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August 07, 1981 - Image 9

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1981-08-07

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Arts

The Michigan Daily

Friday, August 7, 1981

Page 9

Molloy helps himself to success

By J. T. SCANLAN
Daily Arts Writer
Perhaps no topic of conversation is
more likely to generate anxiety or even
downright depression in the minds of
young adults than The Job Market.
Everywhere people are doing un-
believable things to achieve the
slightest advantage over their rival job
seekers. Personal contacts, familial or
otherwise, now enjoy slavish attention.

1 1 \ "
1
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t
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r n t
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r l I
D. A woman must move back when selling to a man.

ning Wall Street Journal. After reading
only a few pages of Live for Success,
though, it is unfortunately obvious that
Molloy is actually serious.
CONFRONTED by the various
ethical issues which necessarily arise
when writing a guide book on how to
live, Molloy presents ideas worthy of
only the comic strip businessman. To
begin with, the prevailing assumption
of the book is that "success" really
means "success in the business
world. " Doctors, professors, cab
drivers, air traffic controllers, and
other countless thousands who don't
need to know what a board meeting is,
are excluded from Molloy's world of
success, and receive none of his "prac-
tical" advice on the conduct of life. The
sensibility Molloy presents is actually
quite similar to that of Woody Allen's
friend in "Play It Again, Sam," who
evaluates human relationships in terms
of the "costs" and "benefits."
Molloy reinforces our growing per-
ception of him as a horribly
stereotypical businessman when he at-
attempts to write directly on abstract
notions such as "failure," respon-
sibility," and of course, "success." In
the manner of the "tough executive,"
he cuts through all silly "theory" right
away, and gets down to brass tacks in
the opening pages. "This is the most
important book ever written about suc-
cess," he says, "because it is not based
on personal opinion, but on scientific
research." Molloy is devoted to this
belief, and every statement he makes is
heavily buttressed with an array of
precise statistics, regardless of literary
effect. Indeed, he is so proud of his sup-
posed objectivity that he chooses to
present his most graceless displays of
statistics at the beginning of chapters,
where they are most opulent. His chap-
ter on language, for example, begins:

A . c
E
C-r-
D G
"If you can't communicate, you can't
command. This was the consensus of
2,268 successful men and women we
questioned throughout the United
States-2,212 were executives in large
and moderate sized corporations ..."
AS THIS passage suggests, Molloy
also delights in reducing extremely
complicated issues to blunt, pseudo-
axiomatic statements, another staple of
the cartoon businessman. But when he
ventures discussion of issues more
serious than what tie to wear, his
declamations are no less than offen-
sive. "If you avoid the mannerisms of
the lower socio-economic groups and
emulate those of the upper socio-
economic groups," he writes, "you will
be treated better in this world." Such
" ~ U375 N MAPLE
'Z, nn

College students will study many extra
hours to boost their Grade Point
Averages a few hundredths of a point.
Even the act of writing a resume is no
longer thought of as a task, or even a
science. It is now unabashedly under-
stood by all as an art.
A few years ago, the calculating John
T. Molloy, former prep school English
teacher, observed this mad interest in
slight advantages and produced Dress
for Success, a publishing phenomenon.
Molloy correctly noticed that men,
generally, are horrible dressers, with
little sense of what goes with what.
SO HE SUPPLIED all the sartorial
slobs in America with a guide book. But
rather than gently urge men to acquire
taste in clothes, he simply set down
rules for dressing. Casting aside all
aesthetic issues, he appealed to male
pragmatism: If you follow my rules, he
argued, you'll get a better job.
A while later, he presented women
with a similar guide book, The
Women's Dress for Success Book, em-
ploying the same pseudo-scientific
marshaling of statistics. But women
were offended by his directions for'
dressing, especially those on under-
wear. Though Molloy is lauded as "con-
sultant to over 380 of the Fortune 500,"
he is considered something of a boor to
educated, civilized people.
He recently put together a third book,
Molloy's Live for Success, offering once
again his usual display of bad taste. But
this time he seems to delight in
displaying it, so much so that one won-
ders at first if he is serious. For exam-
ple, before one even opens the book, the
eye is forced to look at Molloy himself,
wearing one of his "power" suits-a
charcoal grey three-piece pin-
stripe-with copies of his books all
carefully positioned on top of his mor-

advice surely overlooks important
problems of the American class
system, which films like Ordinary
People are continually calling to our at-
tention.
Intelligent people demand more sub-
tlety of thought on the matter. The
businessman, however, takes the sim-
plistic notion as the given, declares that
we must "Look out for No. 1," and then,
if he is like Molloy, justifies his ethical
discourse by reciting a cliche used by
his good-natured grandmother: "God
helps those who help themselves, and
God help those who don't." Throughout
the book, Molloy essentially defends
cultural and socio-economic
stereotypes with forceful language.
And he is not even half as interesting in
doing that as G. Gordon Liddy.
Molloy's dogmatic habit of mind con-
sequently leads him to absolute
foolishness. After rapping other suc-
cess books for suggesting impractical
expenditures for those newly set on the
executive track, Molly offers what he
considers more sober advice. He says
See SELF, Page 10
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