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Choose Your Poison: What You Can (and Can’t) Decide at Work, by Robert Goldman

Choose Your Poison: What You Can (and Can’t) Decide at Work, by Robert Goldman

Before we begin today’s sermonette, let’s find a place in our hearts for James Gorman, the CEO of Morgan Stanley, who recently saw his 2022 pay slashed to $31.5 million. According to an article by Prarthana Prakash in Fortune, this represents a 10% reduction from the CEO’s 2021 compensation of $35 million.


I certainly hope Gorman will manage to compensate for the salary drop, but, as we know, cutting costs is never easy. I hate to think of him nibbling on foie gras from Trader Joe’s and replacing Chateau Lafite with Two Buck Chuck. And then there is the emotional part of the deal — surely, he is haunted by the fact that for the first time since 2019, the Morgan Stanley CEO was paid less than someone who I assume is an archenemy, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Double ouch!

Now that we are finished feeling sorry for James Gorman, we still have a few column inches left to express our rage and revulsion at the CEO’s recent comment to Bloomberg News concerning an employee’s right to work from home.

“Employees can’t simply choose to work remotely,” Gorman said. “They don’t get to choose their compensation, they don’t get to choose their promotion, and they don’t get to choose to stay home five days a week.”

The Morgan Stanley CEO’s desire to keep his employees close is nothing new. In the summer of 2021, when COVID-19 fears not only had us working from home, but also working under the bed, Gorman said that if workers did not return to the office by September, he would be “very disappointed.”

Heaven knows what it would take to assuage Gorman’s disappointment, but I imagine public scourging would be a step in the right direction.

If Morgan Stanley employees were not willing to listen to their fearless leader in 2021, the COVID-19 virus was all ears. The omicron variant went right to work at offices all across the country, while employees stayed home, safe, if not sound. With new variants still turning up for work every day, it would not be an overstatement to predict that the rush to return to the office will be muted.

Lest you think we are kicking Gorman when he is down (down some $3.5 million by my calculation), reporter Prakash writes that “banks have been among the most aggressive in pushing for in-person work.” This is surprising, since banks are usually so caring and sympathetic.

Thanks to Gorman, we now know what his employees can’t choose. This leaves the question of what employees at your company can choose.

It’s not all bleak. For example:

No. 1: When attaching two pieces of paper together, you can choose whether to use a staple or a paper clip.

Choosing between staples and paper clips is a basic human right. Since the Constitution is on one sheet of paper, we’ll never know which the Founders would have chosen, but you can be sure they would have written it into the Bill of Rights if they had thought about it, or if staples had been invented by 1791.

No. 2: You can choose whether to have your coffee with or without caramel macchiato coffee creamer.

This is a choice exclusively available for those who work at home. Due to the new austerity that has ended free lunches and canceled free, on-site Reiki sessions, coffee creamer at the office has been replaced with oobleck, and as everyone knows, oobleck only comes in vanilla.

No. 3: On weekends you’re supposed to have off, you can choose whether to work Saturday or Sunday.

Of course, you know the best choice: work Saturday and Sunday. And sleep in the office in between.

No. 4: You can choose your wastepaper basket (as long as it’s a color that works with the company’s design palette.)

Any color is acceptable, except mauve. CEOs hate mauve.

No. 5: You can choose to quit.

You can even choose to work at Morgan Stanley. If management continues to channel Gorthaur the Cruel, there will be plenty of job openings, guaranteed.

In the meantime, why not skip the entire remote/office kerfuffle? Invite your co-workers to work at your house. Considering all the people who will be jammed into your bedroom, there will be plenty of opportunities for the “in-person interactions” James Gorman believes are so important.

You might also send a few Benjamins to CEO Gorman. It could save him from the embarrassment of asking Jamie Dimon for a loan.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: 12019 at Pixabay

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