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Schwartz, Gil 1951–

Schwartz, Gil 1951–

(Stanley Bing, Gil Stanley Bing Schwartz)

PERSONAL:

Born 1951, in IL; children: Nina, Will. Education: Brandeis University, B.A.

ADDRESSES:

Home—New York, NY.

CAREER:

Writer. Columbia Broadcast System, currently senior vice president in charge of communications.

WRITINGS:

UNDER PSEUDONYM STANLEY BING

Biz Words: Power Talk for Fun and Profit, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Crazy Bosses: Spotting Them, Serving Them, Surviving Them, Morrow (New York, NY), 1992.

Lloyd—What Happened: A Novel of Business, Crown (New York, NY), 1998.

What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.

Throwing the Elephant: Zen and the Art of Managing Up, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2002.

The Big Bing: Black Holes of Time Management, Gaseous Executive Bodies, Exploding Careers, and Other Theories on the Origins of the Business Universe, HarperBusiness (New York, NY), 2003.

You Look Nice Today (novel), Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2003.

Sun Tzu Was a Sissy: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Friends, and Wage the Real Art of War, HarperBusiness (New York, NY), 2004.

100 Bullshit Jobs: And How to Get Them, Collins (New York, NY), 2006.

Rome, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the First Multinational Corporation, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2006.

Former columnist, Esquire magazine; currently columnist for Fortune magazine.

SIDELIGHTS:

Under the pseudonym Stanley Bing, television executive Gil Schwartz satirizes the American corporate world as a business magazine columnist, as well as in book-length works. In his first book, Biz Words: Power Talk for Fun and Profit, Schwartz offers a sly handbook to business terminology that is "really an ethics guide in disguise," according to Joan Warner in Business Week. Remarking on the inclusion of entries under such commonplace terms as "conversation," "drinks," and "briefcase," O. Gene Norman dryly concluded in his American Reference Books Annual review that "this book should be read for its wit and irreverent style rather than for a brief definition."

Similarly, Schwartz's second book, Crazy Bosses: Spotting Them, Serving Them, Surviving Them, is ostensibly a reference work that defines the various types of bosses and offers humorous analyses of appropriate behavior for underlings. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly considered the first half of this book "a thoughtful, provocative examination of corporate culture," but was caught off guard by the irreverence of the second half of the book. Here, for instance, Schwartz advises readers to be insincere and "suck up" to certain types of bosses. Though Library Journal contributor Todd Yaeger agreed that the author's striving for humorous effects can make it difficult to follow the organization of his book, the reviewer admitted that the author concludes each chapter "with concrete strategies to cope with each type of crazy boss."

With Lloyd—What Happened: A Novel of Business Schwartz branches out into fiction while retaining his satiric focus on the world of business. In this work, a typical mid-level business executive on the rise becomes less and less human as he becomes more and more successful implementing the company's layoff plans in order to prepare for a big merger. A critic for Kirkus Reviews called this "a tour de farce that both reviles and celebrates the pretentious, treacherous, and luxurious world of corporate middle management." Though more episodic than plot-driven, Lloyd was praised for its dead-on depictions of such business pitfalls as endless meetings that accomplish nothing and booze-soaked business trips; critics especially liked the inclusion of charts and graphs with titles such as "The Battle for Lloyd's Soul," and "Percent of Lloyd's Bosses Displaying Insane Behavior." "This is by far the funniest material in the book," averred Joe Queenan in the New York Times Book Review. Queenan also commented that the young Kurt Vonnegut used such "sleight-of-hand tricks" as charts and graphs in a work of fiction. In an Internet interview with Harry C. Edwards on Amazon.com, the author described his protagonist, Lloyd, as "very much like you or me. A person who tries to be good most of the time, except when he doesn't really want to. Likes to have a drink. Likes to have friends where he works. Doesn't want it to be in a cold, unappealing environment where it's just all about ‘business,’ whatever ‘business’ is. I don't think any of us really know what that is."

Responding to an interview question from MediaBistro.com contributor Dorian Benkoil about his reasons for writing pseudonymously, Schwartz explained: "Well, for a long while I was hidden completely, and it was really terrific." The author further said: "When I was a kid, I always loved stuff about guys with secret identities. Zorro in particular. Big nerd by day. Guy in a silky black cape at night, flying through windows, saving people, being sort of dangerous and legendary. This was as close as I could get to that. I was younger, and didn't understand at that time how splendid senior management generally is. I settled scores. I reported on people's weirdness without endangering them or betraying them in any way. Nobody knew who I was. People used to send me my own column with a little note at the top saying, ‘I think you'll enjoy this. It sounds like you.’ I'd send it back to them with another buckslip on top that said, ‘Stop bothering me with this crap.’"

By the time his fourth book was published, however, such anonymity no longer existed, yet Schwartz continued to write under his pen name. With What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness he delivered the "ultimate guide to corporate backstabbing," according to Entertainment Weekly reviewer A.J. Jacobs, who also called it "nasty, brutish, short—and exceedingly amusing." For G.A. Marken, writing in Public Relations Quarterly, What Would Machiavelli Do? offers "a generous dose of tongue-in-cheek reality," with "just the right blend of satire and truth." Marken clarified Schwartz's message: "The rich and powerful executives aren't smarter, faster or better looking than you are—they are simply meaner." An employee, therefore, must employ the guile of a Machiavelli to survive the corporation. Similarly, Michele Orecklin described What Would Machiavelli Do? in Time as a "sardonic primer on workplace ruthlessness."

In Throwing the Elephant: Zen and the Art of Managing Up Schwartz again looks at the contrariness of bosses, presenting what Time contributor Richard Stengel called a "a wry 21st century courtier's manual that irreverently harnesses the wisdom of the ancient Zen masters." For the author corporate CEOs are the elephants of the title. Booklist contributor David Siegfried called this send-up "essential reading for anyone who hates his or her boss and the corporate structure in general." Schwartz next gathered together two decades of magazine writing in The Big Bing: Black Holes of Time Management, Gaseous Executive Bodies, Exploding Careers, and Other Theories on the Origins of the Business Universe. The essays, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, add up to a "very funny look at the contemporary executive." Library Journal contributor Carol J. Elsen predicted that "this book will have readers rolling in the aisles."

Schwartz turns his hand to fiction again with You Look Nice Today, "a story of sexual harassment that's not about sex," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who called the book a "sardonic, entertaining legal thriller" as well as "a great read." Corporate executive Robert Harbert takes a young female employee under his protective wing, only to have her later sue him and his corporation for sexual harassment, the result of her deranged imagination. Harbert's life is at first totally ruined by the allegations, but as the subsequent trial progresses he undergoes a rebirth and transformation. Hugo Lindgren, writing in the New York Times Book Review, declared the novel to be "witty and smartly observed."

Schwartz once again humorously questions business management ideals in Sun Tzu Was a Sissy: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Friends, and Wage the Real Art of War. Here, with tongue in cheek, he debunks the famous Japanese war theorist who imparted wisdom that has since been incorporated into many business management books. A reviewer for Law Firm Inc. described this work as a "retort to the clueless planners of business school curricula who use the teachings of great war strategists like Clausewiltz, Sherman and Sun Tzu as guides for the corporate moguls of tomorrow."

The author's corporate writings take a historical turn with Rome, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the First Multinational Corporation. Here, Schwartz compares the Roman Empire to a vast corporate empire with wily CEOs such as Julius Caesar leading it. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Tara McKelvey complained that this book "follows in the tradition of self-help/business books that are characterized by flimsy data, padded writing and terminally cute titles," and went on to wonder "why anyone would read this book." Reviewing the same work in the New York Times, however, William Grimes agreed that Schwartz, "on occasion, plays fast and loose with facts," though the "funny parts [of the book] … are very funny." Grimes further observed: "Mr. Bing takes off on some inspired flights. And his chronicle of Rome's decline is undeniably poignant." More praise came from a Publishers Weekly reviewer who called the book "a slim, wildly entertaining satire for businessmen."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Advertising Age, November 1, 2004, review of Sun Tzu Was a Sissy: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Friends, and Wage the Real Art of War, p. 2.

American Reference Books Annual, 1991, O. Gene Norman, review of Biz Words: Power Talk for Fun and Profit, p. 62.

Automotive Design & Production, April, 2002, Gary S. Vasilash, review of Throwing the Elephant: Zen and the Art of Managing Up, p. 28.

Booklist, March 15, 1998, review of Lloyd—What Happened: A Novel of Business; March 15, 2002, David Siegfried, review of Throwing the Elephant, p. 1195; September 15, 2003, Kathleen Hughes, review of You Look Nice Today, p. 208.

Business Record (Des Moines, IA), November 23, 2003, review of The Big Bing: Black Holes of Time Management, Gaseous Executive Bodies, Exploding Careers, and Other Theories on the Origins of the Business Universe, p. 23.

Business Week, May 29, 1989, Joan Warner, review of Biz Words, p. 16.

Corporate Counsel, April, 2000, Anthony Paonita, review of What Would Machiavelli Do? The Ends Justify the Meanness, p. 33; January, 2003, Helen Coster, review of You Look Nice Today.

Entertainment Weekly, February 25, 2000, A.J. Jacobs, review of What Would Machiavelli Do?, p. 76.

ETC, winter, 2000, Martin H. Levinson, review of What Would Machiavelli Do?, p. 502.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 1998, review of Lloyd—What Happened; May 11, 1998, review of Lloyd—What Happened; July 1, 2003, review of You Look Nice Today, p. 869; September 1, 2003, review of The Big Bing, p. 1108; February 1, 2006, review of Rome, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the First Multinational Corporation, p. 118.

Law Firm Inc., December, 2004, review of Sun Tzu Was a Sissy.

Library Journal, January, 1992, Todd Yaeger, review of Crazy Bosses: Spotting Them, Serving Them, Surviving Them, p. 148; March 5, 2002, Lucy Heckman, review of Throwing the Elephant, p. 90; September 1, 2003, Carol J. Elsen, review of The Big Bing, p. 179; October 15, 2003, Sheila Riley, review of You Look Nice Today, p. 95.

Newsweek, April 27, 1992, review of Crazy Bosses, p. 61.

New York Times, March 18, 2006, William Grimes, review of Rome, Inc.

New York Times Book Review, May 3, 1998, Joe Queenan, review of Lloyd—What Happened, p. 12; September 14, 2003, Hugo Lindgren, review of You Look Nice Today, p. 25; April 9, 2006, Tara McKelvey, review of Rome, Inc., p. 16.

People, October 27, 2003, Michelle Tauber, review of You Look Nice Today, p. 48.

Public Relations Quarterly, summer, 2004, G.A. Marken, review of What Would Machiavelli Do?, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly, November 29, 1991, review of Crazy Bosses, p. 40; February 18, 2002, review of Throwing the Elephant, p. 91; July 21, 2003, review of The Big Bing, p. 181, and Theodore Kinni, "Funny Business," interview with Gil Schwartz, p. 182; August 4, 2003, review of You Look Nice Today, p. 53; February 6, 2006, review of Rome, Inc., p. 54.

Time, January 1, 2000, Michele Orecklin, review of What Would Machiavelli Do?, p. 110; April 8, 2002, Richard Stengel, review of Throwing the Elephant, p. 76; October 13, 2003, Lev Grossman, review of You Look Nice Today, p. 81.

ONLINE

Amazon.com,http://www.amazon.com/ (July 28, 1998), Harry C. Edwards, "A Conversation with Stanley Bing."

Fortune Online,http://www.timeinc.net/fortune/ (March 19, 2007), "Fortune Staff Bio: Stanley Bing, Columnist."

MediaBistro.com,http://www.mediabistro.com/ (March 22, 2006), Dorian Benkoil, "Q & A: Gil Schwartz/Stanley Bing."

MediaVillage.com,http://www.mediavillage.com/ (March 15, 2004), Jack Meyers, "CBS' Gil Schwartz: The Original Bada Bing."

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