I’d been out of school for a good 15 years or 12 years. And there was a program that was offered at Harvard Business School called the Owner/President Management Program. And it was for people who had been out of school at least 10 years and trying to figure out how to grow their businesses and how to think about their businesses. And they took approximately 100 people a year, from different industries and different walks of life; and the age groups were between, say, 32 and 60. And I was one of the younger people in the class.
This was 1985. And I remember getting in there; and the guy who ran the program was a guy by the name of Marty Marshall. And he was a marketing professor. And he was a real curmudgeon. And I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Paper Chase with the John Houseman character ? Okay. So, well, John Houseman was a law professor ; he used to torture his students. And if you didn’t come into that class extraordinarily well prepared, you were destroyed, literally.
Well, Marty was kind of like that in the business school sense. And there was a lot of people he’d throw bait out to, and of course they’d grab it hook, line, and sinker. And he’d kind of slowly reel them in. And then he would surgically cut off their legs in front of the class. And I’m thinking to myself, ‘This is not going to happen to me. I’m not going to let this happen.’
So, of course, when you’re in class and you have a particular, tough professor or teacher, the thing that you try to do is avoid looking at them, hoping that they won’t call on you. So, of course as luck would have it, they rotate the class; and this program was a program where you lived on campus 3 weeks a year for 3 successive years. And as luck would have it, I was sort of posted to the front row. And Marty’s not an idiot; he was looking at me noticing that I’m averting his look.
So, he comes, stands right in front of me; he goes, ‘Berkowitz.’ And I’m thinking to myself, ‘No. Please. Please.’ And he says, ‘What business are you in?’ So, I’m thinking to myself, it’s not a trick question, is it? So, I’m saying, ‘Um, uh, uh, uh–I’m in the restaurant business.’ And he looks at me and says, ‘Oh, you think so? Huh?’ And I’m thinking I can’t believe I blew that answer. And he says, ‘What you’re going to do, you’re going to do an environmental analysis of your business. And you’re going to hand it in next term.’
Well, an environmental analysis is, you take a look at your business, past, present, and future. So, I did this. I did a research paper; I was the only one given this assignment. I handed it in the next term; someone typed it for me; it was about 42 pages. And I handed it in.
And when I handed it in the first day of class in that next term, he didn’t even open it up. He waved it in front of my face and he waved it in front of the class, and he goes, ‘All right, Berkowitz. What business are you in now?’ And I said, ‘I’m in the fish business.’ And he said, ‘Good. You did your homework.’
It was the single most important lesson I ever learned. So, I think at that point–and his message to me was, ‘Look: yeah, you are in the restaurant business. But you are really in the fish business. And you have not appropriately exploited the positive value of what you know in this segment. And before you go off thinking of Italian restaurants or Chinese restaurants or steak houses, or whatever, focus on what you know best and really become the expert in that.’ And again, it took that banging across the head, the threat, the humiliation if you will, of going through that exercise that really made me appreciate and focus on what was really important.
With today’s “modern” and “progressive” Ivy League institution represented by Joshua Greene, the human embodiment of the Soviet-Harvard illusion :
We all have our pleasures and pains, and as a moral philosophy we should all count equally. And so a good standard for resolving public disagreements is to say we should go with whatever option is going to produce the best overall experience for the people who are affected. Which you can think of as shorthand as maximizing happiness–although I think that that’s somewhat misleading. And the solution has a lot of merit to it. But it also has endured a couple of centuries of legitimate criticism. And one of the biggest criticisms–and now we’re getting back to the Trolley cases, is that utilitarianism doesn’t adequately account for people’s rights.
You see the difference here, don’t you ? You see the cavernous distance between the former and the latter, about the distance between Super Dave Osborne and a real stuntman, even though these two teachers are separated by no more than a single, solitary generation ? Surely you see what a mere 30 years of metric-driven insanity has done to post-secondary education in America. I mean, how can you not ?
It’s right there : there was once a time and a place in the United States where teachers could humiliate their students, making an example of particular individuals in front of the entire class not only to outstanding personal effect for the targeted student, but also to the exemplary benefit of the rest of the class, to say nothing of the gain to society as a whole of having men and women end their years at college knowing how to screw in a freaking lightbulb.ii What Professor Marshall demonstrated was not only useful, but only possible in a sociopolitical campus environment where teachers a) can freely bang their students, and b) have no fear of losing their teaching positions for something as inoffensive as a poor grade or a “controversial” opinion.
I mean, you’ve heard about these pathetic wastes of human skin currently running around calling themselves “professors,” haven’t you ? These deskined, deboned, machine pressed shitboards masquerading as “liberals” have, to everyone’s great amusement and in the fullness of cosmic justice, been reduced to ball-gargling slaves by SJW students who’re smart enough to know weakness when they see it and crafty enough to go for a cripple’s throat when the opportunity arises.iii It’s really quite priceless, which is to say, it’s no place to send your brightest children.iv
Granted, Harvard has never been a purely academic institution – offering as it has the weight of prestige that’s served as an important signal to prospective employers and proud parents since day one – very much like a Louis Vuitton purse, a new Mercedes,v or an iPhone 6 – but the ratio of educational capital to signal has never been more skewed towards the latter than it is today. A degree from Harvard has become, like Porsche, another symbol of Asianvi financial dominance. Sure, all of these degrees and cars and leather goods ostensibly serve some practical purpose, but really not any more than related items costing hundredths the price. And that’s the point.
All of which is a direct consequence of having federated nation states that have printed too much paper wealth too quickly and have been insufficiently embattled at full-scale for far too long. Two generations without hardship is pushing it. Three is asking for it. Four is game over.
In any event, if any would-be academics and wannabe world-changers are looking for a new home, a better home, to call home, start with 6 months in the IRC Yeshiva and see what happens.
Put in your time, add value, and you won’t end up decimated. It’s the new way, much like the old way.
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- Berkowitz is the CEO of Legal Sea Foods, which operates 34 seafood restaurants on the East Coast of the United States. [↩]
- Lest professors be made to appear that they’re the only ones hamstrung by “politically correct” behavioural expectations, which is to say acting like lunatically shallow limp-wristed wusses who dream of nothing but non-violent protest and flaccid dicked sex, this sorry state of affairs isn’t at all unlike the situation presently facing parents :
Now, in a sane society, the other parents at the playground would applaud the father for taking charge of the situation and putting an end to his little fuck’s rampage. In an insane society, however, as seems to presently be the case in the socialist west, the other parents pick up their cell phones to call the police to report “abuse” or “unnecessary violence” or some such.
- Similarly, America becometh Africa. Be careful what you wish for, children. “A million bucks” might put a lot more deer shit in your house than you were looking for. [↩]
- Remember when only the smartest of your kids went to secondary school, much less post-secondary school ? Y’know, like in England in 1600 ? If you don’t, you soon will when sound money comes back ’round aknockin’ and makes you realise that not every single kid on earth, not even your own flesh and blood, is worth a percentage of all the money that can ever be. There will decisions to make, risks and rewards to weigh, skin in the game, winners, and of course losers. [↩]
- NOT AN OLD MERCEDES !!1 [↩]
- …and Asian-American, a group that now makes up a full 20% of Harvard’s undergrad population. [↩]