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Dead Poets Society

I was just talking to a friend of mine in marketing. It’s not something I hold against him and he’s remarkably good at it, quite possibly one of the whirlwinds of the IT industry. You name the available technology and he’ll find a way of getting his message out to you, like it or not. In fact, he’s so close to spamming that only our data protection laws keep him marginally respectable. If you’re connected then of course you’re fair game and mailing lists are one of his principal sources of information.

This is of course, the problem we face if we register for a magazine or a newswire or visit a show or even own a credit card, Complete the most innocuous looking survey or customer questionnaire and your life then becomes the property of someone else, to be sold and bartered much like bubble gum cards.

My friend recently managed to acquire a ‘Hot’ list of UK Chief Executives and promptly mailed the lot. This revealed an interesting statistic, namely that CEOs appear to be dropping off their perches at an alarming rate. Although not quite an endangered species, they appear to be threatened. By what, I can’t be sure but certainly, being a CEO, particularly of an IT company, is up they’re with risks of a mine clearance job in Cambodia.

Now it’s quite possible that you have a CEO of your own who may not yet have expired or at least gives the impression of still being alive. Possible clues are whether he is still breathing or responds to his email, although, it’s entirely possible in some of our larger and better-known technology companies, that the CEO hasn’t yet learned how to use email and prefers a ‘clean desk’ management policy.

It could well be the case that the recent threats of recession and savage cuts within the industry have had a more dramatic impact at the top of organisations than we may have first thought. Either that or it’s another case for Inspector Morse. But the moral of the story is that not even death is an escape from the marketing men anymore and if there’s a way to send email into the next world, you can be certain they’ll find it pretty soon. Perhaps the best protection is to have a mailbox address of CEO@company.com which you can be sure re-directs immediately to Limbo and unlike a recent incident in Silicon Valley, don’t rely on the cleaners to tell you that the boss has been slumped over his desk for three days; take in an occasional cup of coffee and see if he drinks it between naps.

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