I have always admired reading Groucho Marx whenever someone sent me an isolated quote of his. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I decided to do a bit of background reading on his witty one-liners. On the other side, I have always bemoaned the lack of humor in the corporate world. I think the cabin and cubicle guys compete with politicians and lawyers in the race to take themselves a tad too seriously. All of them believe they are going to last forever, and if this earth is going around the sun and the seasons are changing, then a large part of the credit for it must go to them. They must visit the graveyards – the damn place is filled with people who thought the same.
Groucho somehow knew this lot long before the cubicles got filled with the self-obsessed. I think I shall use the following quote of his as an opener. ‘’I worked my way up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty’’. This sums up quite well the bay-to-cubicle-to-cabin-to-wherever journey. As my boss of one time use to say – ‘’He has stopped contributing to us; we have decided to promote him’’.
Meetings are a great invention. Whoever invented them must have been a genius. Actually, it is the right word – people definitely meet; some might argue, they only meet! Groucho commented ‘’Before I speak I have something important to say’’.
Every day we meet people we would love to forget. Thank God there is some benefit of politeness that our schools taught us or there would be more dead people than we have in Syria today. Groucho the philosopher knew it half a century ago – ‘’I never forget a face but in your case I will be glad to make an exception’’. He also said – ‘’Next time I see you, remind me not to talk to you’’.
The number of hours we put at work is a subject of intense debate. It is considered to be a surrogate of how much you contribute. Groucho had remarked ‘’No man goes before his time – unless the boss leaves early’’.
Management is getting things done. Principles behind action and consistency behind them and other sundry constraints must not get in the way. There is one for every occasion. Groucho was proud to have said ‘’These are my principles and if you don’t like them, I have others’’.
There are times at workplace when the sheer inanity and banality can make a rock wince. Thank God they have bars. When someone at work says, Gosh, I need a drink, he is indicating that he is on medication and it’s time for the next dose. Groucho supports when he says, ‘’I am not feeling well, I need a doctor immediately. Ring the nearest golf course’’.
The boss is all – a verb, an adjective and a noun. Disagreement with the boss is a cul-de-sac; a Hobson’s choice. You might hear Groucho speaking during such an interaction - ‘’who are going to believe – Me or your own eyes’’.
Finally, I cannot slot this last one by Groucho, so I leave it your discretion – ‘’Please accept my resignation; I cannot belong to any organization that has me as a member’’.