On Fridays, I often post a list of five things, and ask invite you to build on the list by adding more good stuff in the comments.
This week, it’s the five signs that you may have Big Company Syndrome. Big Company Syndrome usually starts to emerge as soon as small businesses pass the 100-person mark, and employees usually contract it after just a few weeks on the job at a Big Company.
You're afflicted by Big Company Syndrome if:
- You can’t remember the last day that you didn’t attend at least one internal meeting.
- Keeping tabs on corporate politics (who’s up and who’s down in the eyes of the CEO or various division heads) occupies at least 20 percent of your mental energy at work.
- Your inbox is full most of mostly-worthless e-mails on which you’ve been cc’ed by colleagues, and you maintain a mental list of co-workers who are so incompetent that you’d be more than a little happy to see them laid off.
- Getting the word "senior" added to your title feels like a major accomplishment.
- You can’t recall the last time you’ve been to a cocktail party, conference, or networking event that isn’t directly connected to your employer.
Now, I know there are lots of good things about working for a Big Company, like health insurance and the occasional sales convention in Las Vegas.
But there are two negatives I’d highlight:
1. Once people contract Big Company Syndrome, they don’t do enough networking outside of their Big Company. As a result, if they’re ever laid off, they tend to have a rough time quickly creating the connections that will lead them to their next job. (I get these desperate e-mails every week from ex-Big Company employees asking me whether I can have lunch, help make introductions, suggest events they should go to. I feel for these folks, but really, this is something you should’ve been doing over months or years, while you were employed.)
2. People suffering from Big Company Syndrome are so heads-down, devoting so much time to their important Big Company job, that they forget about doing the things that keep our innovation economy vibrant, like going to college campuses to talk to students, or sharing their expertise with entrepreneurs who are launching new companies. That’s a shame, since better connections with students would help their companies hire the best and brightest, and there are lots of start-ups that could use guidance on sales, hiring, and operations from people with Big Company experience.
Last week, I met a long-time AT&T executive who was struggling to recover from Big Company Syndrome. He knew almost no one who hadn’t worked at AT&T at some point, and he was totally unaware that on any given night in the Boston area, you can pick from a half-dozen great events that bring together techies, investors, and entrepreneurs. He seemed a little detached and glassy-eyed, but I hope he’s gonna make it.
Do you have Big Company Syndrome? Are you recovering from it? What are the other symptoms? (I know there are more than five…)
About Scott Kirsner
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.
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More from Scott
December 9: Web Innovators Group
Demos of new mobile apps and web ventures at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. Free admission; cash bar.
December 10: Fintech Demo Day
Short demos from startups in the financial technology realm.
December 11: Unpitch
Entrepreneurs and investors sit down for lunch, advice, and feedback. Entrepreneurs must apply to participate.