1032: Networking

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Our company is agile and lean with a focus on the long tail. Ok, our company is actually a polecat I found in my backyard.
Title text: Our company is agile and lean with a focus on the long tail. Ok, our company is actually a polecat I found in my backyard.

[edit] Explanation

Obviously, Beret Guy's business plan worked.

Networking, in business, is the act of expanding your group of contacts in order to help your career down the line. Here, in this comic, Beret Guy meets Chief Technology Officer (CTO, an executive level position overseeing development of new technologies) Connr Clark (perhaps a typo for "Connor" or perhaps a reference to common "Web 2.0" names like the businesses Flickr, Tumblr, etc.) and Beret Guy is as strange as he usually is: Although he is a business professional he has just photocopied a burrito... He also has a business card, usually this would contain contact information, but his only says "This is my business card". He calls his briefcase, or suitcase, a "handlebox", and it is full of a quarter of a million dollars in cash. Then Beret Guy proceeds to eat Connr's business card. All of these things are not common behavior.[citation needed]

"Networking" is often an over-hyped, empty affair. There are zillions of networking meetings of every description going on every day everywhere, and mostly people trade cards and continue to not make money. So that's the joke – Beret Guy does the networking schtick, badly, and yet is somehow making huge amounts of money at it.

The comic is also likely a joke on the idea that many people are excited about becoming a "business professional" who carries a briefcase, hands out business cards, and makes tons of money, without having an adequate plan for how to make those things happen, or possibly even knowing what their actual job would be. Beret Guy never says what he does, simply introducing himself as a "business professional," and explains his piles of cash with "I am a business grown-up who makes business profits!" In this world —and in people's dreams— when you "grow up" and start a business, money magically appears. Obviously, that's not how it works.

The title text is a pun on three common business buzzwords: agile, lean and long-tail. An agile business is one that can change course quickly based on customer demands and the business environment. A lean business is an efficient one that can provide results for customers without any wasted time, energy or money. Long-tail describes the retailing strategy of selling a large number of unique items with relatively small quantities sold of each – usually in addition to selling fewer popular items in large quantities. An example for long-tail is Netflix, because they have (almost) every movie imaginable, including rare ones that only a few people would be interested in. Well, they pretend to; in reality, your movie may be marked Saved for years until they actually manage to get a copy, if they ever do.

And of course, the pun here is one animal that is agile and lean with a long tail is a polecat.

Furthermore, although "agile" and "lean" do mean a quick, nimble, and efficient business, they also refer to specific practices, as in Agile Software Development, Lean Manufacturing and Lean Six Sigma. Many people think these terms have devolved to overused jargon. While Agile is supposed to be a highly structured method to get programmers to produce more working code quickly, when someone from the marketing department says "Agile" it often means "We don't know what we're supposed to be producing, so we'll just chuck some stuff together, and keep those bits that the customer says he likes. We'll then do it all over again until we've got something that he'll pay for." "Lean" is supposed to mean that a business keeps its costs as low as possible, employing one person to do marketing and PR, not really having a Human Resources department, etc. But, in practice it often becomes "Keep as little stock as possible so that we don't have a lot of money tied up in it, and don't need a big warehouse; make stuff just before it is supposed to ship so that we don't have to store it either; make frequent prayers and virgin sacrifices to whatever gods we can find to ensure that nothing slips up anywhere along the line that our lawyers can't get us out of."

See also 1117: My Sky.

[edit] Transcript

[A man approaches Beret Guy at a party and they extend arms to shake hands. Beret Guy is holding a metal briefcase. There is a waitress in the background, carrying a tray with a wine glass on it.]
Man: I'm Connr Clark, CTO at Eusocial Media Ventures.
Beret Guy: I'm a business professional! Earlier I photocopied a burrito!
[The man hands Beret Guy a business card. Beret Guy takes it and hands the man another business card. Beret Guy has put his suitcase on the floor.]
Man: You should check us out! Here's my card.
Beret Guy: Here's mine! Networking!
[The man takes a closer look at the card, and Beret Guy holds up his case.]
Man: ...this just says "This is my business card!"
Beret Guy: Do you like it? I have more in my handlebox.
[Beret Guy puts his case on a table and opens it to reveal it is full of cash. The man looks on in shock.]
Man: Uh, that's ok, I think I'll—
Beret Guy: Here, have ten of them!
Man: —holy shit that thing is full of cash!
[The man raises his arms in excitement. Beret Guy turns to face him and chews on the man's business card.]
Man: Where did you get that?
Beret Guy: I am a business grown-up who makes business profits!
Man: That's like a quarter of a million dollars!
Beret Guy: Yay! Business is fun! Do you have more of your cards? They're delicious!
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I don't think "Connr" is a typo, as it's very likely the type of thing that a Web 2.0 business owner would do (see, for instance, the businesses Flickr, Tumblr, etc). Blaisepascal (talk) 17:56, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

That makes a lot of sense. I probably should have edited out the parenthetical when I copied/pasted from the blog. lcarsos (talk) 20:47, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

All of these things are not common behavior. I don't know why, but that line of the explanation got me laughing for a full minute. 06:20, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, I think we should make a "citation needed" for this thing 17:42, 21 February 2014 (UTC)

Another example of a "long tail" business is a luxury car maker like Lambourghini. While their parent companies (Audi and Volkswagen) target wider audiences, Lambourghini intentionally focuses on the very high-end luxury market, pricing their vehicles around $400,000 each. Their highest sales year on record was 2008, when they delivered a worldwide total of 2,430 new cars. 21:20, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

The "next" button is broken. It points to explainxkcd.com/1032. 19:50, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

Is the "Do you have more of your cards? They're delicious!" line a reference to the now-defunct CardMunch business card reader? Seem like the sort of thing that Beret Guy might take literally, resulting in him physically munching a card... PabloVergos (talk) 07:39, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
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