100 Bullshit Jobs... and How to Get Them

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  • Edition: Reprint
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  • Copyright: 2010-03-30
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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The scholarly discipline of Bullshit Studies has blossomed in the last several years, fertilized by a number of critical works on the subject and the growing importance of the issue across a wide range of professions. Now, best-selling author and lifelong practitioner Stanley Bing enters the field with a comprehensive look at the many attractive jobs now available to those who are serious about their bullshit and prepared to dedicate their working life to it. What, Bing inquires, do a feng shui consultant, new media executive, wine steward, department store greeter, and Vice President of the United States have in common? What, too, are the actual duties performed by a McKinsey consultant? Other than sitting around making people nervous? Could that possibly be his core function? Likewise, what does an aromatherapist actually do, per se? Sniff things and rub them on people, for big fragrant bucks? Is that all? The answer in all cases is "Yes." They all have bullshit jobs. These few, of course, are just the beginning. Across the length and breadth of this shrinking globe, skillful bullshit artists have secured pleasant, lucrative employment, and are enjoying themselves more than you are. In virtually every occupation, from Advertising to Yoga Franchising, lucky individuals who "work" in these coveted positions enjoy the best lives imaginable -- they are paid well, they rarely break a sweat, and their professions are highly respected, because nobody really knows what they do. At once funny, useful, and tolerably philosophical, this groundbreaking work takes a close look at 100 bullshit jobs -- the money they bring with them, the actual tasks and activities involved (if any), and famous and successful examples of each position, who will provide the neophyte with inspiration. Most crucially, Bing goes on to offer what others so far have not--a clear, concise strategy to help job-seekers at every level reach for that brass ring, knowing full well that it may be attached to the nose of a bull.


100 Bullshit Jobs...And How to Get Them

Chapter One

Serious Introductory Bullshit

Not long ago, a friend of mine who occupies a very high position in a mind-bogglingly enormous conglomerate called his boss, a veritable titan of industry, to inform him of a developing situation.

"Bob," said my friend, whose name is also Bob, "I'm going to acquire that $15 billion operation in China I was telling you about when we flew together last Thursday."

There was a profound silence on the other end of the phone. My friend Bob held his breath. This was an important strategic priority for him, a very big bite of a potentially disastrous apple. When he had broached the subject on the corporate jet heading down to Dallas, the chairman had seemed preoccupied, unfocused, had looked out the window the whole time, and then reverted to cursory golf chat. Now presented with the reality of this awesome financial and operational step, what would big Bob, the steward of the entire enterprise, known for his sharp mind, caustic wit, hot temper, cold heart, and unpredictable emotional infrastructure, do to little Bob?

"Bob," said the chairman thoughtfully after a time, "have you ever been to Paris?"

My friend's mind whirled. What could this possibly be about? Was there a hidden agenda here that was going to pop up and bite him in the butt? "Sure, Bob," he said carefully. And waited.

"When you're there," said the chairman, "what hotel do you stay at? I used to invariably go to the Crillon, but I'm getting tired of that. I think the scene may be more interesting elsewhere. I don't want to cross the river, so keep me on the Right Bank, but what would you suggest?"

"Well," said my friend, "I like the Ritz a lot."

"Thanks," said the chairman warmly, and, after a short disquisition on the wonders of the south of France in spring, rang off.

Bob did the acquisition without further consultation, except for a presentation to his board, of course, which also seemed distracted while he was laying out the plan, and then, after approving it, had lunch.

Is this a story of corporate malfeasance? Of responsibility shirked and the shareholders' interests once again trampled in the hot dust of executive laziness, inattentiveness, and stupidity? No, it isn't, because my friend Bob knows what he is doing and will make everybody a lot of money in China. So it's not about that. What it is, however, is a stunning and pungent demonstration of bullshit in action.

Bob's chairman has a bullshit job. He knows it. He revels in it. And in this tale, we see him at the top of his bullshit game, performing his stunningly bullshit function with ease and distinction. The board, which should come as no surprise, is a bullshit institution and conforms to all expectations in that regard, including the part about lunch. Throughout, the bullshit artists are able to operate in a pleasant, no-stress, friendly environment provided by guys like my friend Bob, those willing to assume the actual mantle of hard work and all the unpleasantness that comes with it.

Opportunities in the lush brown field of bullshit employment are virtually limitless. My publisher told me to limit this exercise to 100 jobs for some kind of bullshit marketing consideration, but I can tell you that I could have doubled that number easily, and that's focusing only on the domestic front and California. The global possibilities are equally limitless, especially in France, where fully 46 percent of all people are engaged in some kind of bullshit occupation, and Japan, where they hire people to help you get on and off escalators.

What do all these people have in common? They all have bullshit jobs. And guess what? They're having fun, making a living, and enjoying their lives, perhaps more than you are right now as you wolf down that tuna sandwich before you push your nose back on that grindstone.

Ah, bullshit jobs! God must have loved them, since he made so many of them. Actually, Abraham Lincoln said that about something completely different -- the common man, I think, which is why they put his head on the penny. Anyhow, the people lucky and skillful enough to have secured bullshit employment are everywhere, in virtually every field from ayurvedic healing to yoga franchising -- I couldn't come up with a z. The folks who work in these coveted bullshit positions enjoy the best lives imaginable -- they are paid well, they work very little, and their professions are highly respected because nobody really knows what they do.

What, for instance, are the actual functions performed by a McKinsey consultant? Other than sitting around making people nervous? None. That's what he does. And by next Tuesday, he'll probably be your boss's boss! You think I'm kidding? Read the paper. About half a mile from me is another division of my corporation. Not long ago, they named one of their McKinsey consultants to the No. 2 position at the headquarters operation. The encouraging wrinkle here is that instead of the usual story of the consultant snuffing out a real, live, nonbullshit working executive, the McKinsey guy is superseding another McKinsey guy! Who says there are no happy endings in business?

What does an aromatherapist actually do? Sniff things? Yes! For big, fragrant bucks, that's what!

When the executive vice president of new media gives you his card, what is he offering? Who knows? Vaporware! For six figures plus a bonus equal to 100 percent of his base salary, in reward for the quality and size of the digital bullshit he's capable of marketing.

What is a shrink actually doing when he or she is nodding at a suffering depressive? Nodding, we know that much. Beyond that? Essentially unknown. I know PhDs who make upward of $300 an hour for that. On the other hand, my shrink is worth every penny. Is that because what he practices is not bullshit? Or that his bullshit is simply better than any other, at least for me? Who knows?

100 Bullshit Jobs...And How to Get Them. Copyright © by Stanley Bing. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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