Fortune Cookies as Weapons of War
Management techniques from new China
Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese warlord, wrote the military treatise titled The Art of War. On a lighter note, similar 21st century business management techniques can be found in fortune cookies.
A generation of business school students studied The Art of War, a text of ancient Chinese military strategy and tactics written by Sun Tzu. Lecturers adapted his teachings to prepare future managers to apply these valued military principles in solving problems they might face in modern business. Competition is war, after all.
The ancient text details those steps which now may seem to be second nature to the seasoned professional. These include: laying plans, waging war, planning an attack, refining tactical dispositions, directing, identifying weak points and strong illusion, engaging the force, varying tactics, moving the force, sizing up situational positioning, understanding the nine situations, coordinating a fiery attack, and using spies.
The New China method of management employs and expands upon Sun Tzuâs treatise. Whereas the generalâs advice for waging war has universal applications for overcoming adversity and defeating your opponents, New Chinaâs cookie contrivances often address a broad range of practical challenges related to more peaceful endeavors that ensure the same outcome: âCan it be that one really does catch more bees with honey than with vinegar?â
âGood Luck is the result of good planning.â Luck has nothing to do with success; if you donât have a road map, you will not get to your destination. Statement of Auditing Standards No. 1 unequivocally requires that âThe auditor must adequately plan the work and must supervise any assistants.â1 Taking the time to review what needs to be accomplished and outlining the resources required beforehand will result in smoother, more efficient operations. By utilizing this concept from New China, you will soon realize another fortune cookie maxim: âThe respect and help of influential people will soon be yours.â
âBe careful! Straight trees often have crooked roots.â This is not to say that all business managers are pirates and thieves trying to hide buried treasure. Forensic accountants, by their training and experience, may be exposed to more than their fair share of shady behavior. The traditional audit, however, looks more to the sunshine while being aware of the shade. We call it healthy skepticism. The experienced auditor will develop a knack of being able to sort through the pile of junk. The fortune cookie admonition of being âborn with a sixth sense and superb insight,â might help, but a piece of advice that ensures success says, âTo climb the ladder of success, work hard, and youâll reach it.â
âOne learns most from teaching others.â Think about this for a minute. How better to learn than to prepare for an intense grilling by colleagues. There is no better way for an expert to hone his or her presentation skills. âYou will become more passionate and determined about your vision.â In other words, by teaching others, you will gain confidence and become a more effective communicator. A valuable fortune might read, âYou are known for being quick in action and decisions.â
While the cookie espouses one to âListen to the wisdom of the old,â young colleagues may have a different read altogether and resist adopting the âold ways.â Hopefully, new practitioners will come to appreciate the professional give-and-take, and learn something from those who are more experienced.Â Not only that, continuing education may require the establishment of a mentorship, in certain circumstances, as a professional standard of practice.2
âA single kind word can keep warm for years.â Think for a moment of a supervisor or mentor whose words of encouragement made a huge difference in your professional life.
âAdventure can be a real happiness.â Donât be afraid of learning new things or taking on new responsibilities. âFailure is the first step to success.â Unfortunately, some of our endeavors are not successful, but what we learn will prevent a reoccurrence. âDonât be afraid to take that big step.â
The best part of the meal is always at the end, âLife always gets harder near the summit.âÂ âYou soon will be sitting on top of the world.â
Hereâs one final tidbit of worldly advice from the cookie archives of New China, âA crab wonton a day keeps the doctor away.â (How does everything get back to Obamacare?)
While working part-time in college for the Litigation Support department of a New York CPA firm, Howard was handed a deposition to read; the case involved a massive accounting fraud, which was now on his summer reading list. At the beginning of the fall semester, the auditing professor lectured on the case, misstating the facts. âExcuse me professorâŚ.â Howard said. That was over 40 years ago, and it was the start of a career of forensic accounting. Asking questions and researching the answers came naturally. âI still get nervous before testifying, but that just keeps me on my toes.â
Howard lives in Coral Gables, Florida, with his wife, Gail. Together they have two grown daughters and a granddaughter, whom he loves to spoil. When not working, Howard can be found behind a camera shooting pictures. Howard can be contacted at email@example.com.
1American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. âAU Section 150 Generally Accepted Auditing Standards,â http://www.aicpa.org/Research/Standards/AuditAttest/DownloadableDocuments/AU-00150.pdf.
2American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. âAU Section 316 Consideration of Fraud in a Financial Statement Audit,â http://www.aicpa.org/Research/Standards/AuditAttest/DownloadableDocuments/AU-00316.pdf.