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Bon Journal

Intelligence over wisdom

In London, the Tower Hotel caters to three classes of guests: the rich, the very rich, and the filty rich.

At this company, there are three outcomes to the performance appraisals: excellent, very good, and "get the hell out of here."

In the commercial track, you can enter right after college as an analyst or right after business school as an associate. Young, bright, and beautiful college graduates can soar to the top with their ambition and earnestness. They are appraised twice a year. The benchmark is two years as an analyst and then either get promoted to an associate or leave to do your MBA. For an associate, the benchmark is also two years. If you become a manager before the two years, you're very good.

Those that don't make the cut can stay on as long as they don't get fired. But because A-type personalities are so ambitious, they would probably resign out of pride.

Another career track is tread by the so-called professionals. These are the accountants, lawyers, research scientists, engineers, and other professions. They "support" the commercial division.

So what happens when these bright young things get promoted? They may end up managing the older professionals who have more experience. But the bright young commercialites bring in the money. Their ambition exceeds their intelligence.

Without the wisdom of experience, an ambitious person no matter how intelligent will not ask questions to reveal his lack of knowledge or understanding. It takes a brave person to ask an obvious question without an obvious answer. For in a meeting attended by many young, bright, beautiful, and ambitious commercialites, it's very intimidating to risk asking a question that may reveal their ignorance.

It's less intimidating to pretend either that you understand it or that it doesn't matter. And that's one way things became more complicated over time.

11 December 2001 Tuesday

part one
Dream job come true
part two
A generous beginning
part three
Witness to departures
part four
Make the deal, restructure later
part five
Mark your salary to the market
part six
First mover advantage
part seven
Believe in the dream
part eight
Intelligence over wisdom
part nine
Into the lioness' den
part ten
Options translated
part eleven
Forward learning curve
part twelve
Land of the big egos
part thirteen
Click with the clique
part fourteen