Tag Archives: The Management Secrets of T. John Dick

The Broadway Hotel Approach to Bad Reviews

21 Nov

It’s a well deserved performance bonus to the management of the Broadway Hotel in Blackpool for their outside the box thinking on dealing with bad reviews on Trip Advisor.

According to the BBC, the small print in their booking form contains the following innovative wording:
“Despite the fact that repeat customers and couples love our hotel, your friends and family may not.
“For every bad review left on any website, the group organiser will be charged a maximum £100 per review.”

A glance at the hotel’s page at Trip Advisor affords a glimpse of how the hotel is viewed by travelers. ““Fawlty Towers it’s not – at least that looked clean” is one of the less derogatory comments. The words “filthy,” “disgusting” and “hotel inspector” pop out from the page.

Two of these travelers were Tony and Jan Jenkinson, whose forthright description of the hotel began by calling it a “filthy, dirty rotten stinking hovel run by muppets” and concluded with the observation, “If you are offered this place to stay for a fortnight for 10p, you are being robbed!!” Tony and Jan were rewarded for their diligence in warning fellow travelers with an unexpected charge of £100 on their credit card bill, on top of the £36 that their one night stay cost (I think most stays are one night).

Oh, Tony and Jan – why didn’t you read the small print?

Outside the box thinking

When asked about this unusual policy, a tongue-in-cheek John Greenbank, North Trading Standards Area Manager, said it was a “novel” way to prevent bad reviews. But I think Mr. Greenbank has got it all wrong. At £100 per bad review, why on earth would the Broadway Hotel’s owners wish to prevent them? Under this ingenious business plan, the more bad reviews they get, the more their profits soar. This is exactly the kind of outside the box thinking that British business so often lacks. As I write this there are 146 “Terrible” reviews on Trip Advisor. That’s £14,600. That’s not to mention the 24 “Poor” reviews for which, I think we can agree, management would be entirely justified in charging at least eighty quid each.

What’s good for the Broadway, however, is not so good for others. It is a feature of Trip Advisor that, when you select a particular hotel, a new window opens with the title “Similar hotels.” My heart goes out to the Kings Hotel, the By the Beach Hotel and the intriguingly named Sinatra’s Hotel, all of which popped up in this window of shame. Given their generally positive reviews, they do not deserve such ignominy.

My New Review Policy

All of this gives me an idea. Taking a leaf out of the Broadway Hotel’s check-in register, I intend to implement a similar policy to squash unwelcome and unflattering reviews of my books. The following policy will be displayed prominently on this website and printed in the books.

“Despite the fact that my wife quite liked my book and my mother said she supposed it was alright, if you liked that kind of thing, you and other tasteless bozos like you may not like it. For every bad review left on any website the reviewer will be charged a maximum of £100 or $156 per review.”

It is a source of great regret that I can’t think of a way to apply the policy retrospectively to people like “Emily” who started her Amazon review of The Rise and Fall of T. John Dick with disarming frankness by stating, “I hated this book,” and proceeded to give it one star, despite adding that the author was “a strong writer” and it was in fact the main character that she didn’t like. Those are pretty words, Ms. Henlein, but you still gave it one star. That will be $156 please. No, just a minute – you also posted the review to Goodreads and Library Thing. That will be $468 altogether. A check will be fine, thanks. Contact me for my mailing address.

A year or so ago, I told readers about Haziq, the fourteen year old boy in Malaysia who awarded one star to The Management Secrets of T. John Dick at Goodreads. The experience of reading my book appears to have soured him on the whole reading thing, so that one year on, this is still the only book he has ever read. Time to stump up, Haziq, and yes we accept Malaysian ringgits.

Of course, it won’t be as easy to implement this policy as it was for the Broadway. Except for those who purchase from this website, I don’t actually have access to credit card data. However, I am working on an email to Amazon right now. I’m sure they will be interested in this new revenue stream, from which they will demand a hefty cut.

And you can rest assured that, in order to make the most of this exciting new income opportunity, I will be careful to ensure that any books I write in the future will be even worse than those I have produced to date. Are you ready, Emily?


A note to anyone completely lacking a sense of humor. First, what a nice surprise to see you here! Second, I am not serious, I will not really charge you for a bad review. I feel it is important to make this clear to you as you belong to the group of readers most likely to leave such a review.


T. John Dick and the Dunning-Kruger Effect

22 Jan
"T. John Dick - A Case Study of the Dunning-Kruger Effect in the American Workplace" (Minimum order 500 copies)

“T. John Dick – A Case Study of the Dunning-Kruger Effect in the American Workplace”
(Minimum order 500 copies)

Since they first appeared, my books have been seen by readers and reviewers as an illustration of the famous Peter Principle. This principle, advanced by Laurence J. Peter in his book, The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong, co-authored with Raymond Hull, holds that people will eventually be promoted to their level of incompetence.

Well, I’m not so sure about that, for two reasons.

Firstly it presupposes a certain level of competence beyond which the manager has been promoted. While the novels do not provide any insight into T. John Dick’s early corporate career (Do I hear calls for a prequel? No? Oh well.), there is little in his character to suggest previous competence.

Secondly, and more importantly, the Peter Principle was outlined in a humorous book. This makes it unsuitable as a basis for the proposal I am about to make.

Before I get to that proposal, let me draw your attention to the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Heard of it? If so, that makes you a bit of a smarty-pants. The kind of smarty-pants that reads the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, in which David Dunning and Justin Kruger of the Department of Psychology at Cornell University published their research. Or at least someone who knows how to look them up on Wikipedia.

Dunning and Kruger suggested that incompetent people tend to think that they are actually pretty awesome and conversely those with a high level of competence tend to underestimate their level of skill in comparison with others.

They were not the first to realize this. In fact, in their paper, they quoted Charles Darwin : “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” Or as Bertrand Russell put it: “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Also, this phenomenon is blindingly obvious to anyone who has ever worked in an office. It’s why the blurb on the back of The Rise and Fall of T. John Dick begins, “Nobody has more confidence in the abilities of marketing executive T. John Dick than TJ himself.”

But Dunning and Kruger went further. First of all, they proved it scientifically with a proper experiment and everything. Secondly, they added some additional observations. Let’s take a closer look.

For a given skill, incompetent people will:

1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill
2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others
3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy
4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they are exposed to training for that skill

Number 4 is quite interesting, in that it suggests that there is sometimes hope for the incompetent. Perhaps something to explore in the next T. John Dick adventure. The first three, on the other hand, are embodied in TJ to such an extent that he might almost be a case study.

"T. John Dick - Another Case Study of the Dunning-Kruger Effect in the American Workplace" (You really need this one too)

“T. John Dick – Another Case Study of the Dunning-Kruger Effect in the American Workplace”
(Serious students need this one too)

Which leads me to the proposal I mentioned earlier. It seems to me that I have been missing out on the lucrative academic market.*  How many thousands of copies could be sold if prescribed as course material for psychology students? I’m guessing the answer is lots of thousands. So I’m asking all the psychology professors amongst my readership to think about how we might do business. I’m sure we could work out something that would benefit us both, if you get my meaning.

I’m quite open to changing the name of the academic edition to “T. John Dick – A Case Study of the Dunning-Kruger Effect in the American Workplace,” or some other eggheaded title of your choice.

You know how to reach me.

* – Not missing out completely. The Management Secrets of T. John Dick has occasionally been purchased by inattentive curators of university business departments – the University of Trinidad and Tobago, for instance, has two copies.

PS: For anyone interested in finding out more about the Dunning-Kruger effect, here’s a link to an interesting article at Ars Technica.

The Management Secrets of T. John Dick Kindle Version on Sale at Amazon.co.uk

9 Dec

3d Cover TJ1 Cleaned TallAs part of my continuing drive to bring crucial, cutting edge literature to the masses, Kindle owners in the UK have a great chance to snap up The Management Secrets of T. John Dick for only £0.99 thanks to a Kindle Countdown deal. In three days the price goes up to £1.99 – still a heck of a bargain – before returning to its regular price of £3.08 on Monday, December 16th.

If you are one of the masses, or even just think you might be a mass, this is the opportunity of a lifetime to score some cheap culture, with which to amaze your friends..

Here’s the link to the Amazon UK page for this outstanding deal.

Banned in the UK – Or be careful what you wish for!

15 Oct

BannedOn October 2nd, I announced that I had taken the unusual step of banning my own book, The Management Secrets of T. John Dick. Having seen all the hoop-la surrounding Banned Books Week, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t get in on the act too.

Since then, some readers have suggested, rather unkindly, that this was nothing but a cheap publicity stunt. My ban applied to Barnes & Noble (excluding ebooks), and I provided a convenient link to their website for any skeptics to check it out for themselves. They will have seen that I spoke the truth, and the observation by some trouble-makers and haters of great literature that the books had never actually been on sale there in the first place in no way invalidates my claim that they are not on sale there now.

Be that as it may, I am pleased to announce that both The Management Secrets of T. John Dick and The Rise and Fall of T. John Dick have now been banned in the UK, and this time it’s not me doing the banning. The e-book versions of both titles for Kobo e-readers had only recently gone on sale there. Kobo also makes their e-books available to retail partners, such as the UK’s biggest bookstore chain, W.H. Smith. A story in the Daily Mail newspaper pointed out that various loathful pornographic e-books involving rape, incest and more can be purchased from the Kobo store and consequently also from W.H. Smith. In response, Kobo has stopped selling most if not all e-books from small or self-publishers in the UK. We have been banned! For real! Take that, skeptics! If you don’t believe me, check out Kobo’s UK website. The books are no longer there.

Actually, the skeptics will have a bit of a hard time checking it out. You can only get to Kobo’s UK website from a UK IP address. Skeptics from the US* will be redirected to the US website, which will jolly well serve them right. On the other hand, thanks to my extensive network of contacts in the UK**, I was able to access the UK site and confirm the banning. You skeptics will just have to take my word for it, which will also serve you right.

Meanwhile, W. H. Smith has gone further, taking down their whole website! Amazon, on the other hand has simply removed the offending titles and promised to continue their efforts to filter out this kind of stuff, so great literature junkies who simply can’t wait to get their digital fix of my ground-breaking books have only to trash their Kobo in a fit of rage and fork out  a few quid for a Kindle.

For anyone wanting to learn more about the whole story, I recommend a visit to a post on the subject at David Gaughran’s excellent blog

* – There are no skeptics in the UK. They have sceptics instead. Sceptics will have no problem accessing Kobo’s UK website.

** – Thanks, Mum.

The Turd Moment in Evelyn Waugh Novels…

12 Oct

… in which I compare myself to one of the greatest writers in the English language.

I have been reading a collection of four novels by Evelyn Waugh and very much enjoying them. The first three are the satirical novels Black Mischief, Scoop and The Loved One, and reading them one after the other has led me to an intriguing discovery. There comes a time in each of these novels when the chap you thought you were going to like turns out to be a bit of a turd. In Scoop, it’s when William Root behaves like an ass to everyone on his return to England. In Black Mischief, it happens very early – you find the character of Basil Seal amusing, but he soon becomes tiresome and just obnoxious. In The Loved One, it takes quite a bit longer. It’s not until the poet Dennis expresses the motives behind his intention to marry Aimee that you become aware that you are confronted by yet another Waugh turd.

Waugh seems totally immune to developing any affection for his characters. This doesn’t stop the books from being funny – often hilarious – and this detachment might allow him to wield his satirical scalpel with greater precision. However, I can’t help wondering if the novels would not be even more satisfying if there were a sympathetic character in there somewhere for us to engage with – if we could root for Root, for instance. Without this, he comes across as a misanthropic PG Wodehouse.

Although I very much admire Waugh’s style, I could never write like him. One reason for this of course, is that, well, he’s Evelyn Waugh, but another is that I end up growing fond of my characters, no matter how ridiculous they are. The fact is, despite his many, many failings, I like T. John Dick, and I’m sure this comes across in the stories. There are plenty of other sympathetic characters too, of course, such as the Ostrich, Rich, Greg, Hans Kartoffel, Clayton Sipe and even Grace, with whom I would enjoy hanging out – as well as the occasional turd, like Ray Hacker and Aaron Fink. I can’t think of any character of Waugh’s whose company I would enjoy, at least not in these three books. The fourth novel in the volume The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold is completely different and features a character with whom one can certainly sympathize – a fictionalized version of Waugh himself, but that is a whole different post.

By this time, you are probably thinking, “Who does this Gump fellow think he is? He starts off talking about Evelyn Waugh and ends up comparing him with himself!” I agree, but a cat may look at a king, as the old saying goes, and with the benefit of feline eyesight, notice the odd pimple upon the royal visage. Despite this, of course, the king is still a good deal more handsome than the mangy old cat.

Banned – The Management Secrets of T. John Dick

2 Oct

BannedIn a controversial move that is thought to be an industry first, The Management Secrets of T. John Dick has been banned by it’s author. That’s right, I’m banning my own book. Effective immediately, The Management Secrets of T. John Dick will not be available at the Barnes & Noble website (except the e-book edition for Nook).

Those who find it incredible that an author would ban his own book are invited to check out the Barnes & Noble website for themselves. It’s not there, see?

Why am I doing this? Well, amid the publicity for Banned Books Week, which has just finished, I couldn’t help but notice how many classics have been banned by someone at some time or another. The Great Gatsby, Women in Love, To Kill a Mockingbird, Captain Underpants … it’s a long list. As a literary giant, I feel that my books certainly deserve to be banned at least as much as them, and if nobody else is going to do it, I’ll just have to do it myself.  Great authors are self-publishing these days; self-banning seems like a logical extension of the trend.

Of course, I’m not going to take this lying down. I’m outraged at my crude and heavy-handed attempt at censorship of my work. I will not be silenced by the abhorrent tactics of Philistines like me. As I fight this injustice, I appreciate your messages of support. Together we must take a stand against my all-out assault on free speech and artistic expression.

If we don’t stop this now, what will be next to be banned? The Rise and Fall of T. John Dick? I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

Show Dad what you think of him

19 May

It’s Father’s Day on June 16th, and what better way to show your dad exactly what you think of him than by the gift of his very own copy of “The Management Secrets of T. John Dick” or “The Rise and Fall of T. John Dick?” Or both.

Laughing BuffoonMany dads work in an office, or have done in the past, or know someone who once did. Or they may have visited an office at some time in their life. All compelling reasons to believe that your gift will soon have him chuckling away contentedly and so engrossed in the story that he will turn down your invitation to take him out for dinner, thus saving you valuable dollars. That’s right – buying this book for your old man will actually save you money

Love is priceless, of course, but my books are not. Conscious that the going rate for displays of filial affection is somewhere between eight and ten dollars, the moneygrubbers over at Mainland Press are offering a $2 per book discount until Father’s Day. That is on top of the existing 20% discount and free shipping by US mail, so it’s a heck of a deal. If you’re not convinced, a quick look at the figures should do the trick. You can convey $12.95 of esteem in the form of “The Management Secrets of T. John Dick” for only $8.36, or cheer up the old codger with a copy of “The Rise and Fall of T. John Dick” with a price of $13.95 proudly displayed on the cover. Only you will know that it only cost $9.16.

To take advantage of this offer, just go to the “Books” section of this website and click on the link to add your chosen volume(s) to your cart. At checkout, enter the coupon code “TJ for Dad.”

There’s only one condition. You have to promise the book is really for Dad. No cheating now.

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