the dark side of Class
I was looking at this website called clarity.fm that was pitched as a way to get entrepreneurial advice from 'experts' at a per-minute rate. I wrote about it on twitter and mentioned that I was conflicted about it. Someone from Clarity asked me why the conflicted feeling and (cause I'm so gangsta) I plainly replied it "seems a bit gauche"→
Basically, if people in tech need advice they just email people they know right? Or get an "in" to them via someone else they know. Or just grow their network until they find someone who can help them. The industry runs on social introductions, certainly not on payment for quick chats. "Jack, meet Jill, she's doing something great" is tasteful. 'Hey Jack, Jill wants to pay to talk to you for 20 minutes' is—well—not.
So… the problem is that if you don't know how to do this, or you aren't the kind of person (or have the kind of idea) that is conventional in this space—or, heck, are just not able to get your aimed-for advisor's attention—you're out of luck. The tasteful approach is also a cloistered approach.
Whereas just being like "hey! I really would like to talk to you. How about we make this a formal request backed by a monetary transaction?" is a lot more transparent (maybe not in motivations but at least in mechanisms) and accessible.
A couple weeks ago I read this article in the FT: "Bankers keep close ties with fashion houses
. Families behind Italy’s brands prefer discreet dealmakers".
In the cobbled, narrow streets of central Milan, near the Scala opera house or the Armani flagship store on Via Manzoni, other consiglieri can be found behind closed, and often unmarked, doors. …
These men have certain traits in common. They rarely give interviews. They never speak on the record. They will never blurt out the family secrets, and shudder even to think of it.
Big national and international investment banks may be called on to support blockbuster deals.…
“But when you are considering selling a company that has been owned by the family for 100 years, the last thing the family wants is a brash US banker who is going to write up an ‘info memo’ and be sending it from London to New York to Shanghai,” says one senior banker speaking on condition of anonymity (demonstrating the sensitivity of the topic).
And as I read this I was like "Yes!" Discretion. Zipped lips. Family affairs. Long term strategy. It's the basic appeal of high fashion houses kinda mirrored in their bankers' style.
But a point struck me about the "brash US banker" this quoted guy was dismissing. Things like stock markets, trading floors, guys cold calling for commissions, all of that—yes it's loud, yes it's greedy and needy. It's also plain, recorded, and a lot more accessible. The world is full of people with financial requirements who won't walk through cobblestones to go to an appointment with Milan's discreet bankers. But they can always call up an institution at which this guy writing "info memos" works to see if he can help.
I wonder if dark side of 'classiness' is exclusivity. Aiming for transparency will always debride some of those layers that protect us from seeing the venal motives within.