7 Things This CEO Hates About Business


HarvardBusiness.org 7 Things This CEO Hates About Business I have had the luxury of working in a number of different capacities – as an academic, scientist, businessman, and as an entrepreneur. As with most things, there is good and bad to every career. Truth is, being involved in business is incredibly rewarding, from a financial, social, and educational basis, just to start. But there are a few things that are particularly frustrating when it comes to business. Here are mine, in no particular order:
 1. Ego. Why can’t people keep their egos in check? I used to think it was a bad case of Right Guard but I swear I can smell the bravado when I walk into certain business meetings. Confidence is one thing, but the business world has far too much arrogance batting about.
 2. Money. If it weren’t for all the money involved, business would be a lot more fun! Making money should be secondary. Money comes when you stop thinking about creating wealth and start thinking about creating value. We all joked when money was “secondary” during the dot-com days…then cringed during the dot-com bust. But the truth is, most of those companies that put money second did better than the ones who focused first on making money. Just compare Google, Amazon, and eBay to Lehman, Citi, and Wachovia.
 3. Travel. There must be a better way to do business. I travel constantly and while I hate it, I can’t avoid it. The phone and email are too aloof; video conferencing is too impersonal; and it is just too important to look someone in the eyes and build a real relationship. (Maybe Cisco will send me their new Telepresence conference system and change my mind…)
 4. Business Speak. Synergy, sell side, bandwidth, enterprise solutions, ear-to-ear, eye-to-eye, deliverable, ETA, thinking-outside-the-box, facilitate, paradigm, SWOT…need I say more?
 5. Meetings. Or shall I say “Meetingitis” (this use of Business-speak is warranted). Most business people spend half their lives in meetings. Why?
 6. Business Books. To be fair, not all business books are bad. But boy do most of them stink. The average business book is devoid of anything remotely worthwhile. Even the best business books typically have one great idea – which can be gleaned from the cover and jacket – and nothing else but a barrage of examples, case studies, and verbiage between the covers. It is rare to find an author like The New Yorker’s Malcolm Gladwell or Steven Johnson who can take a business or technology subject and weave it into a provocative story that makes reading the real joy it should be. 7. Time. I wish we eliminated the concept of an 8-hour workday. However impractical, it would do a number of things. First, it would force managers to get more creative about engaging their staff. Second, it would force employees to focus on enjoying the time they spend at work. I can’t imagine the number of hours that I work each week but it doesn’t feel like work. If things aren’t going well, I go home. And I tell my team to do the same. Sick, tired, bored…just go home. Come back when you are ready to enjoy work and if you don’t, quit – life is too short and work really is fun.
 What do you think? What annoys you most about the business world?
 Jeffrey M. Stibel is an entrepreneur and brain scientist. He studied business and brain science at MIT Sloan and Brown University, where he was a brain and behavior fellow. Stibel has authored numerous academic and business articles on a variety of subjects and is the named inventor on the US patent for search engine interfaces. He is currently President of Web.com (NASDAQ: WWWW) and serves on academic Boards for Tufts and Brown University, as well as the Board of Directors for a number of public and private companies.
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