Sunday, October 18, 2015

Amateur Anthropologist

I am an amateur anthropologist. Neither my one undergraduate course, nor my reading of Margaret Mead and her colleagues, confers a professional status. Yet, as I have moved through life, I have had the chance to study many different cultures.

Investment banking, for example. That was a hostile environment in which the natives were not friendly to females competing with them. For the seven years I worked in the field, someone was always trying to fire me. Using my skills as an anthropologist, I was able to identify the key behavior patterns of the natives. I then used that sensitive information to shape my behavior as a member of the tribe. It worked. I left on my own terms and in my own time - to study another complex culture.

Intrigue, hostility, and treachery were the hallmarks of the culture of New York State government, my next research target. Fortunately, I had several rabbis to explain the rituals and identify the key players. Again, I used the scientist's cool detachment to chart a path through the jungle. After about 5 years, I left with my reputation intact and letters of commendation. The trick is being in the game but not of the game.

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