In a workplace, there are a lot of phrases people use, even though a lot of them make no sense such as ‘throw under the bus’, ‘ducks in a row’. As talking in buzzwords has become more common, Steve Blakeman, Managing Director – Global Accounts, OMD Europe and Mike Adams, Investor – Advisor – Speaker wanted to address this issue and launched a comedy book titled ‘Billy Bullsh!t Talks Business’. In conversation with Digital Market Asia, the authors explain what inspired them to write the book.
What is the concept and inspiration behind the book?
Steve Blakeman: Working for so many years in advertising / marketing proved to be all the inspiration I needed. I’ve met so many people who spout these inane bullshit phrases and business idioms that it has become parody in itself. Mike has seen much of the same as a consultant and so we developed the character of Billy as example of the worst kind of bullshitter in that he only ever speaks using corporate claptrap. Pop that in your mental microwave and see how it defrosts. Boom!
How did you go about getting the book published?
Mike Adams: That has been a quite a process. When we released a crowd sourcing article across various social channels, it gained so much traction that the article was featured on Inc. and BusinessWeek. This seemed to get the attention of some of the major global publishers. We also signed a literary agent who was as excited about Billy as we were. However, the various publishers wanted to change the concept of Billy Bullsh!t into something that we were not aligned with. So we stuck to our guns. What we are doing now is commercially validating the book via a crowd funding platform and using a pre-order campaign. Essentially, we pre-sell a number of books, thus proving commercial demand for Billy and his wisdom. The book then gets pushed out to the attention of the world’s publishers and with a splash of luck we land a deal. It’s kind of like Tinder for authors and publishers. We already have five publishers interested and it’s still early days.
Why did you look at comedy as the genre for the book?
Steve Blakeman: As a concept, the book is unique because there has never been a character who only ever speaks total bullshit and Mike and I thought that offered plenty of comedic potential. We then put Billy into 52 work related scenarios such as a conference call, a brainstorming session, a sales meeting etc. so that readers could easily identify with these situations and imagine someone like Billy participating in them. There is also a very funny backstory running through the book. In Billy’s role of ‘Chief Guru of Imagineering’ (as you can see, even his job title is bullshit) he is responsible for the launch of two new toys, one of which is fundamentally flawed and the other is hilariously inappropriate. That’s the thing with Billy. Frankly he is totally un-PC and thoroughly unlikeable but the things he says are inadvertently funny. He’s definitely the type of person you laugh at, not with. We knew we were on to a winner with Billy when we sent a copy of the manuscript to BAFTA award winning comedy writer Tim Reid. He said we had knocked it out of the ballpark and smashed it into the stratosphere. Actually, that’s literally bullshit but what he did do is write this as the foreword for the book: “it’s total bullshit. You will love it”.
Who is the target audience for the book?
Mike Adams: Given it is a comedy business book, it is suitable primarily for professionals working in the corporate world. They will relate the most to the inane, nonsensical business idioms that Billy insists on using. We are finding that people are buying books for their staff, bosses and colleagues as well as for family members. It’s a great gift book and we have some fun and creative ways for people to purchase a copy of the book. Ranging from a simple eBook through to corporate gift packs with various bonuses. It’s the kind of book that would read on the toilet, or on a plane…or on a plane toilet.
Who is Billy modeled after?
Steve Blakeman: Now that would be telling… Actually, we think that a little bit of Billy exists in all of us. Come on, admit it we’ve all used some business bullshit at some stage in our careers. I know I have. A lot. Sometimes you just can’t help yourself. But what this book does is that it raises awareness of how much BS we use in business and by dialing it up to 11 with a character like Billy it makes you realize how truly stupid most of it sounds. In fact it’s our intention to try and eradicate all this corporate twaddle when the book officially comes out later this year with a campaign built around #banbusinessbullsh!t which we genuinely believe will capture the hearts and minds of the business fraternity and will be spoken about in hushed tones in the corporate corridors of power – now that’s proper bullshit.
What are the 5 key takeaways from the book?
Mike Adams: All five takeaways can be condensed into just one key takeaway, it’s a good laugh! It’s comedy and designed to be a bit of fun although it all serves as a self-effacing prod to all the current Billy Bullsh!tters out there. Like Steve said, we hope that people start to realise that the corporate, execubabble, flim flam, buzz waffle sayings that have permeated the business world need to stop! So put that through the iteration cycle and see how it cascades your thought-shower. Kapish? Good. Nailed it. Peace out.