12/21–The Interview: One-on-One with Kim Jong-un
8/3–VIDEO: Has time run out for Laskin?
3/16–VIDEO: G-rated list of 5 reasons to hire older workers
1/30–VIDEO: I'm Scheduled to Die August 1, 2014
11/19–VIDEO: In which Mr. Laskin takes on Mr. Lincoln
11/2–VIDEO: Rapp Story redux -- an explanation of sorts
10/21–VIDEO: The Rapp Story
9/12–VIDEO: The scariest profession in the world. Really?
7/4–VIDEO: Finally, a movie review without ever seeing the movie
4/18–VIDEO: The 7 words George Carlin would never have used
2/28–VIDEO: Sequester that credit card!
1/16–VIDEO: Don gets the word
10/31–The day social media died
8/6–VIDEO: The secret to viral videos
5/31–We all agree on this, right?
4/5–What's stealing? Really? Me? Shirley, you jest
1/19–VIDEO: The other Goldilocks story
12/11–VIDEO: Accomplishments? Or credentials?
11/7–VIDEO: A few minutes with Don Laskin on Andy Rooney
9/11–VIDEO: The hidden meaning of printer ink expiration dates
8/3–VIDEO: I am a Negro
5/24–VIDEO: It’s the end of the world as we know it
4/11–VIDEO: Return of the Avatar – with handy tips for finding a job
2/28–VIDEO: Laskin names names
2/10–VIDEO: Return of blower man
2/8–VIDEO: The threat of hippos -- and leaf blowers
1/11–VIDEO: Don as you've never seen him before
11/8–AUDIO: Hating the rich. Well, some of them, at least
10/17–VIDEO: He's not sleeping, he's making an important decision
10/1–What Amelia Earhart has to do with marketing management
8/25–AUDIO: The Mosque Ox
8/23–AUDIO: Why Meg Whitman needs to talk with Don en espanol
7/12–VIDEO: Don Laskin gets a spokes-thing
6/21–VIDEO: Why webinars are a waste of time
6/1–VIDEO: Has Don sold his soul to the Devil?
5/23–VIDEO: A message to, well, you know who you are
5/14–VIDEO: Twit, Tweet, Twitter?
5/5–Don unloads on Google
2/24–The sweatsuit answer to Kaiser, or Medicare Part The Deux
2/16–What's wrong with Kaiser?
12/4–What’s as rare as a Raiders touchdown? Laskin knows
10/19–Why Dave prefers vanilla
10/1–God's will -- and other reasons
8/17–AUDIO: Hierarchy of stupid
5/25–AUDIO: Some calm words about a world in PANIC!!
4/28–AUDIO: Why CEOs can ignore everything – except Facebook
4/6–With friends like these…
1/19–When perception is reality -- except when it isn't
12/9–AUDIO: Chased by the devil
10/29–AUDIO: Sine qua non a rant it would not be Don
10/20–AUDIO: Joe the writer, er, Don
10/2–AUDIO: Perp Walk Inc.
2/25–AUDIO: Why people put up with crummy jobs
2/10–AUDIO: Making clients money with advertising
1/2–Tiny weiners on toothpicks
12/19–AUDIO: Don improves with age, he says
12/6–AUDIO: Why telecommuting gardeners are needed
10/1–Don Laskin – Almost human?
7/8–Counting, if not connecting, the dots
5/3–Is your advertising stuck in a silo? So is Don
2/5–It's deja vu all over again for Don
9/10–Observations: Laskin faced end with courage
7/14–Observations Why Don Laskin’s ex-boss hiked up her skirt
6/16–Observations They're baaaack! And don't say you weren't warned
4/28–Be careful what you wish for
4/17–Did somebody just say something?
3/8–Laskin makes his first annual “Moron of the Month” Award*
2/15–Our man Laskin reports from a UFO
1/30–Laskin pioneers podcast idea
1/11–Veteran podcaster Don Laskin offers advice
1/3–The Logic of Illogic (Part 2)
11/15–An easy death
7/14–Making a Better Than Human Human
7/4–A tool of capitalism
6/26–Position Heal thyself. -- Plus: Useful information. For real. No kidding
6/25–Life is Like a box of chocolates with no “i” in team
5/15–A $1,000 fine and five days in jail
4/23–Is spending money on advertising a waste?
LETTERS FROM LASKIN
A tool of capitalism
by Don Laskin
July 4, 2005
You know Karl Marx had it about right. Groucho had it right too, but quoting him I come off sounding like some kind of subversive. Wait, you know who I’m talking about, right? On the off-chance you don’t, here’s a quick history lesson for people born after 2000 or who are not familiar with the Marks brothers. Yes, it was originally spelled Marks, but changed for easier pronunciation.
Groucho starred in Duck Soup, A Day at the Races, A Night at the Opera, You Bet Your Life, etc. Karl starred in The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature and his moving and unforgettable Das Kapital among others. Karl’s complete works are available in DVD in a director’s cut with English subtitles with very amusing outtakes according to critic Roger Epert (it was Epert, but changed for easier pronunciation).
I’m pretty sure Karl Marx did Das Kapital? But, it could’ve been Engels. Marx and Engels (if you’re really old, you might confuse the Engels (Frederick Engels) I’m talking about with Marty Engels, who I never understood why Shirley Jones married him in the first place anyway) were a huge hit in vaudeville. I’m not sure which one was the straight man, but I’m pretty certain you heard their routine, “Who’s on dialectic materialism?” It may be old, but it still knocks ‘em dead. That’s also available on CD in a boxed set. You might want to check out Amazon.
Anyway, Karl said if we continued the way we were going we’d end up capitalist tools. And, I’ve got to admit it. That’s pretty much where I am. Like an axe or a sledgehammer. Or maybe a nose-hair trimmer.
This isn’t about me. Well, okay, it is about me. But, it’s also about everybody else who used to think for a living.
Graphic artists: they used to think. Today, would a company hire an art director because he was thoughtful (creative) and could bring its products or services to life? Make them singularly saleable? Or would that company get…a tool?
Let’s imagine Leonardo Da Vinci looking for a job with a company or ad agency in today’s market. The interview might go something like this:
HR: Mr. Da Vinci, come in. May I get you a cup of coffee? Tea perhaps? Water?
HR: Sorry. Water, tea or coffee.
LDV: Grazie no.
HR: Before we get started, do you prefer Leonard, Len, Lenny…?
HR: Leonardo, I see you brought your portfolio. Wasn’t necessary. I can tell from your resume you’re highly creative. Not only that, but I actually use your Mona Lisa as wallpaper on my monitor.
HR: Do you get royalties for …
HR: Too bad. In any case, normally, I’d have to say you were overqualified for the position. But, Acme prides itself on our proactive hire-the-experienced, non-age discrimination policy.
HR: And the salary you’re looking for is reasonable for an individual with your experience.
LDV: Trenta lira?
HR: Fourteen Euros or thirteen dollars a week. That falls within the high end of the position’s specifications. But not a problem.
LDV: Buon. Buon.
HR: Just a few things. Do you have experience in Photoshop?
LDV: Acrobat? Si. Artista del trapeze!
HR: No. Acrobat, the software program.
LDV: Ah, no.
HR: What about Web design? Do you know Flash?
HR: Leonardo. I am sorry. But, it seems you don’t have the skill-set to be an artist…
LDV: Per favore, Signorina…
HR: I’m sorry Leonardo.
LDV: Caio, Signorina. Arrivederci.
HR: Wait, Leonardo. I just had a thought. You speak Italian, don’t you?
LDV: Si. Si.
HR: One of our most important customers is in Italy.
LDV: Si. Si.
HR: How would you feel about telesales? Of course it’s commission only….
As I said, I used to think for a living. Okay, my wife still calls me a big thinker. At least I think she’s saying thinker. Anyway, I have evolved from thinker to tool. Instead of positioning companies and products, creating messaging and coming up with clever concepts and copy for selling stuff, I get hired on as an editor. I get to use my skill-set with Word and words, making certain nobody’s dropped a participle or fractured a phrase or used it’s when its is the right it. I make sure things are clear and concise and readable and accurate. To be sure, editing is a noble calling, right up there with Spell Check.
I don’t know how Leonardo would feel about it if he were still feeling, but as for me, if I have to be a capitalist tool, make it a monkey wrench.
Don Laskin is a veteran of the advertising and public relations jungle. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or give him a call at (408) 406-3574.