Are you ready for an unvarnished view of the corporation, the kind of view that can only be provided by somebody undercover and on the inside? Sort of like the reality TV show Undercover Boss with one difference, there is no “show” in the reality I am planning to present.
Consider the source – I have lived and worked in the United States for almost forty years, and the majority of that time I operated undercover in one sense or another: fifteen years as a super-secret spy in the employ of the KGB (see Wikipedia, Google and my website jackbarsky.com) and another fifteen years as a trusted source for the FBI. And of course, during all that time I also had a “real” job and a career in corporate America.
Jack Barsky: Chemistry Professor, Bike Messenger, KGB Spy
Throughout that career, I was perennially underemployed. Had I lived what many consider a normal life, as a triple valedictorian (German high school, German university, U.S. college) I would in all probability have achieved a position of significant influence and power in industry or government. The switch in countries, languages, cultures, and ideologies interrupted the normal flow of development, and as a result I operated mostly below my capabilities during my entire career in the United States. Considering that my first job in the U.S. was that of a bike messenger in Manhattan, my subsequent career is still nothing to sneeze at.
Underemployed does not imply under challenged or bored. I put my unique background, which includes a total of 25 years of training and education, to good use. The study of chemistry and math sharpened my analytical skills which allow me to assess a given situation in the shortest time possible. During my undercover years the ability to read people was a survival skill – I survived. Combine these two with a natural curiosity, which was nurtured and sharpened during my years working in intelligence, and the result is a keen observer of people and organizations. Since my corporate career went all the way from entry level to CIO, I gained both a horizontal as well as a vertical view of the corporation. The common thread that can be found in all organizations and at all levels is human nature with all its strengths and frailties.
career insights from the keen observations of a spy
Now that corporate America has finally cut its ties with me, I am free to share my thoughts without any concerns regarding the impact on friends and co-workers. Of course, all my observations are anecdotal and all my opinions are just that, opinions. Yet they are also relevant, because they have been validated over and over by an army of peers with whom I have interacted intensely through all those years. I am not angry, cynical, or disappointed. I just observe and share the truth as I perceive it.
Because of my combined background as a spy and information technology executive, I have assembled and maintained a network of experts in the realm of cyber security. Expect an occasional opinion piece inspired and guided by one of my friends who are fighting some of the most significant battles of our times – the battles over cyber space.
So, fasten your seatbelts and join me for a ride through the haunted house called the CORPORATION – I will show you a view of the naked truth as uncovered by a real spy, and while Scott Adams (Dilbert) makes you laugh, I will make you think!
Of course, as an ex undercover agent I am also a keen observer of society at large as well as the international scene. Expect a few views about issues in those areas as well.