A new Goldman State Podcast drops every Friday!

Jun 28, 2024


Reading corporate “signaling” for fun and profit

By Ed Goldman

When Tesla’s board of directors approved Elon Musk’s demand for a $48 billion pay package, the Wall Street Journal wrote that the decision was “signaling support” for the compensation plan. 

“Signaling support”?! If $48 billion is a “signal,” what would it take to show an all-out endorsement?

Edgy Cartoon

Refreshing the brando

“Tesla Directors to Give CEO Elon Musk Their First-Born Children and/or Grandchildren along with Salary that Eclipses Annual Budgets of Several Nations Combined”

“World Bank Said to be Finalizing Plans to Give Elon Musk All of its Savings Accounts and Toasters”

“God in Talks with Elon Musk to Create Succession Plan”

Who does Corporate America, i.e., America, think it’s fooling when it acts “subtle,” sending signals and such? For example, no matter how you spin it, there’s simply no such thing as a “compassionate layoff plan.”

HR DIRECTOR: Good morning, Todd, let’s get right to the point. As we enjoy these delicious cups of Swiss Miss hot chocolate and some really fine weed, the contents of your office are being boxed up and removed from the building. Would you like a dash of cinnamon on your cocoa?

TODD: What the f—?

HR DIRECTOR: I’m sure you were about to say, “What the firetruck?” but with a few letters missing. This is understandable, Todd. In fact, we here at Amalgamated Conglomerated Swag Chain Plyers ‘n’ More feel your pain. I personally sobbed when the personnel committee said you were going to be laid off. I did the same thing when it decided to dump Marge in Accounting, Butch in the mailroom and Fran in Receivables. For Mahalia in Catering, I confess I wiped only an imaginary tear from my left eye.

TODD: Catering? Why do we have a catering department in a company that manufactures swag chain pliers?

HR DIRECTOR: Oh, is that what those weird looking tools are? I certainly lack your institutional history, Todd. You will be missed. We have a catering department just in case one of our customers from the Midwest pops in for an unexpected tour of our lab and assembly plant and didn’t eat on the plane, for which you can’t really blame them. One bag of Chex Mix does not a meal make.

TODD: How often do we have customers visit?

HR DIRECTOR: We think it’ll happen any day now.  

TODD (Gasping for air): Look, I have an already-delinquent property tax bill due on June 30 or else the county will start foreclosure proceedings on my home.

HR DIRECTOR: Well, Todd, chillax a moment. It’s not like you’re not going to receive a generous severance package as well as a letter of recommendation.

TODD (Panting a little): Oh. Good. When?

HR DIRECTOR: November 15th. Believe me, I’ve been fast-tracking this, Todd.

TODD: Much appreciated. Say, does that window open?

HR DIRECTOR: Oh, yes. Need a little air?

Looking for a Great Gift?

TODD: No, I just want to see if you’ll bounce after I drop you from 18 stories up. Marge in Accounting, Butch in the mailroom, and Fran in Receivables started an office pool. I didn’t know until now about Mahalia in Catering or I’d most certainly have included her. 

HR DIRECTOR (Whispering into his headset): Security.

TODD (Standing and walking to the HR DIRECTOR): What’re you doing?

HR DIRECTOR: Signaling fear.

Don’t forget! A new Goldman State Podcast drops every Friday!


Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).