Ask Dr. Business

September 17, 1997|By Dick George

Q.DR. BUSINESS, I'm graduating from college soon and I'm really scared.

Dr. B: You should be. Soon you'll be entering a dark period in your life called ''reality.''

Q: How long does it last?

Dr. B: Only until you die.

Q: Wasn't college real?

Dr. B: Yes, but not for you. Let's get this straight. Writing checks for amounts that require commas and sending off to college treasurer, real. Weekends that start Wednesday night, unreal. Sleeping late, unreal. Summers off, unreal. Whining about free food you don't even have to cook, unreal.

Which reminds me, I think young people today put way too much emphasis on being able to identify what it is they're eating. Maybe there's a reason they don't want you to know what it is. Maybe they don't give you the truth because they don't think you can handle it. Did you ever think of that?

Q: No.

Dr. B: Of course not.

Q: I'm worried about getting a job.

Dr. B: Hmm. Let me ask you a few questions. Do you want to avoid real work and make, like, millions of dollars in a short period of time?

Q: Well, sure. That would be nice.

Dr. B: Can you say ''I have a vision. I can turn this company around''?

Q: I guess.

Dr. B: No, no, youthful aspirant. With feeling! Imagine a roomful of corporate board members. You stride forcefully before them, stand beneath the portrait of the company founder, look into their eyes and say . . . Go ahead, say it.

Q: ''I have a vision. I can turn this company around.''

Dr. B: Perfect. You'll never have to enter the Real World. You can be a turnaround specialist.

Q: A what?

Dr. B: A company is in trouble, losing money by the boatload. They hire a turnaround specialist to get them back on track.

Q: I don't know anything about that!

Dr. B: That's a self-defeating attitude, my knowledge-hungry friend. Stress your strengths. You have confidence, you have vision, you can turn this company around.

Q: But I can't. I'll fall flat on my face.

Food you can recognize

Dr. B: Yeah, but they pay you anyway. In fact, they pay you more. Not only will you be able to eat food you recognize, you'll be able to eat it in countries you can't pronounce.

Q: But I don't know the first thing about business.

Dr. B: You bring a fresh perspective from outside the industry. They like that.

Q: But what if I don't turn the company around?

Dr. B: Well, they don't exactly put you on the rack and tear you limb from limb, if that's what you're thinking. What happens is, they get tough and they say, ''You're fired. We're so mad at you, not only are we firing you, we're going to force you to take these millions of dollars, put them in your pocket and not come to work anymore. So take that, Mr. Smarty Pants. And if you screw up again, we're going to give you more millions, so you better watch it.''

Take it from Dr. Business, getting fired for a turnaround specialist is like hitting the Lotto for anyone else.

Q: That reminds me of my college roommate. His parents told him if he didn't get his grades up, he couldn't get the leather interior on the next car they bought him.

Dr. B: See? You're already familiar with the basic principles here.

Q: Does this kind of thing actually happen?

Dr. B: Yes, young mogul. Not long ago they hired a turnaround guy at Apple Computer, paid him $3 million a year. Seventeen months later, the company was losing even more money, so they fired him and gave him $7 million. Now they're looking for a new turnaround specialist. I don't know you very well, but I'll bet you can lose at least as much money as this last guy. Maybe more. Most of today's college grads have spent at least four or five years squandering their parents' money. This is the same gig; you just have to blow somebody else's dough in larger amounts.

Q: Maybe reality won't be so bad after all.

Dr. B: Not if you can say ''I have a vision. I can turn this company around.'' Go ahead, say it. In the mirror. With conviction.

Dick George tries not to lose his money in Baldwin.

Pub Date: 9/18/97

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