Offers it is possible to refuse

Dear Mr Worstall,

We are organising a conference which will bring thousands of people, on their expense accounts, to an “industry meeting” where they will pay $1,000 and up to us plus hotel bills to then be allowed to get pissed away from their wives. And, you know, sample the convention flesh.

We’d like you to be one of the speakers.

You’ll have to pay your own travel and hotel bill, meals and so on. Because it’s an honour that we allow you to speak at our conference.

Can we book you in?

And no, really, they’re serious.

19 comments on “Offers it is possible to refuse

  1. I suspect you’d jump at the chance to speak at the WEF so, come on, which organisation is so arrogant?

  2. ‘Because it’s an honour that we allow you to speak at our conference.’

    Spoken like someone who didn’t learn English first. Or they are jerks.

  3. BIND
    The Holiday Inn in Nuneaton. a B&B in Ventnor, who cares.
    An interesting scam which I’m sure will be taken up the next time the cruise industry hits the buffers. You pay to promote your book, evangelise about global warming or whatever, then the ship leaves and you’re stuck for a fortnight with a shedload of monomaniac bores, all of whom have fallen for the same bait.

  4. Those of us who are self-employed don’t have expense accounts, but we wonder what sort of idiot would sanction an expense account to pay for that.

  5. When I went from “permanent staff” to “consultant” (glamorous exaggeration) or “contracted temporary worker” (legal definition) I found it quite interesting what activities I felt were still worth (a) taking time off paid work for (when, instead of getting ‘special paid leave’ or charging it to Capability Development or Training budgets, I was losing a day’s pay for every day I wasn’t working) or (b) actually paying for myself as well as taking the time off.

    There’s a couple of activities that I’ve tagged along with at my own expense because the training or other value is worthwhile to me; my sideline as a dashing, handsome, courageous Navy officer is worth a fair bit to me both professionally and personally (well, I’m a Navy officer, anyway); but there’s a whole raft of stuff that used to be semi-mandatory “do this or it’ll look bad with Corporate” that I can now cuff off completely to focus on the job they’re paying me for.

    Even my professional institution, which isn’t generous, doesn’t expect me to work for free: I at least get a drink or two and anything from a packet of pork scratchings to a decent evening meal, for turning up for committee meetings, and while they expect me to donate my time, they pay basic expenses if they want me to travel or otherwise spend money on their behalf. (Don’t like it? Don’t volunteer…)

    I did pay to go to ISMOR last year (International Society for Military Operational Research) but that was partly because I’d offered a briefing while I was still permanent (so would have been paid for turning up and claimed the conference fee as expenses – once they’d accepted, it would have been rude to back out saying “I’m a contractor now”) and partly because it was both good drills and flattering to give what turned out to be a well-received brief, and interesting and useful to cover the other events.

    But “we’re charging rich idiots shitloads to turn up, get pissed and fail to score with the hot totty on their expense accounts, do you want to be a presenter entirely at your own expense so they can ignore your carefully-prepared words of wisdom while drunkenly pawing at the rent-a-babes?” is weapons-grade brass-necked fuckwittery even if there’s a certain grim honesty about it.

    It has shades of the Nigerian 419 scams – make it obvious enough that only the terminally gullible will fall for it and respond, so you don’t waste time on the credible but still sensible who’ll waste your time and then back out.

    I am also, I admit, perhaps a little jealous that nobody offered me this sort of opportunity (as guest not presenter) on the sort of nicely-titled headed paper that I could have run past the HR drones, back when I had expenses and that sort of thing…

  6. john77,
    The public sector, for example.

    Unless you’re getting free training or serious networking, most conferences aren’t worth the cost of a day out of the office. On the other hand when budgets are tight, you can fob off a junior employee’s request for training with a day ticket to a supplier’s sales-pitch conference instead.

  7. john77
    September 29, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    Those of us who are self-employed don’t have expense accounts, but we wonder what sort of idiot would sanction an expense account to pay for that.

    Sounds like a government convention to me. Got a friend of a friend (who’s Deputy Head of the local Health Department) gets these sorts of away junkets and conferences to meet and greet with members of other state and out-of-state health departments, lobbyists, and so on.

  8. @ Andrew M
    The last training course I was sent on (paid for by my employer) wasn’t worth the time out of the office and certainly wasn’t worth the weekend away from home in a 4* hotel. [When my head of department unexpectedly asked me for my opinion I told him so; the next year they hired a different set of academics to run a different course.]

  9. Tim, you should come to Kilkenomics in November. Its been described as either Davos with joke or Davos _without_ hookers.

  10. Of course there are events (as BiND says, WEF) where such an arrangement could be attractive as an opportunity to get your face and talents in front of many senior decision makers at once. I assume that (in Tim’s opinion, at least) this isn’t one such.

    I imagine (still waiting for my invite) that WEF speakers are handsomely remunerated (or, at least, generously expensed). But if you’re ever being addressed by someone who is paying for the privilege, it’s always worth asking yourself: what’s he selling? (This may also be true even if he isn’t being paid.)

  11. Chris,

    I’ve never seen a presentation by anyone (academic, professional or whatever) that wasn’t selling something. If you haven’t got things to sell, then you’re unlikley to have something to say.

  12. Jason Lynch,

    “When I went from “permanent staff” to “consultant” (glamorous exaggeration) or “contracted temporary worker” (legal definition) I found it quite interesting what activities I felt were still worth (a) taking time off paid work for (when, instead of getting ‘special paid leave’ or charging it to Capability Development or Training budgets, I was losing a day’s pay for every day I wasn’t working) or (b) actually paying for myself as well as taking the time off.”

    About the only “physical” thing I do now is local-ish workshops/get togethers/presentations. It’s good to meet other practitioners and exchange ideas and approaches. And that’s in a pub or a room for a couple of hours. Cost of those is maybe a train ride and a few pints.

    The weird thing for me is software people going off to conferences like MSDN. All the sessions are online. For free. I should know because I watch a few of them rather than spending $1500, flights and hotels. If I want to actually go to Barcelona, I’ll pay for a flight to Barcelona.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.