Subjects, verbs, and objects…

I wouldn’t know Richard Anderson, chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines, if I crossed paths with him on one of his airborne cattle cars, where he likely wouldn’t be caught dead anyhow, since he probably has a plush corporate jet with every imaginable amenity at his disposal, and I am not a fan of his airline, even less so since it gobbled up Northworst, err, Northwest Airlines (which I have most often flown out of Memphis), in the process making Northworst worser, if that’s possible, which it probably is, but mercifully, thanks to the hotshot bankers and brokers running the economy into the ground, I don’t have to fly much any more anyhow, so nyahh, nyahh.

Come to think of it, I am not a fan of almost any U.S. airline you can name, since they stopped any semblance of customer service and elevated gouging to an art form ($15 to check a bag? $5 for a leaden sandwich?, etc).

Probably two of the greatest disservices to the American public were deregulating the airlines and the telephone companies. In both instances, the result has been a long, slow return to monopolies, which deregulation was supposed to eliminate. And in both instances, customer service has become a joke.

But I digress.

Mr. Anderson has earned at least a few points with me for an interview in the New York Times by Adam Bryant, in which he expounds on qualities of leadership and what he looks for in evaluating job candidates. I quote:

“You’re looking for a really strong set of values. You’re looking for a really good work ethic. Really good communication skills. More and more, the ability to write well and speak well is important [emphasis mine] … Writing is not something that is taught as strongly as it should be in the educational curriculum … It’s not just enough to be able to do a nice PowerPoint presentation …”

He goes on: “People have to be able to handle the written and spoken word … I don’t think PowerPoint helps people think as clearly as they should, because you don’t have to put a complete thought in place — you can just put a phrase with a bullet in front of it. And it doesn’t have a subject, a verb, and an object, so you aren’t expressing complete thoughts … When you write … you need to express yourself very clearly, so people understand …”

Right on, dude! Amen, amen!

In an earlier era, I would go to meetings and the speakers would all be clustered down at the front with their slide carousels, trying to get the projector to work. Now, they’re all clustered down front with their laptops, trying to get PowerPoint to run.

To quote some media wag, whose name was long ago lost to me, “I’d rather have my guts scraped out with a dull kitchen spoon than to sit through another PowerPoint presentation.”

Microsoft has made zillions of dollars with its PowerPoint software, which gives anybody the ability to assemble a seemingly endless aggregation of mind-numbing slides, often incoherent bullet points, superimposed on backgrounds of garish colors, stripes, circles, triangles, trapezoids, starbursts, and every other geometric shape known to man, in the most ungodly agglomeration of weird type fonts imaginable.

One wants, after about the first three minutes, to run screaming from the room.

It’s almost as bad as flying on Delta Air Lines.

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