The Working World

Dealing with Corporate Bullshit the Aaron Clarey Way Versus the Right Way

I do not know how authentic Aaron Clarey is. For the following, I therefore take his online videos at face value and assume that he is not deliberately putting up a false front. If you have some familiarity with his work, you may know that he quit a commercial banking gig and since then gets by on a mix of via various income sources: online consulting, book sales, online courses, and, I think, ballroom dancing lessons.

Aaron Clarey is quick to berate corporate America, dumb coworkers, and backstabbing bosses. What I find fascinating about his vitriol is that it seems so myopic. In that regard, it reminds me of a post by Roosh V, that incompetent pick-up artist who is now styling himself as some kind of ‘red pill’ guru. In one of Roosh’s posts you can read that a doctor making six figures is a “loser” because he works for other people, and also because he works so many hours. On the other hand, a “digital nomad” can get buy on a lot less and also “smash prime pussy” at a younger age. I’m probably caricaturing Roosh’s post. Yet, the key part was that he made the claim that he’d rather be Roosh V the non-doctor than Dr. V the non-Roosh. If anything, this strikes me as sour grapes, given Roosh’s rather modest academic background, meaning that medical school was not in the cards, not by a long shot.

With Aaron Clarey, the situation is a bit different, but nonetheless roughly comparable. He went to a middling school and got a job at a commercial bank. This is not a high-flying career. Yet, Aaron Clarey has a very high opinion of himself. This is where sour grapes come into play as well. If you have read Clarey’s “Curse of the High IQ”, you may have learned that he considers basically the entire world to be beneath him. Yet, if people are so stupid, and he could do “a day’s work in two hours”, then why couldn’t he advance in his job? What is more: if he’s that smart, then why didn’t he get into a better school? You could now say that he may not have gotten support from his parents, or didn’t get relevant information, which made him enroll at a middling school. Yet, as a stellar student from a mediocre university, he would certainly have ticked a few “diversity” boxes for the admission committees at a Top 20 school, meaning that he could have transferred, or gotten a Master’s and then entered a more interesting career.

Clarey’s problem is that he is pissed off at the world when he should be pissed off with himself. Even if you have one bad boss, if you do good work, your superiors will want to keep you happy. Sure, you will encounter colossal bullshit, like women getting a management role as a reward for poor performance when a guy would instead get the booth. That kind of bullshit is unfortunately part of life in the Western world. You can be upset about it, or you keep your head down and jump ship at an appropriate point in time. I know the kind of (false) pride Clarey must have felt in the working world. I made a few rather bad decisions myself because of it, and I wish someone would have explained the ‘real’ rules of the working world to me, instead of having to learn them via trial and error. Still, you can maintain your dignity, which is due to the fact that you can leave and get a better job. You’re as good as you think you are, right? Okay, then go prove it!

In any case, Clarey’s ire against supposedly incompetent bosses is completely misguided. How do you think your boss gets evaluated? They also have their performance reviews. This means that your contribution influences their standing in the company. As a simple example, let’s say one of the metrics you are evaluated on is the amount of money you bring in. If you generate more than X$, you get a bonus. If your boss supervises a team of ten people, he may have a goal like generate 10X$/year. Likely his number won’t be an exact multiple to account for variation in individual performance and economic uncertainty, but that is irrelevant for my point. Instead, the take-away is that your boss is happy when you do a good job. Thus, it is in his best interest to keep you happy and to ensure that you can do good work. It’s a clear win-win. This is at least how it tends to work in jobs in which you don’t wear a uniform with a name tag. Surely, if we were talking about unskilled work when there’s a glut of potential employees, bosses may just want to squeeze as much out of their employees, showing no regard for long-term happiness or sustainability.

I experienced quite a bit of grade-A bullshit in my working life. Once, I worked in a small team, doing greenfield/blue ocean kind of work. One of us surprisingly quit. Our manager was a bit taken aback by that, but things have to move on, so we put out a job ad. We were told that we would get all the (pre-screened) CVs, decide whom to invite and interview, be part of the interviews, and also decide whom to hire in the end. After a few weeks with no CVs coming our way, I asked my manager, when I bumped into him, what the status was. He told me that hiring has been completed, and the contracts signed. I learned that they got a few CVs, and then a woman applied, so he did a brief interview with her over the phone and offered her the job. My interview process was a lot tougher; I had to come in twice and had multiple interviews, for instance. For context, you have to know that I’m in a very male-oriented industry. Yet, seeing that kind of bullshit first-hand was not what I had expected. I was pretty annoyed with it, reached out to another company I knew somebody at. They quickly interviewed me. I got the job, and I quit my old one. Of course, during the exit interview I elaborated what a great place to work they provide and how grateful I am for the opportunity to make a contribution, yadda, yadda. Bullshit works the other way, too. If they bullshit, I bullshit.

You will encounter bullshit in the real world. The question is how to deal with it. Becoming a Clarey-like hermit is one way. I don’t think it is the smartest way. If he’s as smart as he thinks he is, he could have pursued a regular corporate career and retired in his mid-40s. If you are male and don’t want to have a family, that is a goal you can comfortably reach. Just sum up how much you can sock away over 20 years. Yet, Clarey didn’t do that. Instead, he’s now doing coaching calls for a living. I don’t think this is more dignifying than doing decent work in industry. Yet, he can now “do a Clarey” and pontificate how everyone is stupid while he’s a genius who just could not be bothered to put in the work. There’s a word for that: bullshit.


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8 thoughts on “Dealing with Corporate Bullshit the Aaron Clarey Way Versus the Right Way

  1. I had minor exchange with him and his advice is not of much use.

    Also, he claims that he saw GFC coming and that he was telling his managers about their book full of smelly subprime mortgages issued to “ninjas”.
    If he’s oh so smart, why didn’t he put his money where his mouth was and shorted the whole crap?
    And no, contrary to what “the big short” makes you believe, you don’t need an ISDA (and a shiton of money) to trade this and you don’t need OTC traded Credit Default Swaps and you also don’t need an exotic index like the ABX to short.
    What? Is he trying to to tell me that he couldn’t buy some long maturity put options on the S&P500? Come on… gimme a break. Like he didn’t know that the whole economy wouldn’t take a hit when the housing sector collapses.
    OK. Ok… even simpler (as options require timing)…. why didn’t he load up on gold in 2006?
    Oh.. and I think 3 years ago he was bashing bitcoin, like “it’s too complicated”…
    He’s just an oldschool “buy a rental property on credit, rent it, use the income to buy another rental property”. Ok, fine, do it like that. but don’t play smart. Anybody with 40k to spare can do that. Especially when you can get a fixed 10year for like 2%.

    1. Is there a video where he covers your email? If so, I’d be very interested in watching it.

      Clarey’s understanding of the financial market is quite spotty. I noticed this once I paid closer attention to him. For instance, he claims that stocks are “inflationary assets”, but it is not the case that stocks rise in tandem with inflation. In fact, there were periods where stocks declined while inflation was high.

      1. Sure, here’s the link:
        https://youtu.be/QzQMBRL9JoE

        To be honest I still don’t understand growth.
        I also don’t understand inflation.

        To his defense, I think he meant that stocks do protect you from inflation in way that while you get less goods for your money, listed companies do increase the price of their goods and hence somewhat offset your loss by higher dividends. As higher dividends year-on-year fuel expectation-driven stock prices with momentum, this leads to stock price rise as well. So far the theory…
        That of course implies that the company has sold the same amount of units (but now at a higher price).

        I think it’s misleading to speak of inflationary assets, until one hasn’t defined inflation. If it’s measured by CPI then it is admittedly easy to outpace those 1-3% of inflation by the usual 9-11% broad stock market returns (annualized over a cycle of 7-10 years that is).

      2. I’ll watch that video later. There are a few ways an economy grows. One is you have more people producing more stuff, another is having the same number of people becoming more efficient, which frees up labor, which can be used to produce something else. Inflation simply means that you need to pay more money for the same kind of product. Inflation is created by increasing the supply of money in the economy, without also increasing production.

        What Clarey said in the video I am referring to was that your money will be less valuable due to inflation. Hence, you should buy stocks, which are an “inflationary asset”, i.e. the money in your bank account won’t grow, but the nominal value of your stocks will — that is how I understood him. This is wrong because it is not the case that stocks appreciate in lockstep with inflation. There have been periods where the stock market was down despite inflation. Thus, his advice is too simplistic.

      3. This is a matter of semantics. Of course that doesn’t mean Aaron Cleary is not an idiot. He most probably is an idiot. What should’ve said is that Stocks are assets with real returns. Which is nothing serious actually because, anything that makes more than 3-4% (which is the long run inflation rate) is considered an real return asset. This is true of stocks even if there were times when inflation is up and broad market (stocks) is down. Its calculated on the long term basis. On short term, nobody knows shit. My two cents.

      4. Neutralrandomthoughts said “To be honest I still don’t understand growth.”

        Growth (GDP growth) is measured as the total number of consumable goods and services. This however do not include capital goods. Only consumable goods. Inflation occur when there is more growth in the money supply compared to GDP growth the same period.

        A little amount of inflation is actually good. Too much and it can kill economies.

      5. I’d like to see your argument for inflation. It should go beyond claiming that that was what you were told in Econ 101. Inflation is a relatively recent phenomenon. There were long stretches of time in which inflation was nonexistent. In fact, a good argument can be made that due to increased productivity, inflation should be negative. Yet, that does not work because our politicians are addicted to debt and inflationary monetary policy.

      6. 1. fully agree with Aaron on Inflation.
        Also the argument of “if you’re in debth, inflation is good, it inflates your debth away”. Bull. Shit. If you have a mortgage of 500k, you still owe whatever you owe. And you’re likely paying it off from your salary. So whar’s the fucking difference if inflation is 0% or 3%? Your salry NEVER grows at a speed to outpace inflation.
        Further the obsession with “we need inflation”… Fuck this shit. WHY???? So prices go up, purchasing power goes down. Who benefits? “The economy”? The world can live without inflation. As a matter of fact it did, until the gold standard was ditched.

        2. Now, about that economy growth thing. I understand that productivity going up means growth. But what Clarey didn’t answer was my ” at the expense of whom” question. If Switzerland makes more money from selling chocolate due to a better and more innovative production process, then they have more money. Then they take that money invest it in R&D and creat new machines that Poland buys. Now Poland has less money, but they got machines. Who grew? Switzerland, not Poland.
        How the fuck is economic growth NOT a zero-sum game? I grow, you fund me growth. I gett richer and you get poorer.

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