The absolutely superior response when your boss says, "Cheer up!" - Africa News Quick
  • July 15, 2021

The absolutely superior response when your boss says, “Cheer up!”

Question: The head of our organization just sent a company-wide memo that says (basically) “everyone should be more optimistic.”

I really don’t know what you mean. Our business has been making it difficult, so you may want us to “put on a happy face.” What I do know is that soon he will visit us in what he calls “the workshop” and he will ask each of us what we are doing about it. That I have to do?

Illustration by John Shakespeare.Credit:

Answer: Regular readers of this column, and the column that preceded it, will know that I am not a fan of the capital M motivation or any of its by-products and ramifications. I find simplistic “claims” unpleasant. I find the dismissal of luck and the parallel adoption of the survival bias offensive. I’m not even particularly interested in routine. But I make a significant exception.

I have introduced a habit into my work life that I swear that (borrowing from the jargon of the self-help snake oil salesmen) “inspires and empowers me” without fail every time I return to it.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer takes a break from dancing.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer takes a break from dancing. Credit:Photo: AFP

Every six months, I visit YouTube and enter these words into the search bar: “Steve Ballmer dancing while possessed by a supernatural entity.” It brings an extraordinary number of results, but always at the top is Microsoft’s vision of the launch of Windows 95. I highly recommend that you, and all readers, take a look at it. But for those who don’t enjoy the feeling of intense nausea coupled with abject mortification, here is a summary:

There are five men (and one or two camera operators) on stage in front of a crowd. The Rolling Stones’ I start is playing. One of the men is Bill Gates; He wears a short-sleeved beige shirt, dark pants, and a look of discomfort so overwhelming it seems to wrap him up like a sensitive disguise in a supervillain movie. He, like everyone else on stage (except the camera operators), is dancing.

Why does Bill Gates, who looks like he would be more comfortable smeared in a burnt amber spray tan and performing in a bodybuilding contest, weakly sway and sway on stage on a bland play on words?

The answer is Steve Ballmer.

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