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An Interview with Frank Willison, Our Boss

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This was from some friends in O’Reilly back around 1996. It was on the web for a while but has since disappeared sadly.


An Interview with Frank Willison, Our Boss

Frank Willison: a man, a plan, a canal, Panama. The Under 30 Club went to him, not in search of understanding, but for recognition of our own needs and plans. He responded to the interview questions within two hours of their receipt: alarming alacrity, as anyone who has worked with Frank can attest. We can only presume he fears us, as he rightly should.

Kiersten Nauman’s interview questions appear in italics; Frank Willison’s responses, in plain text.


How do you feel about working with people who are closer in age to your 15-year-old son than they are to you?

First, let me say “Thanks” to the U30s for extending this opportunity to me. It puts me in mind of more traditional societies, in which younger members of the group look to their elders for wisdom and guidance. My sage advice to you is, “Next time, pick a better elder.”

It pleases me to know that people of a youthful persuasion are able to find work. I especially appreciate it in light of the comparison to my son, for I hope that he, too, will soon find some old manager willing to drop some serious corporate bucks on him.

If you could go back, would you decide to hire members of your own burnt-out generation, instead of the members of the Under 30 club?

Good question. My generation has many virtues as employees. Mostly, they already know that employment is cruel and they have low expectations of managers. Some of them have been teachers and social workers, so they know what low self-esteem really is. Working here looks pretty good compared to employment in the helping professions.

Your peppy little generation, though, well, it has virtues, too. Almost any job pays better than going to college, for which, I’m told, some people actually pay fees called tuition. And you have energy and ideas. I used to have energy and ideas, and I found it enjoyable. So I appreciate energy and ideas in the abstract, as a virtue, though I have gotten used to doing without them. I used to have knees that bent, too, but I’ve gotten over that too.

I’ll bet you’d like to have the Under 30 Club over to your house for dinner.

You betcha.

Trouble is, though, I can never figure out what your U30 types eat. It’s vegan, or lacto-ovarian, or nothing-with-a-face, or anything-with-echanacia-oil. I chow down mainly on the larger mammals and tuberous vegetables.

Following your dancing to “YMCA” at the company holiday party, are you, in fact, suffering from Repetitive Strain Booty?

I saved myself by alterating between spelling “YMCA” and “YWCA,” thus being non-repetitive. I know several other O40s were disabled by trying to toss off some moves dimly remembered from their psychedelic period. I think in several cases, in fact, the dancers may have been attempting moves that they remember seeing, rather than actually performing. And in one particular case (professional courtesy prevents me from naming names), I think some spell-checking was in order.

How would you respond to a proposal for a book chronicling the Under 30 experience?

Is it a Nutshell? If U30s run under NT, that would also be a plus. You guys don’t know about royalties, do you? Nobody told you about royalties, did they?

Finally, what are your opinions on our secret plan to take over the company?

Your plans are far from secret. Most of you can barely control your swagger.

When the time comes, and the U30 barbarians are pounding at the gates, I intend to take it like a gentleman. Leave me in my office with my service revolver…

But remember: someday my kids will be U30s, and you guys will be the irregular, sagging, gumless ones. Prepare for the day…