I recently read an article called, “Just How Sick of Leadership Posts Are We?” It’s unabashed in its disdain for leadership posts that are trite at best, deliberately deceitful at worst. (That’s a paraphrase and an understatement.)

I have a similar bugaboo about articles that tell us how to do anything we should already know how to do as a matter of common sense, if not education and professionalism. I recall two, in particular. The first is “Nailing a Presentation in the First 60 Seconds“. It contained these nuggets:

  • Plan your opening in advance.
  • If at all possible, prepare the room in advance to your liking.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Be immediately interesting.
  • If you are terrified, use that terror to your advantage.

Who would show up clueless about an opening? Who wouldn’t case the room? Who would expect anything, other than the unexpected? Does anyone intend to be boring? And if the fear of public speaking is more prevalent than the fear of death, wouldn’t you get a grip of your knickers before walking out into the figurative spotlight?

The second article is “The 4 Sales Questions You Absolutely Must Ask“:

  1. How would your company go about buying this?
  2. Whose numbers determine the budget?
  3. Who else are you talking to?
  4. What happens if you don’t buy?

There are three young sisters in my neighborhood, all Girl Scouts, who come giggling up my driveway every year selling cookies. They’re the only three sales professionals I know who might not ask those four questions. And given the alacrity with which they compel me to part with my money, I know they’re pros.

But do the questions need to be pointed out? Is there a sales program, a corporate orientation, or a business school in the country that would let a person matriculate, let alone commence, without knowing enough to ask those questions — without having the personal volition and the intellectual curiosity to be hungry for their answers? If so, why would people to whom those questions wouldn’t occur choose careers in sales?

It’s as if dumbing-down is now an industry in which new experts tell us things we used to know. What happened? Did the collective IQ nosedive at the turn of the century? When did we develop an appetite for reductive how-to lists? Is there an epidemic of amnesia? Why are we so content with condescension? Do we really need the obvious pointed out to us?

I’m all set with lists. I have things to do. And I don’t need a list to tell me how to do them.

— Image by Nemo, courtesy of pixabay.com.