I guess I'm the person I warned myself against. I now see the reason for sensible head-count cuts at budget time. I surprise myself. I don't think I've lost my outrage at people who are cruel to other people, and people who misunderstand and bemoan my books and say the world is this way and can't people be nicer. But what I'm saying is, look at the world as it exists. Don't accept other people saying that it's wrong for you to be as nasty and selfish as they are. Do I like it? No. So the work I do today is still true to that same spirit. But I think I'd give myself a royal pain in the neck. I think the younger me would go, "Hey, lighten up, bud."
What would Bing say about your office?
He would love my office. First of all, I have the thing that all great offices have to have, which the mayor of New York City denies his workers - a door. He's Mr. Cubicle. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have a door. How do you take a nap? About a year ago, I was having a midlife crisis and I decided I wanted my office to be bigger. So I just made it bigger. And now they call it the Bing Wing. I've always been a big fan of large offices, especially in the corner. You know from reading my column that I believe in form over substance every time. I'm all for people appearing better than they really are, and my office is a testament to that. I mean, if Genghis Khan got this office, he would go, "This is a nice office. "People who have power have the trappings of power, and very often the trappings are more important than the power. You gotta walk the walk.
I think it's important to the collective readership's fantasy that Bing have a sweet office.
If I don't have a good office, then what's it all about? I think it's a public service that I have such a nice office. I'm willing to sacrifice … nothing actually. I'd rather have a teeny-tiny office in the corner with the cleaning supplies if it had a door than the biggest cubicle in the world.
In a recent column you reminisced about the Japanese Q theory that took over in the '80s, and your current book seeks to debunk Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist and inspiration for many a management book. Any new trend or something on the horizon you'd like to mock?
I think we’re in some kind of between time for fads and popular theories. The old stuff is still circulating, but people are aware that it’s dead. Sort of like rock-and-roll before the Beatles. When there’s a paradigm shift, you never really know what’s going to be the next thing. I think the trends of organizational graying out of people, which quality did, and brainwashing people and all of those things that kind of made the ’80s and ’90s so weird are over. I think there’s more of a tolerance for idiosyncrasy and for creativity. And younger people — even though they’re annoyingly ironic and full of themselves and think they should be vice presidents the moment they walk into the place — contribute an energy and a not caring about all this that’s refreshing to people. And these young people coming in and wanting to have some fun coincides with all the baby boomers turning 50 who want to have fun.
So there’s a synergy.
Yes, between the younger people, who are shallow and fatuous and want to have fun, and their elders, who are feeling exactly the same way.
And yet through all of this, despite the fact that Bing has become the person he began his career eviscerating in print, he still retains his Bingness.
Yes. I still get mad at the same things. I just have a better expense account. And that’s what I hope for your readers. Peace, health, and a better expense account for all.