One in Three Has Got to Go

General Motors emerged from bankruptcy yesterday, but the road ahead is still paved with sacrifice and heartache. The ride would be less bumpy if GM cars weren't such bloated pieces of shit, but that's the subject on another rant. I'm still wrapping my head around the announcement by GM's Government-appointed CEO Ed Whitacre that 400 of the top 1,300 executives under his leadership will be asked to resign or retire.

If you work at a company with more than three people on the payroll, think about that.

How much more difficult (or easy) would your own job be if one-third of the surrounding workforce vanished tomorrow?

Would you be left standing in a stalled assembly line with no widget drone on your right flank?

Would there be three less windbags digging into the donuts at next Tuesday's nine-man blamestorm?

Who'd cover the plate, center field and third base on your department's company softball team?

In my own business, blogs, tweets and socnets have all but eliminated the positions of account executive, photographer, copywriter, graphic design and art director. Ten years ago I used to write copy for a dozen ads in a really busy month, and I did so with an army of better paid and equally busy graphic designers, photographers, models and prepress technicians at my disposal.
Today I'm personally responsible for bringing four-fifths of these skills to the drawing board for every project, and I do so 17 to 20 times a week. I can't cut myself into thirds to fit Mr. Whitacre's fat-trimming plan, but if I turned my back on these tasks for one-third of every workday, the brands and clients I cherish would wither up and blow away.

So, to be the good soldier in my one-man army, I've turned my back on other diversions…

No more custom motorcycle projects. Too time-consuming and expensive.

Cycling is a thing of the past. Five daily dog walks now suffice as my fitness regime.

Girlfriend? Only if you count the 55-year-old Korean lady at the Smiling Butterfly massage parlor.

I'm not the only sailor in this ship of fools. No one whose friendship, intellect or camaraderie I cherish and admire has told me technology has enhanced his quality of life. Rather, most of them liken 24/7 connectedness to a cross their job, their friends or their family has forced them to bear.

If the 900 top executives who remain on GM's payroll can multi-task like the best artists, writers, motorcycle builders, business partners and family men I admire, America's Car Company will be fine.

On the flip side, if Mr, Whitacre's minions drag their feet, hide their faces or shirk their responsibilities like so many corporate stiffs I know and loathe, The General—and America—is fucked.


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