I have friends who love to reminisce about the glory days of their youth. Not me. Don't get me wrong: send some old friends over with a few bottles of wine and there'll be plenty of BSing about the good-old days long into the wee hours.
The problem with that scene is that it always ends the same way. The sun comes up and, in the full light of day, all the illusion disappears and what's left is the cold hard reality that youth gets annoying after a while. That, and a nasty hangover.
Those of us who managed to grow up a little and take our adult responsibilities seriously realize that, along with all the fun and games were plenty of things we're not so proud of and would just as soon forget.
Bottom line: I wouldn't go back, not if you paid me big bucks. I like the fact that time and life follow the same trajectory: forward.
So I think I'm being at least somewhat objective when I say that, in my experience and admittedly selective memory, business used to be way more fun than it is now. Maybe I'm wrong, but everyone seems to be so much more stressed out these days, probably because we're constantly having to second-guess.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we should go back to the days of sexual harassment and racial discrimination. But you've got to admit; political correctness has gone way, way overboard to the point where you can no longer just compliment somebody and executives are afraid to have closed-door meetings. It's sad. Really.
Anyway, here's a laundry list of things I miss about business in the good-old days:
Flying. It used to be tolerable, if not downright enjoyable. That all went to hell after 9/11.
Burgers and fries without guilt.
Offices and bullpens. Cubicles suck. Period.
Showing affection. You could actually show genuine affection without looking creepy or getting sued.
If you built it, they came. Not to mention that we actually used to make things, once upon a time.
A million dollars was a lot of money.
Friday afternoon beer bashes. A high-tech industry tradition.
Confidentiality. You can't say anything anymore without it showing up on a tweet or a Facebook page.
Personal relationships. Besides having to be PC, everybody's so busy withwe don't have time to get to know each other, except in 140 characters or less.
The only thing you had to carry around was a pad and pen. Now you've got your laptop, smartphone, and of course, the ubiquitous bottle of water.
Talking. Remember, before email, when we used to actually talk and have hallway meetings?
Practical jokes. You could have a little good-natured fun with people at their expense. That's right, I said it, "at their expense." People didn't have such thin skin and didn't get offended at every little thing.
Smoking breaks. Yes, it's true. I used to smoke. And you know, those were great little snippets of relaxation in the middle of a tough day of meetings.
The media liked us. Hard to remember, but there was a time when the media didn't demonize corporate America.
Buying off customers. Okay, I don't strictly mean "buying" them off, but we used to have relationships with our customers, take them out, do stuff with them, that sort of thing.
Expensing all kinds of stuff. We used to be able to write off way more stuff on our taxes - corporate and personal. No more.
Drinking lunches. Admittedly, for the young, but still, it was fun once in a blue moon.
Okay, now I'm getting depressed. It's your turn: What do you miss about business in the good-old days or am I seeing the past through a tinted prism?