I’ve got one month left on the payroll of big pharma and it got me thinking about the bizarre cult of personality that pervades big biz. Toiling in the communications dept, I was privy to the never-ending pleas of lower and middle management to have meaningful contact with senior execs – in fact, that was my job, providing video “contact” between upper management and the unwashed masses – well, we did wash, maybe unannointed masses is more accurate – and that’s my point – what we were looking for? Greatness? To brush up against a demi-god and somehow absorb some of their superior-being-ness? Take Jeff Kindler, former CEO of Pfizer – he had more than 100,000 people groveling and prostrating themselves before him for years, hanging on every word, trying to parse every glance for hidden meaning and wisdom. And then, in the blink of an eye (on a Sunday night, when all good employees and biz reporters were tucked snugly in bed) he was gone – not forgotten, because in true corporate style, he was erased. And he has since summarily disappeared. Great? No, he was a guy – a very privileged and well-connected guy, but still, just a guy. A guy who’d never known, until recently, what it’s like to not get what he wanted. Not so very great, but the cult of personality continues, with his successor assuming his mantle, the protection of his office way up high and the adoration of the unannointed masses of big pharma.
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