That’s not a rabbit hole, it’s your navel

I adore and exalt Webstock and the Webstock organizers. If I were a girl conference, and they were a boy conference, I would marry them.

Just today I clicked through the Webstock site to see if my talk video was up yet — because I am vain — and found this little gem of a quote from an article by the NZ Herald:

I hope they were listening, as my experience of management in New Zealand is overwhelmingly negative – shoddy or non-existant reporting structures, no or inconsistent analysis of data, decisions made on emotion rather than logic .. I could go on.

Dear NZ Herald reporter: Back away from the typewriter. You are not Alice. That is not a rabbit hole. That is your own linty navel you are gazing deeply into.

shoddy or non-existant reporting structures, no or inconsistent analysis of data, decisions made on emotion rather than logic

My friends, most of you are not from NZ. And yet, somehow, I think this string of adjectives reminds you of your experience of management.


This reporter believes a little too much in context. He falls prey to a classical failure of logic. These experiences happened to him in New Zealand, so of course it must be specific to New Zealand.

We know differently. Managers in every country of the globe are overwhelmingly incompetent.

People, in every country of the globe, are overwhelmingly incompetent.

Them’s the facts of life. If they weren’t, well, I wouldn’t be linking you to this very popular Wikipedia article on Sturgeon’s Law, now would I?

New Zealand reporters are overwhelmingly prone to navel-gazing

…of course, they’re not. Not any more than reporters anywhere else, at least.

Let’s try another quote, from another newspaper. Does this sound familiar to you, maybe?

[Only] 1 out of 10 business people get it. These are the chaps who contact you, get you in for a meeting and then award you the deal there and then. These are the people who understand entrepreuenrs — they’re the ones who will actually add a zero on to your cheap-as-chips pricing, commenting, “I actually need you to stay in business, ok? And we can afford this. We need good service.”

Well, unless you’re English, you have no right to that feeling of familiarity. Or so thinks the author of the piece, who, naturally, goes on to say how much better America is, and that only jolly old England has these issues with entrepreneurialism (and jealousy of rich people).

Bull and, if you forgive me the indulgence, shit.

If 1 out of 10 business people in the US got it, they’d have a helluva lot better economy on our hands. (And by “they” I mean “and me, before I left the country,” because it’s not my economy any more. But I still get all teary about it.)

As someone who used to interact with American business people multiples times a day, every day, I can tell you I would have jumped for joy for a 10% having-sense ratio.

OK, Amy, I hear you saying. You can stop frothing at the mouth now. We get it: reporters are stupid, blinded by their own comfortable bubble. They think they, or at least their country, is special, and it’s not. Plus they failed Logic 101. Is there another point here?

I didn’t get that job because he was sexist / My talk was rejected because they don’t care about web standards / Customers don’t buy from me because they’re cheap bastards and the internet has taught them that everything is free

Oh, really?



  1. andy says:

    Inspired by a writer way funnier than I am (@lindsayism, i think, maybe @videogum?), my friends’ and I have a current favorite deductive fallacy to blame creative failure on: “In this economy…”

    “In this economy… i’m not surprised my vegan math rock mp3 sharing site failed.”

    “In this economy… I don’t think people were ready for my monotone KDE Lady Gaga icon set sold exclusively on”

  2. Neil Murphy says:

    Your link to Sturgeon’s law is actually to an article about Sturgeon fish.

    This is the link to Sturgeon’s law.'s_Law

    Or was that intended as humour and I missed it?

  3. blairski says:

    I was laughing out loud while reading this. I like your writing style Amy!

    I am from NZ but have lived in the UK for the past 11 years. I have only had 1 manager in my working life that I believed to be truely great and not at all incompetent, and that was when I was living in NZ. Of course that doesn’t mean all bosses in NZ are great. I have experienced bad and incompetent bosses in 3 countries. Like you say, managers in every country are incompetent.

    I think that one of the problems is that people become managers not because they are good at managing people (or things) or leadership, but because they have been at a company for a long enough time, or are good at their job in their industry. But when they become a manager, their job becomes on of managing and leading, which is a totally different ball game to what they were doing before.

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