The Quintessential Hero of the Forbes Profile

The quintessential hero of the Forbes magazine profile doesn’t only run an efficient business; he or she plays the flute, paints, explores, performs in a rock band with an ironic middle-aged name like Prostate Pretenders…Mutual fund managers are depicted as cerebral superstars, memorizing baseball statistics, perfecting their piano technique, jetting off to bridge tournaments, and philosophy symposia. Today corporate reports are often introduced with quotations from Emile Zola and Toni Morrison. Executives are busy "applying" the insights of classic thinkers to next quarter’s sales strategy so they can be seen walking around with books with titles such as Aristotle on Management or Shakespeare on Strategy. Advertising executive Rosemarie Roberts tells the readers of Fast Company that her most influential books are No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre ("Contains my basic philosophy on living: ultimately what goes around comes around") and Machiavelli’s The Prince ("Focus, focus, focus"). They pepper their conversations with phrases like "That’s a pretty interesting heuristic you’ve got there." Or "I don’t see that surviving in the post-Gutenbergian era." Or "He’s the best phenomenologist of all the vice presidents." They may snort derisively at some notion they regard as an over-hyped meme. On the other hand, this will not prevent them from issuing pronouncements on the quarter hour: "Distance is dead"; "Progress has hypertrophied"; "Time has warped."

– David Brooks in Bobos in Paradise

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