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Bonjour Laziness: Why Hard Work Doesn't Pay

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Your company wants you to be loyal. You should feel lucky–after all, your job is a privilege (think of all those who would like to have it). And you know (despite what you’ve read about Enron and WorldCom) that management has your best interests at heart. Your goal is to devote yourself to the pursuit of corporate profit, make your company number one, and reap the benefits Your company wants you to be loyal. You should feel lucky–after all, your job is a privilege (think of all those who would like to have it). And you know (despite what you’ve read about Enron and WorldCom) that management has your best interests at heart. Your goal is to devote yourself to the pursuit of corporate profit, make your company number one, and reap the benefits of its success.Or is there something else you want to do with your life?Bonjour Laziness dares to ask whether you really have a stake in the corporate sweepstakes, whether professional mobility is anything but an opiate. It shows you how to become impervious to manipulation and escape the implacable law of usefulness. In short, this book explains why it is in your best interest to work as little as possible.


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Your company wants you to be loyal. You should feel lucky–after all, your job is a privilege (think of all those who would like to have it). And you know (despite what you’ve read about Enron and WorldCom) that management has your best interests at heart. Your goal is to devote yourself to the pursuit of corporate profit, make your company number one, and reap the benefits Your company wants you to be loyal. You should feel lucky–after all, your job is a privilege (think of all those who would like to have it). And you know (despite what you’ve read about Enron and WorldCom) that management has your best interests at heart. Your goal is to devote yourself to the pursuit of corporate profit, make your company number one, and reap the benefits of its success.Or is there something else you want to do with your life?Bonjour Laziness dares to ask whether you really have a stake in the corporate sweepstakes, whether professional mobility is anything but an opiate. It shows you how to become impervious to manipulation and escape the implacable law of usefulness. In short, this book explains why it is in your best interest to work as little as possible.

30 review for Bonjour Laziness: Why Hard Work Doesn't Pay

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    My expectations were not really high, but I at least thought that I would have to chuckle sometimes remembering my own, not hyper-successful, time in a big corporate enterprise. Maybe the book would have been funnier and wittier in French, especially regarding the linguistic peculiarities of corporate language, even though they seem to be the same all over the world. What's annoying: The author is trying to come across as a kind of cynical intellectual observer, but in the end she seems to be ra My expectations were not really high, but I at least thought that I would have to chuckle sometimes remembering my own, not hyper-successful, time in a big corporate enterprise. Maybe the book would have been funnier and wittier in French, especially regarding the linguistic peculiarities of corporate language, even though they seem to be the same all over the world. What's annoying: The author is trying to come across as a kind of cynical intellectual observer, but in the end she seems to be rather bitter and nagging, completely lacking humour in the endless polemic against the modern office world which gets as repetitve and senseless in the end as the business reality she's attacking. I absolutely see her point, but a rant without some solution is just pointless and should be done in a shorter form - maybe a pamphlet, an article? A whole book, built up like a thesis, but with no real cientific background, is just a waste of time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    I guess I've never actually finished this book--too lazy!--but I pick it up from time to time to read a chapter and chuckle over its (rather bitter, rather cynical, and, thus, rather up my alley) points-- "Never, under any circumstances, accept a position of responsibility. Additional aggravation is never worth a few extra bucks a week." "[Work] is not a place for self-fulfillment. If it were, you would know it." "You will not be judged by how well you work but by how well you conform." I'm not sayi I guess I've never actually finished this book--too lazy!--but I pick it up from time to time to read a chapter and chuckle over its (rather bitter, rather cynical, and, thus, rather up my alley) points-- "Never, under any circumstances, accept a position of responsibility. Additional aggravation is never worth a few extra bucks a week." "[Work] is not a place for self-fulfillment. If it were, you would know it." "You will not be judged by how well you work but by how well you conform." I'm not saying I completely agree, nor am I saying I completely disagree. What I am saying is I wish I were less of a conformist. Onward to being the most downwardly mobile person in America . . .

  3. 5 out of 5

    Josephine

    The other day, a friend of mine mentioned overhearing two co-workers gripe about another woman (surprisingly, not my friend) who sat with a “sour look” on her face the entire time they were at a team lunch — and this is what I don’t get: there are a surprising number of office drones out there who act like we’re at work to make friends and have a good time…and these aren’t even people who do meaningful, important work all day. (I mean, sure, some of us are delusional enough to believe that we do The other day, a friend of mine mentioned overhearing two co-workers gripe about another woman (surprisingly, not my friend) who sat with a “sour look” on her face the entire time they were at a team lunch — and this is what I don’t get: there are a surprising number of office drones out there who act like we’re at work to make friends and have a good time…and these aren’t even people who do meaningful, important work all day. (I mean, sure, some of us are delusional enough to believe that we do, but unless you’re working in healthcare or emergency services or in the developing world to end poverty/hunger/war/refugees/modern day slavery then chances are…your little cubicle job ultimately doesn’t equate to much of anything.) At the risk of sounding like a total curmudgeon (or maybe I’m past this point), I have zero interest in having drinks with people after work because the nano second the company stops paying me for the day, I’m outta there. Corinne Maier, who wrote “Hello Laziness,” describes having the nerve to voice this fact: “Once, in the middle of a meeting on motivation, I dared to say that the only reason I came to work was to earn my crust; fifteen seconds of total silence followed, and everyone looked embarrassed. ‘Work’ derives from an instrument of torture — in French (travail), at any rate — but it’s still de rigueur to declare that you work because you are interested in your job. If you were being racked for hours on end by a merciless torturer, you wouldn’t say anything different.” (p.30) See…there’s a reason why the Financial Times claimed that, if you read this book, you’ll automatically exclaim, “Oh my God, I work at the same company!” I’m not going to get into a lengthy bitch-fest about work here because…well, it’d be incredibly stupid to do so. Instead, I offer up some gems from Maier’s book and leave with the recommendation to pick up a copy: “…it’s just not nice to be so unhelpful, to leave work as soon as the day’s task is done, not to go to the Christmas party, not to contribute to Mrs. Whatsit’s retirement present…to bring a packed lunch when everyone else eats at the canteen…People who behave like this are the pariahs of the office, because a level of sociability is demanded — lunchtime drinks, in-jokes, hypocritical kisses on the cheeks. You have to pretend to go along with it all, on pain of exclusion.” (p.11) “‘Business culture’ is an oxymoron, a figure of speech that puts together two contradictory words…it creates an artificial sense of identity and belonging…This mini-patriotism is a dense mass of stale-smelling habits, aptitudes and oddities of dress and behavior, which verge on caricature. Rewritten by the management, it becomes official history, with its own heroes and festivals to motivate the worker and encourage identification with the company, unified and indivisible. It manifests itself in an orgy of pointless seminars, unwearable T-shirts, badges (yes, they still exist) and so-called motivational slogans.” (p.55)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    This was much more stereotypically French pseudo-intellectual than I'd hoped. Maier likes to quote Lacan and Foucault for no other reason than to let you know she's read Lacan and Foucault, and she takes 120 pages of a 150 page book to get to the point. And her point is a fairly obvious one: offices suck, so stop giving a shit about your work because they certainly don't care about you. As for the promised strategies and tips for getting away with doing little or nothing at work? The only concret This was much more stereotypically French pseudo-intellectual than I'd hoped. Maier likes to quote Lacan and Foucault for no other reason than to let you know she's read Lacan and Foucault, and she takes 120 pages of a 150 page book to get to the point. And her point is a fairly obvious one: offices suck, so stop giving a shit about your work because they certainly don't care about you. As for the promised strategies and tips for getting away with doing little or nothing at work? The only concrete examples she offers are quotations from the Dilbert comic strip...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I think everyone should read this! No matter your view.. I can not help but to think of the differences between Edith Wharton (Having just finished The House of Mirth) and Corinne Miller. The differences in 100 hears, yet the amazing similarities concerning women in the workplace and views about women in general. In some ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same. We just wear different clothing. Interesting. All just really interesting. Food to ponder.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carin

    This book may have been intended to be funny, but it simply depressed me. That's probably my own fault for not liking what I see in the mirror--I play the role of the middle manager for whom she possesses such contempt. C'est la vie. I will lie in the bed I've made until I can figure out the next step--with absolutely no help from Corinne Maier and this ridiculous book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Gee

    The author is expecting that the end of history is just around the corner. That might seem mad but there are many clever people who have believed the same thing in the past. I think it was Marx who was a champion of that one. I think the book accurately describes the modern workforce. I wonder myself sometimes if it would be better to go and start a small business. Perhaps a bakery or cafe. I agree that there are some major flaws in the current system. But I think it is the result of the weakness The author is expecting that the end of history is just around the corner. That might seem mad but there are many clever people who have believed the same thing in the past. I think it was Marx who was a champion of that one. I think the book accurately describes the modern workforce. I wonder myself sometimes if it would be better to go and start a small business. Perhaps a bakery or cafe. I agree that there are some major flaws in the current system. But I think it is the result of the weakness of the human condition which creates socially destructive motivations.... the love of money, and the desire for recognition. As a consequence we treat each other badly. This humanity is what spoils all forms of society both here and in the future and is unavoidable. But it is what makes us what we are and in it is the potential for good and bad. I read this at about the same time I read Erasmus' Praise of Folly. So i am comparing this author against Erasmus who touches on some similar themes. I gave Erasmus 5 stars. In comparison this book is worth 1-2 stars. But i give it 4 because it is interesting and worth reading and it is easy to read. Hope that makes sense.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Claude

    Things must be really bleak in France. Maybe in a country where 1 in 4 work for the government this rant of a book makes sense. Written by an economist at state-owned French utility, Electricité de France, this book rails against corporate conformity and mindless drudgery. I had to put the book down halfway through when I felt like i was stuck in a conversation with the kind of person who won't leave you alone until they convince you that your life just sucks. Sometimes it's better to just say " Things must be really bleak in France. Maybe in a country where 1 in 4 work for the government this rant of a book makes sense. Written by an economist at state-owned French utility, Electricité de France, this book rails against corporate conformity and mindless drudgery. I had to put the book down halfway through when I felt like i was stuck in a conversation with the kind of person who won't leave you alone until they convince you that your life just sucks. Sometimes it's better to just say "Au revoir" and hit the road.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    So far this book has me laughing so hard. Especially the part about what a crock corporate companies are when they use the "work smarter, not harder" philosophy! Reminds me of the last crappy job I just left!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jimmakos Gavagias

    It started very nice but as the book went on it was a little to management writing for me.I have to admit though that the last pages was a little bit like a revelation for me cause the ideas there are very revolutionary and pioneer.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Saily

    It was like having a buddy share the same thoughts that I have on Corporates! They are never a part of our dreams, Just a part of our living-hood.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Natasa

    Fantastic, why didn't I read this book 10 years ago?

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    Man, I love the French. I don't think this black hearted cynical little treatise on the stupidity of business could have come from anywhere else.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Filip

    Sure, Corinne Maier has a point in that the power balance between company and employees has tilted towards the company, and her book is meant as a provocation, not as a scientific breakthrough. Knowing that, I was still disappointed. The author hides between a flippant intellectual pose, which actually hides her ignorance about business economics. Statements such as "a Quality Control manager is a totally superfluous position" or "we give people English job titles because they don't know what it Sure, Corinne Maier has a point in that the power balance between company and employees has tilted towards the company, and her book is meant as a provocation, not as a scientific breakthrough. Knowing that, I was still disappointed. The author hides between a flippant intellectual pose, which actually hides her ignorance about business economics. Statements such as "a Quality Control manager is a totally superfluous position" or "we give people English job titles because they don't know what it means" betray a very narrow viewpoint and an unwillingness to understand economic realities. The inconsistencies are blatant, eg when she herself admits being fond of using difficult French words which colleagues won't understand. Nice attempt at provocation, but the faux-intellectual snobbery quickly became a bore.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Originally published as "Bonjour Paresse" in France, "Bonjour Laziness" is a fiesty little tome that rails against the evils of the corporate world, and "middle managers" in particular. Anyone who has worked in a low-level office job will immediately identify with Maier's disdain and frustration for corporate culture. It actually gets a bit depressing at times, and I had to put it down for this reason. I'm not in the mood for reading something so morose right now! Great translations of French wo Originally published as "Bonjour Paresse" in France, "Bonjour Laziness" is a fiesty little tome that rails against the evils of the corporate world, and "middle managers" in particular. Anyone who has worked in a low-level office job will immediately identify with Maier's disdain and frustration for corporate culture. It actually gets a bit depressing at times, and I had to put it down for this reason. I'm not in the mood for reading something so morose right now! Great translations of French words, like "claptrap," "flimflam" and "zesty." I'd love to know what the French equivalents are! "Zesty" is definitely an underutilized world - I'm going to try and use it more often!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Izabella

    I like cynicism. I appreciate a business book that has a cynical perspective. But this one is just too negative. Maier just has way too much bitterness about her years spent working in business and it spills out on every page. It would have been better if the same message was presented more matter-of-fact with less rhetoric and less of a "the business world hates you, hates you, hates you" angle. A draining read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lily

    I'm embarrassed...this was too hard to understand. The basic gist was a kind of snarky, ironic look at office culture in France. But it was a whole lot of jargon and I just...didn't get it. I liked the parts about Americanisms seeping their way into French culture in general but especially into the office: "packaging" "benchmarking" "reporting" "merging" "downsizing" (all said in a French accent). On to the next.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John G.

    An interesting book about something one ever sees discussed openly or honestly, the mind numbing idiocy and pointlessness of corporate work. This book touches upon it, but the author gets a little too cute and pithy for her own good. I like her call for sabotage and active disengagement. This book is a bit bleak and black, which I like but is missing the seriousness this subject deserves. Worth finding and reading, I picked it up for $1.50.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Judie Hatton

    If you don't like the corporate world.....get out. I'm not convinced working for a non profit company is any different. I think the author has a horribly negative attitude about the corporate world. It certainly isn't perfect, but has a lot of benefits too. Go work for yourself if you can't get along with those in the corporate world.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anggi Hafiz Al Hakam

    I have one copy of this book in Indonesian Language or Bahasa version. It was a gimmick from a bookreaders radio show. I found this book as entertaining. I mean, you can get the best of you even if you are do nothing, lazy, or careless. I'm impressed on how Maier describe it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    James Christensen

    Not a big fan. Somehow this got on one of my lists of business books to read. Unfortunately, it's satire and not particularly great satire. I was very disappointed. On the flip side it only took about 30 minutes to read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    Maybe it's due to the translation... but I didn't like it. I had high hopes too. But I felt like the author was trying too hard to be funny. For a very short book, it was hard for me to finish.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    I enjoyed this critique of business, and would have enjoyed it more if I worked somewhere in which slacking would only let down the company. Still, it was a good dose of reality and an amusing read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nadine Lacroix

    Bah could have been good but she kept repeating the same concepts. It's a small book but i think you could have shorten it even further!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anton Berger

    awesome read, gives you something different to think about. warning: not so good for your mood if you're in a dead end job...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Mcklain

    smart & cynical, just not for the free spirited me smart & cynical, just not for the free spirited me

  27. 5 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    Things you should know BEFORE you retire.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jay Philip

    I have read this sometime some six or seven years ago and I remember I was really entertained. While really I have ended up in the corporate environment where thankfully I have not felt the pretentiousness the author has unapologetically described in her book, yet at least it was good that there was this voice that opened this can of worms that most people would believe how things should work or at least pretend to believe so, when really, they are just Kafka-esque absurd. I don't know if i'd eve I have read this sometime some six or seven years ago and I remember I was really entertained. While really I have ended up in the corporate environment where thankfully I have not felt the pretentiousness the author has unapologetically described in her book, yet at least it was good that there was this voice that opened this can of worms that most people would believe how things should work or at least pretend to believe so, when really, they are just Kafka-esque absurd. I don't know if i'd ever return to this book but one thing for sure if you'd read this up, just don't get too absorbed by her ideas because while they were devastatingly funny and brilliant, you also can't help but feel that it was written at the height of her frustration against her employer.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Klein

    Amusing anecdotes if true.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Harvey

    - Corinne Maier, a senior economist at the French electricity giant Electricite' de France (E.d.F.) was due to be disciplined (following publication of this book) for "disloyalty to the company", and for reading a newspaper during a meeting; but public outcry frightened the company into changing their minds. - Maier's theory is: to succeed at work, forget about the hard work, forget about employee loyalty, forget about long hours, the secret is not to do more...it is to do less! "Only the lazy su - Corinne Maier, a senior economist at the French electricity giant Electricite' de France (E.d.F.) was due to be disciplined (following publication of this book) for "disloyalty to the company", and for reading a newspaper during a meeting; but public outcry frightened the company into changing their minds. - Maier's theory is: to succeed at work, forget about the hard work, forget about employee loyalty, forget about long hours, the secret is not to do more...it is to do less! "Only the lazy succeed!" - "A witty and subversive slacker's guide to the workplace." - a true story, translated from the original French - from New York Magazine: "Corinne Maier, an ennui-prone economic consultant for Electricite' de France in Paris, published a manifesto declaring the merits of showing up to one's job - but only pretending to do any work there.

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