Outside the Square

Lucy Kellaway, author of the new novel Who Moved My BlackBerry? epistolizes on the dangers of midlevel managers and career coaches.

From: Keith Hammonds | Date: Monday, 10:02 a.m.
Lucy, greetings. Let me say that Who Moved My BlackBerry? [Hyperion, May] is perhaps the funniest thing ever written. Ever. Two things before starting: I’d love to finish this up in the next week. And I’d like to print your email responses only–just like in your book. My first question: What makes Martin Lukes tick?


From: Lucy Kellaway | Date: Wednesday, 1:42 p.m.
Martin Lukes stands for every male manager trying to scramble to the top of the greasy pole. He is driven by ambition. He has little self-doubt–and even less self-knowledge. He thinks of himself as highly emotionally intelligent but has no idea how he is coming across. He is hungry for money, but more hungry for recognition. He wants people to love him and to be dazzled by his ability to “think outside the square,” yet the ideas he comes up with are phony and pedestrian. He is a shameless player of the political game who manages by being a world-class brownnoser to disguise the fact that his native abilities are not quite as world-class as he would like.

From: Lucy Kellaway | Date: Thursday, 8:39 a.m.
Ah no, Martin Lukes is no David Brent. His employer, a-b global, is a Fortune 500 company, not a little paper business in Slough. Martin earns more, dresses better, and has grander ambitions than anyone in The Office. He is also less of a loser. He commands some respect in the company, and his ideas–daft and pretentious as they often are–are frequently seized on by his unimaginative colleagues.

From: Lucy Kellaway | Date: Friday, 4:10 p.m.
The funny thing is that Martin has really started something with “creovation.” The idea was his, and at the time I thought it was possibly too foolish to be believed. Much to my delight, I was told by a friend who works for a marketing company that someone had actually used the word in a meeting. Martin is considering suing.

From: Lucy Kellaway | Date: Monday, 11:55 a.m.
No, I’ve never been coached–but I can vouch that Pandora [Lukes’s coach] is truer than you may think. To research her, I bought all the top coaching books and shamelessly lifted what seemed the most bogus tips. I actually had to tone it down a bit, as unsuspecting readers would never believe how daft this coaching industry has become.