Monday, November 05, 2007

Project Mayhem

I thought that Dale Carnegie was a ubiquitous American character. The author of How to Win Friends and Influence People entered my consciousness years ago when I found a used copy of his seminal self-help book in a used book store. During my years in the corporate world, Carnegie's name and the class that teaches his philosophy have come up time and again.

I'd heard nothing but good things about the Carnegie class and asked if I could attend at the last place I worked. Though it was deemed a good idea, I wasn't worth their investment. Luckily, the place I'm working at now agrees that training is worthwhile and footed the tab for a Carnegie class. Now, when folks talk Dale Carnegie they're usually talking about the "Effective Communications & Human Relations" course. I've heard that this is a nightmare for people who fear speaking in public. Rather, I opted for the "Leadership Training for Managers" course.

While speaking in front of a group doesn't give me much pause, the thing that made me anxious about attending my Carnegie class was the vibe I'd gotten over the years that Carnegie is something of a cult.

I've been attending classes for four weeks now and we've not dispatched of any sacrificial animals but it strongly brings to mind FIGHT CLUB. The first week everyone went around the room and introduced themselves. Afterwards, everyone else repeated their name twice. I kept waiting for someone to introduce themselves as Robert Paulson. "His name is Robert Paulson, his name is Robert Paulson..."

This week our homework assignment wasn't to start a fight but to give someone a compliment, just to get their reaction. I'm waiting to see what other homework we'll get this week to see if it's another item that Project Mayhem turned on its ear.

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