Even the fast are slow these days —
Or slowish, by which we mean malaise
Has befallen even the zippiest leaders.
Exclamation-and-acronym-loving Tom Peters
Says, "Forget the business of starting a movement."
This week, he's promoting just minor improvement:
Rearrange your desk, defrag your disk drive,
Anything to stem the Nasdaq tide.
Is this economic slowdown merely a blip
That has managed to affect even the hip
Shawn Fanning, who's now pale and contrite,
As well as the options of swooshish Phil Knight?
Are things getting worse? Will things get much bleaker?
We've sent in an email to Mary Meeker.
No, we're not asking paranoid Andy Grove.
No, we're not seeking advice from Karl Rove.
The economy's sluggish; it could use some caffeining.
Let's call Howard Schultz; order Starbucks intravening.
Or better yet! A triple espresso venti!
Then pick up the phone:
"Paging Mr. Jack Valenti."
We know things are bad — no shit, man.
Still we admire that brilliant Meg Whitman.
All right already, stop the complaining;
We think it's time for vocational training.
Professor Porter, will this be on the exam?
How to work a room like the lovely Pam
Alexander, inestimable queen of PR.
And how many habits do successful people need?
More than seven, Stephen Covey, agreed?
Habits, schmabits! Here's a better idea:
IDEO's Dave and Tom Kelley have the panacea.
Or check with bionic Jim Clark, if you please,
But waste no time asking, Who moved my cheese?
The market's in ER! Stat! A new, new-economy worker!
With the optimism of Bezos —
And the package sense of Jeff Berg . . . er . . .
Let's not forget the faith of Guy Kawasaki,
Or the toughness of Jack Welch,
Who's clever and cocky,
The humor of Scott Adams, the chutzpah of Jobs,
The luck of Sky Dayton, and — whose frontal lobes?
Bill Gates? Stephen Hawking? Disruptive Clay Christensen?
Or perhaps the brain power of 10 other men.
(Or if we ask sweetly,
The karma of bio-guru Meg Wheatley.)
Come to our aid, dear Esther Dyson.
Come, tell us, who is this neo-Andreessen?
And what should we call this ultraentrepreneur?
This genius who will make damn tootin' sure
That soon the economy will be happy and healthy
And all of us stiffs once again will be wealthy.
A CubanDoerrCase? A YangEllison?
A BallmDiller? A FiloFiorina?
Or some pimply kid in Herzegovina
Who knows some business secret, or is taking some drug
That will make what's now fast look as slow as a slug?
Who's fast? Who's swifty?
Who's nimble? Who's nifty?
Who can take this economy and stick it in gear?
Who can deliver a technoboost kick in the rear?
Whoever it is, we're looking for solace.
Please, new-economy gods: Send Speedy Gonzalez!
This is the latest episode in The Spy's continuing saga, "Working Behind Enemy Lines." You can find the entire Spy chronicles on the Web (www.askthespy.com).
A version of this article appeared in the November 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.