Sitting through a State of the Company address when you work for a successful corporation can be interesting and off-putting at the same time. Just recently I was privy to one of these gatherings. And over the span of four hours, my demeanor gradually transitioned from bored to appalled.
As most CEOs like to start out, this particular head honcho decided to crack a few jokes. None were interesting enough to remember, but all of his cronies laughed, as I am sure they were instructed to. Finances, product changes, future plans and the history of the company were all covered in great length, hence the four hours. But my eyes were prompted to grow wide in shock when a few points were hit:
Shock Point #1: One of the CEO’s right-hand men proclaimed that the company is planning on changing the cultural landscape of Europe and steamrolling across the continent. This comment struck a chord in my brain and I was reminded of a German-style military tactic called the Blitzkrieg. I turned to a co-worker on my right and inquired, “what is this the Third Reich?” He looked back at me with the same wide-eyed expression I adorned and said, “I was just about to say the same thing.”
Shock Point #2: After finishing up the segment on finances, Mr. CEO advanced the computer to the next slide. Everyone in the audience looked at the image in a puzzled manner. Then the fearless leader explained. “This is a picture taken with a high-powered microscope. It is of a cancer cell attacking a healthy cell.” I immediately started to brainstorm to try and guess where he could be going with this. But the answer came soon enough when the next slide read “morals issues.” The CEO went on the describe employees with negative attitudes about the working conditions as cancer cells that live off of spreading their “darkness” to the healthy cells around them. He then showed a picture of white blood cells attacking a cancer cell. “White blood cells kill cancer cells,” said Mr. CEO. He then went on to encourage each employee to be positive white blood cells.
After that section of the address, I will now be wondering if I am supposed to murder anyone in the office with a negative attitude. Just one more thing to add to the grueling and long list of job expectations. Oh wait, does a comment like that warrant suicide for the sake of killing the cancer?
Shock Point #3: The final shocking point came with another visual. A map of Europe was displayed with names of companies that do similar business. The CEO spoke about how his plans are to grow the company so that it infiltrates Europe and Asia by buying up as many companies as possible. He then moved to the next slide and all of the companies on the map morphed together to create a giant Voltronesque logo of his brainchild company. At this point my jaw dropped as I witnessed what looked like a nuclear holocaust sweeping the continent. All had been destroyed, except for this one company, an entity that seemed to overtake all of the lesser ones with cancerous alacrity. The meeting ended with applause, and dazed employees marched out of the building to go back to their cubicles. Production started back up, all of the cogs in the machine were back in motion. And as the workers poured sweat into their computers and phones, Mr. CEO’s dreams of world domination started to inch closer to reality.