and the wine—or does he like candy?
I’ve had two big boss editors. The first editor published my first column in November of 1984, announced she was pregnant and left to have the baby. I’ve had Attila (aka Mark Michelson) as my editor ever since then.
Attila decided the magazine needed some serious substantive columnists along side me, so over the 22 years there have been about 87 other columnists, some of whom wrote one column and left, and others who toiled for several years. Was it 87 or 45? Sometimes I get my lists confused.
Then Attila decided that I was too hard to manage and to chase down for my copy, so he hired a series of assistants that he titled variously “Managing Editor” or “Associate Special Editor” or “Crush and Brutalize Mañana Man Editor.” One was even titled “Attila Junior.”
Let me think for a minute—always painful for me. I’m trying to think of all the different “editors” that I have been forced to entrust with my Magnificent Mañana Manuscripts. That was alliteration and none of the young editors ever understood that art form. We had a U.S. vice president one time who was Greek and he used a lot of alliteration in his speeches. His name was Spiro Agnew and I’ve forgotten why, but he never got to finish his term.
Most of my Prose Police would call and whine, “Mañana person, this is your editor. Are you aware that the second sentence in paragraph three on page seven has three words sequentially beginning with the letter ‘m?’ ”
So as not to create a problem I’d suck up and say something like, “Oh, forgive me mighty editor. I’ll never alliterate again!” (Bet my present hatchet man misses that one. “Alliterate” is not a word.)
All those young journalism graduates were brought in to polish my gargantuan talent and teach me something.
Yep, yep, that should be all of them. I’ve finished the list. There have been 27 assistant editors over the years who have done all in their power to prevent me from getting the Pullet Surprise or the National Literary Award that I so richly deserve.
See, the magazine boss people worry I’ll write something that will get us sued. For example, in September I wrote about a blight on our great printing industry. I wrote about industry people who are indolent, lethargic, lazy, slothful SLACKERS! They take their paychecks and find multivariate ways to avoid doing any real work.
In that column I reported my groundbreaking research that proves our industry would be 78.67 percent more profitable if we could get rid of all the slackers—which includes company presidents, chief financial officers, sales managers, plant managers, customer service people, just a small handful of salespeople and so on.
Well, of course, my statistics got the industry experts all agitated and the first to call was Dr. Joe Webb. He proclaimed, “DeWese, you pathetic bumpkin. The industry would be 94.68 percent more profitable and would actually grow overall at 9.2698 percent if we could shed all of the non-working bums.”
I’m not about to argue with Dr. Webb, so I responded, “Okay! I’ll tell my readers that I made a slight mistake.”
Then, wouldn’t you know, Dick Gorelick landed long enough to call me. He’s on the road a lot visiting many printing companies where he imparts his marketing and management genius. He said, “Harris, you know you can’t go around spouting your invalid statistical drivel! Let me help you. Inform your readers that the real profit improvement would be 117.9827 percent if we could fire all of the weaseling non-workers.”
“Okay, Okay, Mr. Gorelick. I’ll tell my readers.”
Then the vice president and chief economist for NAPL, Andy Paparozzi, phoned me. “Mañana, you malevolent and misinformed misfit, I have run my model on the NAPL system and our industry would actually be 165.09854 percent more profitable if we could eliminate all of the cheaters.”
Well, there you have it. Apply any of these statistics to your companies and calculate how much more profitable you will become.
On the other hand, if you don’t own a company and you work in our industry, think about the time you may be wasting while on the job. If you’re smug, you may be saying, “They don’t pay me enough, so I can damn well sit here and play solitaire.
“The boss doesn’t like me and treats me like a dunce, so I’m gonna call all of my friends while I handicap Sunday’s NFL games. I’ve gotta have some fun at work. I call and call, and I can’t get any appointments, so I’ll relax a little and read the entire New York Times Bestseller list.
“My significant other wants more attention, so I’m gonna meet he/she for a long ‘lunch’ and just tell the boss I’ve got another doctor’s appointment for my ongoing back problem. My back is killing me, you know.”
Banning the BlackBerry
The most productive unproductive employees are the ones who can MULTITASK! Damn I hate that word. It’s actually multi-SLACKING. They are also the first to buy the new technology like Huckleberries or BlackBerries, or whatever they’re called. Then they get to slack for hours reading the BlackBerry manual and inputting a bunch of stuff they think will be “vital” to their professional lives.
These people can, for example, do order entry in one Window, play Internet poker in another, talk to friends on the phone, do their nails and chew gum—all simultaneously. These are the same people that arrive, shop and leave the grocery store talking on their cell phones. I see them; heads crooked cradling the cell phone, blocking the cereal aisle at the Acme. Then they even check out, all the while still on the phone. I hate cell phones; the irony is I probably pay for 50 or 60 of them in my various business ventures and family misadventures.
Cell phones and personal computers, especially e-mail and games, are two of the most important tools of the slackers.
Now it’s happened. I received dozens of e-mails from non-slackers, all praising me for taking another bold, courageous stand. But the slackers with nothing better to do have shown up to picket my office and my home. They are all outside on their BlackBerries, cell phones and laptops, traipsing around with their “Ban the Mañana Man” signs.
I had to rent six porta-potties to keep them out of my house. You see, slackers also spend a lot of time in the bathroom. They even had the audacity to come to the door and ask my wife, Anne—the source of most of my anxiety—for outdoor extension cords and power strips to charge their various batteries.
Well, I’m not givin’ up. I’m working hard and, in the words of all our campaigning politicians, I’m fighting for our industry.
I’m hoping to send all these slackers to France or at least banish them to some other industries. I’m French so that was not politically incorrect. Everybody knows about the French. I think France is already broken due to slackerdom.
The rest of you—bless your sweet, hardworking hearts—get out there and sell something! PI
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of Now Get Out There and Sell Something, available through NAPL or PIA/GATF. He is chairman and CEO at Compass Capital Partners and is an author of the annual “Compass Report,” the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 136 printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the printing industry. He specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies. He can be reached via e-mail at HDeWese@CompassCapLtd.com.