The Tao of Brown-nosing: A central principle of business, maybe of life, is separating what might be called the "suck" from the "ask." That is, you want to butter up people who might do you favors in a time period as remote as possible from the time when you actually need the favor. It's not just that you shouldn't call only when you want something. Even when I've spent plenty of time being gratuitously complimentary to people, I've learned to never accidentally say something nice ("today's blog post was especially incisive ...") in the same email in which I ask them to do something for me. Simultaneous flattery actually hurts your cause. Better to just start schnorring.
This isn't a logical principle--you can be an odious Darwinian climber whether you follow the rule or not. Suck/ask separation simply enables more effective climbing. Why? I don't know. But something in the primitive human brain makes it more difficult to question the sincerity of flattery if there's no evident purpose to it at the time it's proffered. ...
Hollywood culture, which is all about pointlessly cultivating "relationships," long ago recognized this psychological reality. Which is why, when Barbra Streisand got a lot of publicity by cancelling her LAT subscription to protest the sacking of columnist Robert Scheer, my trackball was drawn Ouija-like to NEXIS, where, sure enough, a search of "byline (Scheer) and Barbra" produced a 1993 LAT interview of impressive sycophancy. Highlights (in addition to Scheer's softball questions):
Like the rabbinical student she played in "Yentl," which she also directed, Streisand is both enthusiastic and bookish in her fascination with issues, excitedly referring to one think-tank study or another. She claims no great expertise, but resents the notion that a women who has been successful in the world of entertainment is not entitled to speak out. ... [snip]
Few careers in Hollywood could match that of Streisand. With 57 gold and platinum albums and more than 60 million albums sold, she is the top-selling female artist in the world. Along the way, she became a producer and director, and won the 1968 Oscar for best actress in her debut film, "Funny Girl."
Streisand has endowed academic chairs covering women's studies at USC, cardiovascular research at UCLA and another at the Environmental Defense Fund. Her Streisand foundation grants around $1 million a year ...
Am I saying that Streisand came to Scheer's defense because Scheer, who long ago cast aside pointless populist inhibitions about befriending celebrities, defended her and sucked up over a decade earlier? No. ... I mean, yes! ... Or rather, who knows? That's the beauty of Suck/Ask Separation. ... (And in this case Scheer almost certainly didn't even have to ask.) ... 5:18 P.M. link
They laughed when blogger Sam Jaffe suggested, back on May 10, that GM would be sold to Toyota. They're not laughing anymore, I tell you! At least as long as Mr. Kerkorian** is around. ... I still don't understand why Toyota would want to buy into GM's UAW tsuris, especially since a purchase might give the union an opening to organize Toyota's current, non-union North American operations. ... [via Autoblog]
**--misspelling corrected. At least I didn't say "Kevorkian"--though he may be needed soon. 1:10 P.M.
David Smith, who's still doggingFannie Mae--the taxpayer-subsidized gravy train for Democratic pols (until Jim Johnson and Frank Raines went and spoiled it for everyone)-- interprets WaPo's recent ingenuous treatment of the agency. ... P.S.: It's admirable that WaPo appends a "full list of blogs" linking to its article. But why isn't Smith's blog included? 11:14 A.M.
Just Askin':Shouldn't Ayatollah Sistani be Time Magazine's Man of the Year? If we have any hope of achieving our goals in Iraq, it is thanks to him, no? ... Is antiwar sentiment in the Democratic primaries going to be so great that maybe Hillary would be well-advised to run for president as an independent? ... 3:32 A.M. link
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