I think people get to a point where they start to believe their made-up mythology. Or perhaps they reach a point where it's too late to turn back. That's what I learned while getting my PhD in Lying Studies at University of Fountainhead, anyway.
This is exactly why people lie, because it doesn't matter how well your software works, what matters is that the people buying it feel like you're on the same team. Whether the CEO is a fighter pilot or not should be immaterial to purchasing an MTA.
Female authors have used this strategy for a long time by using male pen names.
Firstly, you assume that Indians are sloppy programmers. And then you conclude?
>>I'd probably be tempted to lie about my nationality when applying for a remote job.
I am an Indian and I'm proud of my nationality. I would never lie, rather I'm proud to be associated with a nation and culture whose history dates back to the cradle of human civilization.
Prefixing "Indians have a reputation of being sloppy programmers" with "let's say" doesn't totally take the sting out.
I'm not Indian but I still winced when I read it
I also winced at the overt & embarrassing nationalism of kamaal, good that he just stopped short of singing the national anthem :-) (but don't agree with the down voting his comment to oblivion).
And also at the second part of your sentence, was unnecessary. That completes my nit pick. Woof!
Edit: A description would help, if you down vote a perfectly civil comment of mine.
I could see how being more consciously aware of the distortions would make one better at manipulating media narratives and organizing complex groups of people. It would seem to have less to do with being a psychopath and more to do with being smart enough about how people work to recognize your own flaws.
'Lying' implies some intentional deception. While saying something that is not factually true is part of that, the intention, motivation and awareness of the person would constitute whether it was a 'lie' or not. At least, to me, it's always been that clear.
Our system of governance places a huge value on these sorts of papers as it self fulfils the prophecy that the governance tells us. Our leaders cling to legitimacy by pieces of papers to excuse the poor results.
I mean if the guy who could name all the shadows on the cave couldn't run the company, then obviously the crazy guy who keeps talking about the sun should never be allowed to run it, especially since he lied about being able name all the shadows. Let's put him in jail and find someone who really can name all the shadows and prove once and for all that naming the shadows is really really important.
Lying about the credential wipes out his accomplishments, at least as a C level steward of shareholder value and employee well being. He is demonstrably unethical and I would not feel safe working for him. I would never give him my money, because while he may be able to demonstrate past success, that does not imply that he won't fabricate a ponzi scheme in the future to prop up stock prices and options.
I have a degree in International Relations and a minor in Latin American Studies. I'm a software engineer. I still put my degree and qualifications on my resume but have never felt the need to lie or stretch the truth because I feel my skills speak for themselves. I was hired at my current job because I was able to demonstrate skill regardless of my limited previous experience and lack of C.S. degree.
It's a very unusual combination of coursework and the depth and breadth of that experience coupled with the unique perspectives I earned as result are more of an asset than a liability, especially when many people I encounter have similar backgrounds in computer science. Intellectual contrast provides value, because it highlights things that are often overlooked.
Take Steve Jobs and Apple for example. Steve enrolled in a liberal arts college, dropped out and then dropped-in on creative writing and calligraphy classes. He later said of the experience, "If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts."
People should own up to things like what they majored in in college. On the other hand, I don't think majoring in accounting is really the kind of person that Yahoo needs right now since it's the bean counters and pencil pushers that completely did that company in. Hopefully this guy has some other relevant experience that Yahoo could use, but something tells me that's unlikely.
That being said, it's still inexcusable for any company and any executive to push such egregious lies into corporate filings that are used by others to make investment decisions. If a company wants to lie about the background of their executives on the About Us page that is one thing, but to knowingly misrepresent information in legal documents is beyond the realm of megalomania and into the realm of legally fraudulent.
Businesses should know that people with degrees in humanities who put in the work can become competent programmers. It might also make them more willing to interview and hire people with this kind of academic background who have put in the work.
But looking at it more objectively, it's an opportunistic strategy. Usually it is associated with short term wins and long term losses.
I tend to focus on long term strategies in life. Been working well for me and I'm happier, healthier and wealthier, and increasing as time progresses. It's a good place to be!
In other words, the General is saying "jeff was an imaginary pilot" and "i was an F-4 Phantom pilot"--which he (Gen. Wilkerson) actually was.
No question she was good at her job, but it's a real problem when you're in charge of any kind of hiring to ask your applicants to be honest if you're not honest yourself.
A most interesting, alas lengthy, read about the whole sordid affair and why it may be a bad idea to hire a snake (or a multitude of them) can be found here : http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2011/07/28/pfizer-jeff...
From the author's disclosure:
"I am a convicted felon and a former CPA. As the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie, I helped my cousin Eddie Antar and other members of his family mastermind one of the largest securities frauds uncovered during the 1980's. I committed my crimes in cold-blood for fun and profit, and simply because I could. If it weren't for the heroic efforts of the FBI, SEC, Postal Inspector's Office, US Attorney's Office, and class action plaintiff's lawyers who investigated, prosecuted, and sued me, I would still be the criminal CFO of Crazy Eddie today."
Did you know that the movie was based on Frank Abagnale's book (also entitled "Catch Me If You Can", or did you just prefer Spielberg's version?
Especially in this case, where the movie is so close to the book, it's questionable. Just like in Sin City, the adaptation is so true to its source material, if you liked one, you're pretty well assured of liking the other.
Update: I reread your question, and I think you want to know if directors are taking too much credit which ought to go to the book writer? I think in this case we might disagree about the director's function, which I think goes far beyond the intricacies of the story.
As for the clarification, I was more concerned with people attributing the derivative work with the credit of the movie moreso than the director on the whole. I probably only phrased it how I did since you used Spielberg's name directly.
The thing I find irritating (on a grander scale, not pertaining to you, specifically) is when cases like this arise where the movie rides the success of the book.
I get that it's probably specific to people who have read the book vs. people who haven't, but I'm usually interested enough to ask, as sometimes there are cases when directors take the movie to a level the source material didn't, just as there are times when a director is unable to take good source material and turn it into a good movie.
Thanks again for the insight.
Could be the reason double agents are so valuable.
The majority of crooks - the 'ex-cons' you're talking about - are just shitty petty criminals or violent idiots, and get caught and punished. Why would anyone hire a shitty crook to do counter-intel against a job they failed at previously?
Hmm. If that is the case then it pays to hire some liars soley to review applications. (After thoroughly vetting them of course and making sure they are not lying about lying to get the job.)
Out of curiosity, why do you say so? Not that the dishonesty would make her necessarily bad at her job, but what made her good at it?
Really - she was the Dean of Admissions for a very long time (I think she was at MIT for 28 years overall, something like that) and while I can't remember her personally any more, I know that she had a strong rep both inside the administration and in the related professional community as well. If you're going to be Dean of Admissions, I'd have to think MIT is one of the most prestigious schools in the country for that post, especially when you consider it doesn't allocate large quotas to legacies the way some other top schools do.
So the concept of needing a fancy degree to do the job always seemed pretty funny.
Addressing your other points: I feel like a CEO should be aware of how he/she is being perceived and correct any mistakes about his/her record.
(Also, if it's ok for him to lie on his resume and keep his job, does that mean anyone applying to Yahoo should feel free to do so?)
From the proxy statement:
"Mr. Thompson has served as our Chief Executive Officer and President and as a member of our Board since January 2012. Mr. Thompson served as President of PayPal, a division of eBay, Inc., an internet auction and shopping company, from January 2008 until January 2012. [clipped prior jobs out] Mr. Thompson holds a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College. Mr. Thompson was selected as a director nominee principally because, as the Company’s Chief Executive Officer and President, he has in-depth knowledge of the Company’s operations, strategy, financial condition and competitive position. In addition, Mr. Thompson has a deep understanding of global online businesses, experience in transforming business models to deliver growth and increased value, and experience in integrating customer experience with innovative technology. Mr. Thompson also possesses strong organizational and operational skills."
I'm not sure how I feel about statements like this. On the one hand, yes, you probably do not want such a brazen liar leading your company. But on the other hand, we as a society tend to believe in a dangerously inaccurate theory of character. Namely, that people are either inherently moral or they aren't. Liars or truth-tellers. Good or evil.
In reality, life isn't so simple. Studies have shown that when people are faced with moral dilemmas, situational factors play a larger role than "character". Obviously we all know people who are relatively upstanding. But when it comes down to it, it's not that difficult to put them into a situation where they'll be willing to lie, cheat, or steal. You just need the right combination environmental factors, and they don't even have to be that extreme. It's basic stuff like incentives (which in the CEO world includes million dollar bonuses), chances of getting caught, harshness of punishment, etc.
Long-story short, if we really care about improving behavior, we should stop looking for signals of "trustworthiness". Instead, we should just assume that everyone is capable of lying, whether they've been caught lying before or not. And we should engineer a system that removes incentives for cheating + makes it more difficult to do so.
That said, lying on something this simple should be a fire-able offense. It is a misrepresentation of the facts of what investors are paying for. It isn't an promise that was not kept or an area that is grey and up for interpretation.
Perhaps if no one in the history of Yahoo has been fired for lying about credentials, then he could get a pass. Does that sound like a likely reality?
I find this whole thing personally interesting, because I had my own in and out experience with owning some Yahoo shares. I thought long and hard about their CEOs. It was clear to me that Carol Bartz was incompetent. When she left and there was no instant replacement, I realized the board had no idea what they were doing either and I sold all of my shares. At the same time I thought, what type of person would agree to become the CEO of Yahoo? Certainly, all the deep talent capable of working there are smart enough to have a job at Google, Facebook, or any number of very promising start ups. Now I have my answer: a blatant lair.
There is, a system that removes incentives for lying - as CEO he has to certify the contents of these documents, with specific penalties. Obviously, those penalties aren't sufficient motivation for him, so you can't expect they were more effective elsewhere in the doc in spots that that have even more incentive for him to lie than his college degree.
This costs me a lot of money, and I don't want to give free money to people just because they are dishonest. Ban the guy from being the CEO or a board member of a publicly traded company for 10 years. Inexpensive and an appropriate punishment for the crime.
Let's reserve prison for people that absolutely cannot integrate with normal society.
As for prison effectiveness - that's a huge question that I'm just not qualified enough to discuss. I think US is a bit too zealous in this regard, but I'm really not ready to advise here.
Are you really making the case that no white-collar criminals should go to prison? I guess I can see where you're coming from, but I personally think that we need more financial fraudsters behind bars. You know, the whole "rule of law" and "deterrence" business.
Personally I think the whole concept of prison is primitive and should be done away with. If someone is violent then they have something wrong in their head and should be treated. I know that currently asylums can be worse places than even prisons, but once we move away from this draconian "people must suffer so I can feel better about wrong in the world" strategy we can move much more focus on getting treatment and detection right.
You know that politically-correct killjoy who always speaks up about how distasteful and offensive prison rape jokes are? I'm that guy.
That seems like a compelling case for reforming the prisons into a place where you're punished for your infractions against society, but not abused or raped. Prison shouldn't completely destroy someone's life, either. We need to have meaningful ways for prisoners to re-enter society as productive citizens. Otherwise, things never get better.
This is not always possible.
Part of the problem is that it's really hard to win an election against someone who has positioned themselves as "harder on crime" than yourself. As a result, we have legislators pushing for tougher and tougher prison sentences, mandatory sentencing, etc. I don't know how other countries deal with this pressure, but I would be eager to see the United States do better.
Just a friendly suggestion.
To do that, we'd have to find an effective alternative to prison. Financial / professional penalties are clearly not enough - if the penalty for getting caught in a crime that makes you millions of dollars is just paying some penalties, why not take that gamble? From a purely rational standpoint, it would be the logical thing to do - if you win, you make millions, if you get caught you just cough up the money.
He himself prepares his resume, while some flunkie is writing his bio in documents. The former would prove he was a party to fabrication, the latter would need additional information.
What's happening here is liar's debt. Early in his career he must have made a decision to lie about his education, when no one was looking and when the chances of someone verifying the claim were low. He reused the lie on every subsequent job and it's stuck with him. It became encoded in the DNA of his professional reputation and he could not disabuse himself of it without making himself look the fool.
Now if the lie is recent and was used to get the head job at Yahoo - well then it's an even stupider lie. Why risk your professional reputation over something so trivial?
I don't know if Thompson is an accountant, but the perception of a lying accountant running a public company does not bode well for long term investor confidence.
While Computer Science degrees are common these days, they were rather rare among people who graduated in the '70s. So it does make him stand out among those with the same level of seniority (for a CEO position he's not competing with recent college graduates, you know).
Additionally, why bother lying? I doubt Mr. Thompson got the job due to his 20 year old CS degree at a tiny liberal arts college.
I'm not saying this is the intent here, but one of the first steps down the path.
But lying about the degree, and that's easily verifiable, just doesn't look good for him.
These are not the situations you want a CEO creating, no matter how they do it. That it's all from a relatively petty lie makes it all the more aggravating I'm sure.
I think the breach of ethics should be a big deal. We've grown too used to the idea that if you profit it's ok to commit some small deceptions. It's an acceptance that harms us all.
Otherwise we would just let the engineers run the company!
Even with strict accounting controls, investors are going to have trust issues with the financial statements.
If it turns out -he- lied about his background, or knowingly let it slide, then I agree with all of you. But I'll wait for a response before forming an opinion.
Not all the facts are in yet. CEOs rely on others to prepare documents. It is -possible- that the person at paypal who wrote his bio made a mistake, that someone at yahoo just copied the paypal bio, and that he never noticed the mistake.
What people fail to understand is that our entire way of life, the whole concept of business and finance, is based on deception and at the very least withholding of accurate information.
I haven't seen a double degree like mine very often, but I have seen the latter form on a LinkedIn profile where Googling for his name returned a university web site showing that the person actually had a minor, not a second major, in Mathematics.
It's true that degrees are not comparable and colleges have different standards of difficulty. Students may be able to convince advisers to count one course for multiple majors. And degrees are not a great measure of applicable skill.
However, if you want to get a degree, double degree, double major, or triple major, you should follow the procedures at your college before you graduate, rather than just adding it to resume many years later.
As another example, a classmate created his own major to take more Business and Psychology courses and fewer C.S. courses; he lists the degree like a triple major, which is very misleading.
It's worth noting that with "holds a BS in Computer Science and Mathematics" the double degree/double major distinction is a little ambiguous.
As a broader point, universities are heterogeneous enough that I'm not sure caring deeply about the double degree/double major distinction is useful. It may be a big difference at one institution and no difference at another.
*For a value of 'nobody' that doesn't include your graduating cohort at your school.
What is the difference between having them separate as opposed to saying it was a double major? You still have to meet the same requirements don't you?
The alternative is a "double major". That is where you meet the requirements of both the math major and the physics major. This is harder than just meeting the requirements of either one individually. Your degree is listed as a "B.A. in Mathematics and Physics" for the double major as opposed to a "B.A. in Mathematics-Physics" for the combined major.
I worked hard for my "and" instead of a "-", dammit.
Although UIUC does offer a single "Math and CS" major through the liberal arts college to address this potential issue.
As far as I know the requirements would count towards both degrees, though.
The first was through the engineering department, and the last two were through the liberal arts department.
The combined programs were basically the entire sequence of non-elective CS courses required for a CS degree and the non-elective math or stats courses. My friends that got degrees in those basically took 20-30 hours more math courses. I got a straight CS degree, so those hours were filled with about 15 hours of CS electives and the remaining 15 were with the engineering school's "application sequence" requirement which was a series of electives in another discipline.
Of course, I may be compeletely wrong with respect to the OP's university.
The requirement for double majors is to complete both majors; only two courses are allowed to count twice, and only if the undergraduate chair of the department agrees.
Once you complete a double major, you can get a double degree (two diplomas) by reaching 150 credits instead of the 120 required for a single or double major.
Seems pretty fair since many colleges offer a one year Masters degree once you reach 150 credits (yes, I did take some graduate courses on my journey.)
Were you issued two diplomas, like me? Even if the college only issues a single diploma for everybody, you're allowed to list both separately if your college officially recognizes that you completed a double degree.
Once I realized I could reach 150 credits to qualify for a double degree, I talked to the registrar, who told me they print a single one that looks exactly like the one for double majors unless the degrees are different types (B.S. and B.A.), but you were allowed to list them as separate on your resume (and could pay $30 to get a second copy). This glitch was fixed in time for my graduation, however, and I got two diplomas.
They still had a glitch where you had to choose one major to walk with for graduation, even for a double degree. Some students including myself solved this problem by getting in line for each of the majors.
You can recognize them by what they _don't_ say publicly online. When a leader of an open source project bills himself with over half a dozen titles, but none of them are educational qualifications, then they lied about those quals to some current or previous employer/s.
Is the board responsible here as well?
I have to imagine hiring a new CEO for a public company the background checks must be impeccable.
But they don't necessarily support a resignation or firing. Thompson's other problem is that he has not made any friends (and for the wrong reasons)(patents, rebuffing Loeb, plan-less layoffs).
In my view (as a Yahoo shareholder and until tomorrow an employee), it's just another distraction that Yahoos don't need. So many great people being sandbagged by issues out their control or knowledge.
Particularly during a time when Thompson really needs to move Yahoo past the "will-they-or-won't-they" period that preceded layoffs by a month, and which still persists a month after the big 're-org' announcement.
Though I guess this is just kind of what happens when you play hardball on this big a stage.
So...does it matter any way?
Yahoo is going through a dark time and to have something like this brought to light is so low.
In my opinion, college degree is not neccessary to be a competent CEO. Leaders are praised for different qualities than those which can be simply taught in a school.
Jobs didn't lie about having a degree either.
The kind of lie which Yahoo CEO made, is much softer in comparison. And its obviously a mistake which he made when he was young, and then got stuck with it.
The strong reaction on HN, perhaps, is a result of too many young people out here who put a greater importance to degree. I think, it matters to them much more, being just out of college.
Would you approve of a CEO lying on public investor documentation?
It doesn't seem fair. But I guess demand for ceo's is high and quality ceo's are scarce.
People at the top of the corporate and political ladders are excellent at one thing - bullshitting. Their job is the same difficulty as countless jobs which pay a tiny fraction of their salary. They're just good enough liars to convince everyone otherwise.
Anyone can hit rocks in a mine. It might be hard and stressful work, but anyone can do it.
Not anyone can make decisions and lead an entire group of people.
Leading is a skill just like mining or programming are skills - they can all be learned. Given the recent evidence of life-long brain plasticity, it's reasonable to assert that this is more a problem of nurture than nature.
In short, we train relatively few people to lead, hence the low supply.
As I said, most CEOs nowadays seem to behave like mob "cleaners". You want them to come in, do the dirty work that needs doing, and then leave. You don't want them necessarily going somewhere else after leaving you. So you pay them a lot, because you want them to live quiet lives afterward.
On the other hand - it might be totally fair to be prosecuted for doing this... :)
..... cue the downvotes ....
What company do you work for? I'd like to steer clear of it in the future.
It's one thing to say "I don't care about credentials". It's another thing entirely to say "I don't care about dishonesty".
And in this case, the lie is pointless. Nobody cares if Thompson has a CS degree, so why lie about it? It's a poor reflection of character imo, and I wouldn't work for someone I don't trust.
Lying about your credentials is really low and kept the more experienced person from getting the job. You may be happy with the liar's output, but you don't know how much you're screwing yourself (and their future employers) in the end by allowing that type of behavior to be rewarded.
You might be okay with that, but there are enough people with character and integrity out there that I am not okay with it.
I realize that a college degree is different (I personally love college and find it quite useful), and college can be beneficial, I think the value that society places on a degree is so absurd that I feel for those who may he compelled to lie. I may note that I have not encountered such a person yet.