Friday, December 05, 2008


faff: To keep speaking pompously and with a lot of jargon , when in fact you don't have a clue of the topic at hand. Often excercised by Business people (mostly MBAs), public speakers, HR guys, politicians etc.
1] The CEO got up late to prepare for the presentation and ended up faffing like mad on the podium.
2] In an interview , when you've said enough "I don't know"s , its time for faffing.

- From

If you're an MBA, faffing (or pfaffing, as we MICAns prefer to call it) is second nature. No, seriously. We even have an event for it during MICANVAS, where people are presented with random slides and are asked to make presentations on the spot, and they end up doing a good job of it!

Now this post is not going to be pfaff-bashing, pfaff-eulogizing or telling people how to pfaff (the last one, though, I promise to write on soon). What this post will be all about is imagining a world without pfaff, and how much simpler life would be if we didn't beat about the bush.

Imagine, for instance, the mother of all pfaff situtations, placement interviews in BSchools. Let's take a dialogue between Prospective Employee (PE) and Recruiter (R). Let's call the institute Management Institute of India (MII).

R: So, tell me something about the subjects you have studied at MMI, PE.

PE: Well, I majored in marketing, and learnt a variety of subjects such as branding, general marketing, advertising, media, consumer behaviour, etc.

R: Hmm, I see. And do you think these will help you at our company? For instance, you say you studied branding. How do you think that will help you?

PE: Undoubtedly, sir. In today's marketplace, it is imperative to look from the consumer's point of view. The brand essence that he carries forward in his mind is of utmost importance, it can make or break his decision to invest in your product or not. Hence building a brand, maintaining it, etc, are vital, and I believe the skills that I have imbibed during my study at MII will help me greatly, and help the brand grow as well.

R: Impressive. You were an engineer before this, according to your CV? A mechanical engineer?

PE: (oh-oh) Yes, sir, I was...

R: And after that you went and did a software job, and after 10 months you decided to do an MBA in marketing...? How do you justify that?

PE: Well sir, it's like this. When I started out to do my Engineering, there were a wide variety of options in front of me and I decided that this would be a safe career path, after which I could choose anything I wanted. At the end of engineering, I decided to go for a software job because it was a lucrative field. Of course, it is not as if all of my four years went to waste. My stay at college was invaluable to help me inbibe analytical skills, which I carry forward even today.

R: Impressive, PE. I think you will be an asset to our company. We would like to make you an offer, do you have any questions?

PE: Sir, what would my salary be like?

R: Your cost to company will be 9.7 lakhs per annum

PE: (kickass!) Sir, how much will that translate to per month?

R: Well, it depends on your performance and the company's performance, but I assure you, our in-hand is on-par with what the best in industry offers.

PE: It's been a pleasure, sir. Thank you so much.

R: Good luck!


Now, cut to the same conversation happening without all the gas.


R: Dude, what did you do out here at MII for two years?

PE: Laid a few people, learnt how to make better Powerpoints and speeches, a bit of guitar, Stanley Kubrik movies, Deep Purple's music, and stuff like that.

R: Why on earth should we hire you?

PE: Dude, listen, I may not have the greatest CGP thingummy, but you can bet your corporate ass that I can sell.

R: You sound pretty sure and confident. I like that. What did you do in your internship?

PE: Flirted with the other temps, and gassed out a few models and impressed higher management.

R: Hehe, buttkickin, dude! We're hiring you.

PE: Sweet. How much are you gonna pay me?

R: You'll get 45,000 in hand per month. Plus some money when you get really old and all - some PF crap.

PE/R: (laughs)

R: Though, I'll take up your offer only if --- is offering me less. No hard feelings, eh?

PE: Haha, sure dude! I understand! I wouldn't be in this shitpot interviewing nutters like you too if I had my way! Chal, man, it's been great. See ya!


See how simple and transparent it is? No need to build up a corporate facade, no need to use words that are over 6 letters, and no need to pretend to be a genius. Everything is truthful, in-your-face and real. And it's all over about half an hour earlier.

Another good exercise is to read interviews with CEOs of companies that have recently undergone a logo change. They spew out so much bovine feces, it's not remotely funny and you'd want to drown under the repugnant puke of corporate pfaff. Youthful identity? Energy? Symbiosis? Who the heck are you kidding? The true reason people change logos is just to create a bit of noise and to remind people that they're still around. Youthfulness? Give me a break!

Another brilliant paper I read: After 6 pages of pfaff, graphs and figures, the earth-shattering conclusion: "Young children in India like watching television". Oh, no! Really! And I thought they spent all their time solving nuclear physics equations. Oh, you've really opened my eyes now!

Imagine if all rhetoric and gas were wiped out from the world.

After every terror strike, Manmohan Singh would just say, "We have no clue who did this, and we're not likely to find out, really. Just insure yourselves!"

After a controversial Ind-Aus test match, Dhoni would say, "See, Ricky really is a bastard, and I hate the stench of him when we get onto the field. That Clarke catch was not really a catch, and he effin' knows it as well as I do that we deserved to win!"

During the inauguration ceremony for new MBA students, the director would say, "Hey there, guys. You've paid a good sum to learn a lot of gas, which you might as well have done from Wikipedia for free. All we are is really a placement facilitation organization with a few frills. Join a few committees, have a girlfriend, have fun, mate!"

During the convocation ceremony, "I told you so!"

Hard Disk vendors on Lamington Road, "Yeah, will last for about a year, and then you can come back and buy another one from us."

And most importantly, noone will justify the biggest-mistake-of-my-life-was-doing-engineering eff-up by saying "it taught me analytical skills".

Analytical skills. ANALYTICAL SKILLS? ANAL-EFFIN'-YTICAL SKILLS? What in the Lord's name are ANALYTICAL SKILLS?! You slept through four years of mechanics and electric machines and manipulated some calculations and graphs in the lab, and you say you learnt ANALYTICAL SKILLS? So fresh out of Engineering, when E&Y give you a live case on why the sales of left-handed trousers are going down in rural Itanagar, you'll actually be able to 'analyse'? Why of course, you will! You have ANALYTICAL skills now, don't you? Oooh. What rot! For what you really learn in Engineering, click here and here.

Oh, and you won't have people like Jobs bullcrapping about the iPhone being an 'internet communications device'. You can check out one of my favourite iPhone-bashing posts here.

So there we are. How we would love the world to be a gas-free, pfaff-free place. Now excuse me while I go and write a mail to my professor explaining why I couldn't finish the assignment because I was involved in an "intellectual literary activity which would lead to eyeballs and appreciation by SEC A category graduates and post-graduates which would inturn lead to networking possibilities" (viz, wrote this blogpost).


mayank said...

Quick question.....

Were these types of pffaf spewers (with alleged analytical skills) in charge of wall street.

ChUcK said...

Good question, that. Pfaff, in professional use, is restricted mainly to the marketing profession. Finance, since it deals with hardcore numbers, is harder to gas your way about.

So in response to your question, I'd say no...

Nithya Ravi said...

Ummm i think i would have to disagree with that bit about wall street not being full of pfaff spewers. The way i see it, those financial geniuses up on wall street got a wee jealous of us marketing lot and decided to up us on our own game. So they pfaffed on how mortgages and MBSs were the greatest invention since Gutenberg's printing press and thereby, landed the whole lot of us in the pretty financial mess that we are in.

Now getting, back to what I wanted to comment on, i.e., the blogpost up there, i can sooo see your oozing frustration ;P but it really is fun sometimes... esp when you can make a cook 40K a month just by gassing about how the new soap on air by Star Plus is an exercise in utmost creativity. :D

Lekshmi said...

Absolutely Nithya... Fin is pfaff, in numbers. As much as you marketeers. And we also pfaff on why our numbers are right.
I should know ;)

Vivek said...

I was in the process of joining an MBA school this year. But hey, WTH! Might as well use the money to buy a super-huge computer screen, a blistering 4GBps internet connection and sit in front of wikipedia as you have very astutely pointed out!
But I remember this other saying -"Money can't buy happiness. But be sure to be sitting of loads of it before saying such crap". So you are forgiven for trying to de-pfaff, not me. Pfaff wins I guess...:-D
Loved your blog by the way...

lastknight said...

Hahahahaha... Awesome post! :D I've lost count of the number of times I've wished interviews were straightforward things in which you and the HR could just be honest with each other... Unfortunately, with my own final placements looming ominously on the horizon, I've got to the get the ol' gas-generating plant fired up again...

speed said...

why do you sound so frustrated with good ol' BS? han't it got you out of what could have been worse BS a lot of the time?

hell, you remember the semster exams? you think we'd have gotten that much time to do the crossie if we'd not believed we could we could BS our way to a 70%? :)

arshat.chaudhary said...

hahahahaha.. too cool mate..rotfl..