The lies pleasant people peddle

Refused to break wind question

If you’re (bizarrely) thinking about taking career advice from a source outside Benign to Five, I have some advice for you: beware of pleasant people. Having been a pleasant person once – before I became a vicious curmudgeon and a hateful bigot, that is – I know pleasant people, and pleasant people say things like “it was meant to be” and “there are no stupid questions”.

Now I don’t go in for this “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” malarkey. But I know when I hear nonsense, and those two particular assertions, my dear Haughtologists, are just that. In fact, I would go a step further and say they are outright lies. In fact, I would go a step further again and say it in capitals: THEY ARE OUTRIGHT LIES.

(Now I feel as if I might have gone too far. I wish I knew how to delete stuff on this thing.)

“It was meant to be” implies that everything is predetermined, including the time I walked into the storeroom at Burwood Smorgy’s and found the manager wearing only a felt sock puppet and dancing a passionate samba with a 45 kilogram bag of desiree potatoes. If this was written into fate at the beginning of time, then the Predeterminer must have one hell of an imagination, making banal cruelties like famine and brain cancer outrageously mean-spirited and the whole idea of predetermination ludicrous. (more…)

Read More

The Haught guide to meetings

Larry's head

People often say to me ‘Jonathan, you’re the preeminent career agony aunt in the world today – when do I know that I’m going to too many meetings at work?’

I tell them a little story.

A few years ago I worked at a company whose senior management team decided it wasn’t ‘good at process’.

It was an abrupt, somewhat bewildering realisation, like a cat suddenly deciding it needs to be halfway up a tree. The staff all nodded and hmmed in the affirmative, but really they just wanted to placate those who had formed this opinion, horrified by their dilated pupils and shockingly enlarged tails. (more…)

Read More

Chucking a spickie

Spickie image

It was 8.05pm on Sunday the 30th of March 2014. I had just returned home after witnessing an absolute debacle. My face was red, I was angry, irrational, incapable of looking at things with perspective or anything approaching common sense. As I wrote the words below, I knew exactly how it felt to be Alan Jones.

If Equanimity were a town, I’d be a thousand miles away from it. Probably in another town called Agitation, sucking on my second bottle of tequila like a newborn lamb, only stopping to fire my six gun at the chandelier. But I don’t want you to let my state of mind make you think what I’m about to say is anything other than my usual, unfailingly pristine career advice. (more…)

Read More

Life coaches

Life coach mirror

“Hello. I’m Pru and I’m a life coach.”

The moment you hear these words and don’t feel the urgent need to throw a hard fruit (a quince or a Packham pear) into Pru’s outer gullet is the moment that you need to reevaluate your entire life.

I’ve done a little irony thing there for the sake of mirth-making, but seriously, if this moment ever arrives, DO NOT employ Pru to help you become the healthy fruit-launching (Haught-reading) cynic you once were. (more…)

Read More

The Haught guide to creating your own Wikipedia entry

392px-Wikipedia-logo-en-big

I worry about people who ask “Have you ever Googled your own name?”

What a preposterous question. Of course you have. Of course I have. Of course they have. Of course everyone with a computer and an internet connection has.

And employers are doing the same thing – Googling your name after shortlisting you for a job you’ve applied for. How do we take advantage of this knowledge?

Writing your own Wikipedia entry is unethical, inappropriate, obnoxious and against Wikipedia guidelines. Here’s how you do it. (more…)

Read More

The Haught guide to first impressions

Overdressed

First impressions. In a perfect world there’d be no such thing and we could all be judged on a well-considered, thoroughly-in-context third or fourth impression. But as anyone who’s ever crossed the road to avoid a menacing 18th century pirate only to realise it’s a perfectly genial hipster with nautical tattoos, a voluminous beard, a cutlass, a tricorne hat with a massive feather and a king parrot on her shoulder knows: the world isn’t perfect. (more…)

Read More

The Voice: a conversation

A seal
By Liam Quinn from Canada, via Wikimedia Commons

Friend: “You should write a Benign to Five column about The Voice.”

Me: “What’s The Voice?”

“Are you jok- ? Oh, you’re not. It’s a reality singing show. On Channel 9.”

New Faces?”

“What? New Faces hasn’t been on since 1985.”

“But like New Faces?”

“No! Nothing like New Faces! Not at all. Not really. Well… a little bit, I suppose. No! Not New Faces.”

“But my columns are about work and toilets and cassowaries and stuff.”

“What if… you… wrote about what would happen if job interviews took the format of The Voice.”

“YES! Brilliant! Bert Newton would be one of your interviewers – it’s gold!”

“IT’S NOT NEW FACES! IT’S THE VOICE!”

“OK. OK. Who’re the judges then?”

“There’s four. Um… Delta Goodrem…”

“The piano one.”

“Uh – yeah. And then there’s… uh… Seal.”

“A seal? One of the judges is a marine mammal? I’m definitely watching the show now. Why haven’t you told me about this show before?” (more…)

Read More

My email to The Goodnight Society

goodnight card

For Mother’s Day I decided to get my wife some pyjamas. I did my online research, found a company by the name of The Goodnight Society and, with plenty of time to spare before the 1oth of May, I bought some sleepwear.

It never arrived.

Australia Post told me they’d delivered it weeks before Mother’s Day so I got in contact with The Goodnight Society by email. A woman by the name of Kathryn Tyrrell, whom I later found out is the founder of the company, confirmed that they had delivered the clothes to the correct address shortly after I’d ordered them.

Minutes later she followed up with this:

Hi again!

I’m worried about leaving you in the lurch for Mother’s Day if the parcel has gone missing! Do you want me to get another set in tonight’s express post while we see if the other one can be tracked down?

Cheers

What a lovely offer, I thought. And how entirely unfair that a small business should have to make up for the mistakes of another, much larger organisation. So I thanked Kathryn, declined and pursued Australia Post. (more…)

Read More

ParentHaught: how to introduce your baby to the office

Crispy-skinned stork
Stork goes exceptionally well with coriander.

Here’s the ParentHaught story so far:

I’m a father. A year ago, to this day, the stork came. It was 2.30pm on a Sunday. That evening we were cuddling a snowy-haired girl and eating stork for dinner. Well, you know how bad hospital food is.

Anyway, barely a month had passed before colleagues began the inevitable bring-her-into-work campaign.

Although these are dressed up as cuddle-fests, they’re one-baby beauty contests plain and simple.  (Hey, I don’t invent society’s perverse and superficial games; I just give you very smart tips on how to make them work in your favour.) (more…)

Read More