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Heroes and Villains

It's celebration time -- today's the day of CMP's annual holiday party. As such, upon arriving to the office this morning, each employee at CMP received a gift from our new CEO, Steve Weitzner. He's already made a real impact on the company as a communicative leader who knows what has to be done, as someone who's come up through the ranks. Since I make it my business to know about all sorts of things before they happen, the gift was not exactly a surprise. But I certainly didn't expect two g

It's celebration time -- today's the day of CMP's annual holiday party.

As such, upon arriving to the office this morning, each employee at CMP received a gift from our new CEO, Steve Weitzner. He's already made a real impact on the company as a communicative leader who knows what has to be done, as someone who's come up through the ranks.

Since I make it my business to know about all sorts of things before they happen, the gift was not exactly a surprise. But I certainly didn't expect two gifts: a small blue box with a "Celebrate CMP" sticker, plus a red-gift-wrapped book. Had someone in corporate headquarters upped the gift stakes from simply a tchotchke, to a tchotche and a book? What could it be? A desk calendar? An inspirational tome? A guide to the world's telephone exchanges? I had to know!

I ran my thumb along the top of the book and gently tore open the wrapper to reveal: "How to Be a Villain: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans And More!" by Neil Zawacki (Chronicle Books, 2003).

"Wow," I thought. It would certainly be a groundbreaking approach for a company to encourage each employee to embrace his or her inner malevolence. If so, we'd have no problem scooping the competition and beating forecasts for 2006. Or maybe it was a test. Would we see through the irony, and strive to become better people as a result? Tempted with the powers of evil, would we become heroes?

As an HR strategy, it's pure brilliance.

But then I read the card. The book was from one of my co-workers. She stopped by to say, "I saw this book and thought of you."

The real gift was a squeeze toy and a gourmet cookie. No death traps, no doomsday devices, no demented clowns. Well, it's probably better that way.

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