- Posted June 8, 2014 by
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Charles Thiémélé: How to talk just for the sake of talking?
Until recently, bafflegab was reserved almost exclusively to politicians. Today this kind of talk extends throughout many sectors: industrial, economic, journalistic. Talking for talk’s sake is an art which is useful and necessary in order to prevail in a world where style rules over substance, simplicity verging on foolishness over the complexity of things.
Charles Thiémélé is the CEO of Damalex, a small company specializing in financial engineering in the oil and gas sectors. On this topic he gives anoteworthy interview to Ampersand World, a company specializing in headhunting talents for the oil and gas sectors.
Decoding the interview:
In order to be convincing when talking for the sake of talking, it is essential to portray yourself as an important and reliable figure, testifying to some notoriety, be it artificial.
A brief presentation will do: “Charles has more than 18 years of experience in finances and oil business. Starting with his first job as an auditor at Andersen’s in Paris to his present position as Business Development Director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Concord Energy, Charles made a great career in financial control, trading, structuring as well as fusions and acquisitions, working for groupssuch as General Electric in the United States or Sahara Energy and Damalex in Switzerland”. This is how Charles Thiémélé’s interview on Amperstand World web site starts. Let us underline that,from the introduction on, Damalex’s CEO is referred to only by his first name, creating an immediate sense of intimacy shared with millions of internet users. Nothing in this short text is verifiable information but it is of no importance. Do not hesitate to truncate facts, nothing but appearances counts. Do not hesitate to use pompous words, to the contrary.
Such expressions full of jargon give you a veneer of thoughtfulness; the more incomprehensibleyou sound the more intelligent you seem.
The first question is quite unexpected. Interviews seldom start with such a reflective question; they usual come at the end, but who cares…
AW: What is the sweetest reminiscence in your career?
CT: When you are an entrepreneur, there is no such a thing as a best moment. Every time you take a risk and realize you made the right decision, it is an incredible moment.
Please note how clever all this is. A whole sentence to say nothing.
With the second question we are getting to the heart of the matter.
AW: What would your advice to a junior manager be?
CT: To stay humble, be self-confident and trust your skills.
Benefiting from his experience as HR manager at Damalex, a three employee company, Charles Thiémélé answers in no uncertain terms. Being self-confident and trusting your skills is redundant, but again who cares? The game is to fill all the space available, while taking no risk and remaining totally consensual. Do not shy away from common places, go for them!
AW:What is your motto?
CT: « Some people are bigger than others »; it is an African saying; it means that the title or the position are not important; what makes a true leader is your state of mind. We can all be a leader in what we do.
This concise answer is worth exploring more in depth; under its utter banality, the assertion is most significant.
In passing, let us note the pleonasm, title and position; it is a necessary evil in this kind of games.
Charles Thiémélé is an Ivory Coast native. Ivory Coast has a very rich culture, with picturesque sayings galore that everyone uses on an everyday basis. Damalex’ CEO could have used as his motto many other colourful sayings such as: “do not wait for the rain to wash”; “when picking things becomes too easy, bending over is not easy”; “it is to hardwood that you tie the cattle”; “the snake hides under the leaves to become bigger” or “the dead calf has no fear of the cutlass”.
But Charles Thiémélé preferred to pick as his motto a baffling saying never heard of in Africa. In the world there are men, women, young people, older people, fat people, skinny people, and « some are bigger than others ». Do not think this reveals a indolent streak; to the contrary, it a been thought through well ahead of the interview.
It is utmost important to exhibit a smooth image with no asperity, Another key point refers to his culture; in the global village, connecting to his roots is not just trendy, it is crucial; you make your difference heard, your own little voice, your humanity. If you were Italian you could say “I’m a Wop and I’m here to stay”; If you were German you could say “I’m a Kraut and I will show you what austerity can achieve!”
AW: What would you have done, had you not been a businessman?
CT: I would have learned. My dream is to teach. As a student, I gave math lessons? Now I am a university professor. But I cannot devote enough time to it, the way I want to. I love to write; I could have been writing on leadership, on energy? Politics or religions would have been stimulating topics.
What is Charles Thiémélé telling us with his answer? First that he is a man who makes his dreams come alive, as he would like to teach and he actually teaches! Secondly he shows us the width of his skills, he could have been writing on serious issues such as leadership or energy. He could as well have become a President or a bishop. In truth, he tells us that he would like and could have done anything and everything. He is a multi-disciplinary man curious about the world. In this kind of exercise one needs to boast while remaining humble. Charles Thiémélé is very good at it.
AW: How would you qualify your relationship with Ampersand World?
CT: To me, Ampersand World is very inspiriting in our field. I am partial to its entrepreneurial, risk taking and innovative approach. I am very comfortable with your concept and we are very keen on working in cooperation with our partners
The interview ends in an apotheosis
The medium brings up a question on its own quality. A self-promotion of a kind. Damalex’ CEO answer reaches the very acme of bafflegab. All the keys devices of “talk for talk’s sake” are packed into his answer: risk taking, innovative, approach, concept including the cardinal concept of cooperation with your partners.
Let us finally point out that, throughout this interviewconducted between two companies specializing in toil and gas, energy’ issues were never even approached! As the African saying goes, “the dead calf has no fear of the cutlass”.