Networking Hell

Last night we went to the theatre to watch “The Big Lebowski.” Jeff Bridges plays Jeff Lebowski, a.k.a. The Dude, a pot smoking underachiever who undergoes a series of misadventures with no discernible gain at the conclusion except for the simple refrain “The Dude abides.”  What does that mean?  It the land of narcissists, sociopaths, whores and overachievers (set in Los Angeles 1998), the Dude is content to float along with the ebb and flow of the universe.

It was a sold out show, with White Russians for sale in the lobby, a throng of bathrobe attired underachievers closeted in a city full of type A overachievers.  I live in Calgary, Alberta – the hub of the oil & gas industry in Canada.   I am a laid off geologist, an admittedly ‘hippy’ profession in an industry heavily laden with engineers and sons of CEOs with MBAs tacked onto their credentials as common as polyester in the 70s. Brent oil pricing decided to dive bomb below $30 which means I’m not going to be working as a geologist anytime soon.

Which brings us back to the Dude and the dichotomy of Calgary’s unemployed.  There are the overachievers and the underachievers.  The overachievers are the networkers.  They co-chair galas and volunteer for organizations with a ‘P’ somewhere in the acronym to signify the ubiquitous ‘petroleum’ which roots the Alberta economy.   They join the Rotary Club to hobnob with the wealthy and connected.  They list all these ‘achievements’ on their resumes or LinkedIn profiles.  They name drop other networkers like Craig or Bob, or Suzanne.  Craig is often an unemployed oil and gas marketer embarking on a career as a life coach and Suzanne is exploring business opportunities in renewables.

I am a closeted underachiever.  I dress my toddler in the next day’s clothes for bedtime.  That way I don’t need to bother getting her dressed in the morning.  If my underarm odour has not permeated my clothes, I wear them another day because I reason I’m saving water and energy washing less clothes.   My idea of networking is going for beer and talking shit about people whom still have jobs but don’t deserve them as much as we do.  I suspect truly successful people are having beer with other successful people.  And not the cheap Pilsner kind of beer.  They’re drinking craft microbrewery beer with undertones of chocolate or apricot.  So, forget networking hell, raise a glass to the Dude, let the winds of change take you wherever they may and don’t be afraid to embark on another misadventure.  Chances are the company you keep will be a lot more interesting.



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