The Big Bing: Black Holes of Time Management, Gaseous Executive Bodies, Exploding Careers, and Other Theories on the Origins of the Business Universe

Overview

A corporate mole's-eye view of the society in which we all live and toil, creating one of the most entertaining, thought provoking, and just plain funny bodies of work in contemporary letters.

Stanley Bing knows whereof he speaks. He has lived the last two decades working inside a gigantic multinational corporation, kicking and screaming all the way up the ladder. He has seen it all — mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, the death of the three-martini lunch — and has himself been ...

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The Big Bing: Black Holes of Time Management, Gaseous Executive Bodies, Exploding Careers, and Other Theories on the Origins of the Business Universe

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Overview

A corporate mole's-eye view of the society in which we all live and toil, creating one of the most entertaining, thought provoking, and just plain funny bodies of work in contemporary letters.

Stanley Bing knows whereof he speaks. He has lived the last two decades working inside a gigantic multinational corporation, kicking and screaming all the way up the ladder. He has seen it all — mergers, acquisitions, layoffs, the death of the three-martini lunch — and has himself been painfully re-engineered a number of times. He has eaten and drunk way too much, stayed in hotels far too good for him, waited for limousines in the pouring rain, and enjoyed it all. Sort of. Most importantly, Bing has seen management at its best and worst, and has practiced both as he made the transition from an inexperienced player who hated pompous senior management to a polished strategist who kind of sees its point of view now and then.

In one essential volume, here is all you need to know to master your career, your life, and when necessary, other weaker life forms.

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Editorial Reviews

Don Imus
“The Big Bing may be the funniest business book ever written.”
Publishers Weekly
Twenty years of columns by business humorist Bing (Throwing the Elephant; What Would Machiavelli Do?) from Fortune and Esquire add up to a very funny look at the contemporary executive. The media exec/writer organizes his collected works into a surprisingly coherent whole, containing 11 thematic sections that range from "The Tao of How" (tips on giving good phone and taking lunch with distinction) to "Up and Out" (advice on surviving career death and getting paid to go away). Often, related columns present complete story cycles; Y2K comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb while Bing fires away. "Chainsaw" Al Dunlap chops up companies and then falls on his own blade. Quizzes punctuate the columns: the worst scores on "The Bing Ethics Test" mean "you're a scumball and should do very well." Whenever the outward hostility gets tiring, Bing happily skewers himself. He suffers emotional collapse when he misplaces his BlackBerry and his cell phone: "Uncontrollable drooling made it difficult for me to keep both hands on the wheel. I was incapable of thinking straight or even in a circular fashion." He is "consumed by rage" when his limo does not appear in good time. And yet, the reader can almost always relate, perhaps because underneath the surface, Bing seems so genuinely entertained by the business world. "The good news is this: there is no fate but what you make," he concludes. "So you keep looking, and trying to get it, and to get over on it. And I'll be there with you, as long as there's still a little fun left in it." (Nov.) Forecast: Bing has a solid audience among the readers of Fortune, and his previous business humor books sold pretty well. Add in the buzz from his work as a corporate communications exec at CBS, the fact that his first novel, Lloyd: What Happened, is under development for television and that his second novel is coming out just before this book from Bloomsbury; the result is happy sales. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Rules and tools for the business road, sold amusingly but on a depressing foundation of inanity, by novelist (You Look Nice Today, p. 869, etc.) and CBS executive Bing, a.k.a. Gil Schwartz in his everyday corporate pajamas. This collection of pieces, originally published in Fortune and Esquire, graze wittily upon the workplace's human dimensions, with all their annoying, grand, and bizarre displays. Bing is the kind of guy it would be fun to run into at the water fountain, always ready with a barbed insight. About toadyism: "After laughing at four or five unfunny jokes, you do feel kind of alienated from yourself. . . . But yearly raises and promotions compensate for the existential problem." On bullshit: "When people want bullshit, give it to them. . . . Conversely, even the highest quality bullshit won't do when the real goods are called for." Analysts are whores, consultants are after your job, wine aids the bonhomie factor, but don't take bonhomie too far: "Scream at people, if you can. At the same time you're asserting your human rights, strip others of theirs." Blame stress. There is enough fresh, unvarnished, cruel wisdom in these pages to set business students agog and trembling: the pecking order that never goes away ("The idea that a person can be my age and still get into trouble makes me feel a little sick"), the way toxic gases always rise to the top, the conceptual totems of status and pretension that melt into air. Do these pieces gel into a philosophy? Only if you can juggle a sense of humor, a sense of paranoia, and a sense of venality, all the while keeping your nose alert to the atmospheric conditions. But, sadly, maybe the best advice is to learn to pull your own leg.By the end, readers may feel they are suffocating in lint, but Bing would advise them to never let their lips—or their smile—drop below the ever-roiling surface.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060529574
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/3/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Stanley Bing is a columnist for Fortune magazine and the bestselling author of Crazy Bosses, What Would Machiavelli Do?, Throwing the Elephant, Sun Tzu Was a Sizzy, 100 Bullshit Jobs . . . And How to Get Them, and The Big Bing, as well as the novels Lloyd: What Happened and You Look Nice Today. By day he is an haute executive in a gigantic multinational corporation whose identity is one of the worst-kept secrets in business.

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First Chapter

The Big Bing
Black Holes of Time Management, Gaseous Executive Bodies, Exploding Careers , and Other Theories on the Origins of the Business Universe

Chapter One

The Tao of How:
Strategies,Tactics,
and Diversionary
Activities

You have to walk before you can run. Then later, when you're running, you need more sophisticated guidance, because doing a bunch of important things while running isn't all that easy.

In the beginning, as opposed to now, I really didn't know what I was doing. So thefirst things I looked at were overall strategies to very simple things that turned out to be a lot harder than they looked. Giving good phone. Taking lunch with distinction. Considering how to tackle the everyday tactical challenges that, taken together, could help define a career.

No issue was too small. Back at the start, or instance, before I got my wind going, I got tired in the afternoons and very often wanted a nap. It took me a while to work out a strategy to get one in without getting egregiously busted. Finally, I did it. First, I never took a nap through a phone call. If the phone rang on my desk, I woke and answered it. That was rule one. Second, I decided one day to sleep on the floor with my head against the door. That way if somebody came in without knocking, the door would hit me on the head and wake me. If asked, I could say I was doing my back exercises. Nobody wants to rag on a guy with a bad back. So that was my nap strategy. And it worked.

Other strategies followed about increasingly complex issues. It has turned out, in the end, that the need to think about the nuts and bolts never goes away. At every point of a working career, the issue of How must be managed -- and the first step in that battle is to view every problem as a puzzle that can be solved not with emotion, not with will or gumption or moxie, but with the proper strategy. This puts you, no matter how low-down you are on the food chain, on the same footing as the pasty executives who make nothing but decisions and money all day.

Protecting Your Turf

In the beginning, there was my turf. And I beheld it, and it was very tiny. There were more of us then, back when the corporation was young and centralized. The landscape swarmed with associates and directors and vice presidents so numerous that, when they massed, the hillside hummed for miles around. Each of us tended his proud little patch of duties, met with pals around the watering hole at sundown, and, for the most part, coveted not his neighbor's ass. Then the plague of merger fell upon our house, and many good folk were swept away. Vast tracts lay ripe for conquest, and we who survived took pretty much what we wanted. Before long I found myself steward of quite a nice chunk of real estate, with nary a shot fired in anger.

Then came the post-Armageddon wasteland that is now upon us. Where before there was me and Chuck and Ted and Fred and Phyllis and Janice and Lenny, now there's simply me and Lenny. And Lenny, I'm sorry to say, is a classic turf-fresser, slavering on mine while he gibbers possessively over his own. I come in some mornings to find him squatting with a disingenuous expression in what used to be my backyard. "You've soaked up a lot of turf that used to be mine, Len," I told him recently over a morning cup of coffee. "If you want war, it's okay by me, but I warn you -- I won't lose." Since then, Lenny and I have enjoyed a nice sense of collegiality. We even have a chat once every couple of days about what we're up to, more or less. But I'm not fooled. Hitler didn't stop at Prague when the tasty little Balkans lay at his feet, and Lenny won't either.

Turf is the work that no one but you should be doing. But it's more. It's the proprietary relationships you have with people -- the human glue that holds your career together. Like all great things in life, it's most important to those who don't get much. "If you're secure in your job, and you have a well-defined position with a lot of responsibility, turf doesn't become that big an issue," says my friend Steve, senior manager at a publishing company. Good attitude, when all that's challenged is your right to fund an opinion survey or something. But there are times when something more fundamental is threatened. Keep the following in mind:

Try not to act like a thumb-sucking worm. A lot of very uptight people are drawn to the world of business, who knows why. But few are as minimal as those who scrab around clutching worthless sod to their bosoms. I've seen guys haggle over who has the duty, nay, the honor, of ordering the chairman's muffin. "Real turf is something you have an emotional investment in," says a young powermeister I know, "that, if you lost it, would take away a real part of you." So take what you need and leave the rest.

The turf you make is equal to the bows you take. Recognition begets turf. When I was a new recruit, I was given the chore of assembling the department's monthly reports to the chairman. This gently bubbling pot of self-aggrandizement was routinely signed by my erstwhile vice president. As a neophyte in the business world, it never occurred to me that my work should be attributed to someone else. It was three months before Chuck, in a spasm of assiduity, perused my output and noticed my name, not his, affixed to the title page. By then it was impossible for him to re-create the fiction that he was solely responsible. Thus did I attain my first visible piece of soil ...

The Big Bing
Black Holes of Time Management, Gaseous Executive Bodies, Exploding Careers , and Other Theories on the Origins of the Business Universe
. Copyright © by Stanley Bing. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2007

    Some Interesting Stories

    Stanley Bing does have some insight into the Business world, but it may not be typical of others based on his background and specific career path. I would be more interested in some of his other titles, but purely for entertainment purposes.

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