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Um, this comes via the Language Log and has to do with two edgy young Scottish gentlemen named Martin [Dickie] and James [Watt] founding a new microbrewery which in due course was shortlisted for the Entrepreneur of the Year award in Scotland. The story has its genesis in the course of filling out the forms for the award. Hear it from James Watt:
One of the questions slightly annoyed me; it was a longwinded one which involved the much maligned phrase ‘corporate social responsibility'. Young companies are about surviving, expanding and paying off debt, especially in the current financial climate. We are not yet in the stage where we have the luxury of philanthropy and I did not want to do what most other companies would do in this situation and invent some spiel about walking old ladies dogs, saving the odd panda at lunch time and adopting a young whale with a below average IQ.
So I gave an honest answer. After all, they would not give Entrepreneur of the Year to a couple of 26 year olds anyway.
Here's the question (and the answer provided by James):
He went on to explain why he wrote what he did:
It was brutally honest, perhaps a little too self assured and edgy, but it was our opinion. I was also sure it would get the judges attention after a long day looking at allot of boring forms trying too hard to conform and impress. It was also a dig at the ever increasing reach of corporate ethics and political correctness. At BrewDog , we are not big on saying what we are supposed to anyway!
With the judges somewhat shockingly impressed we claimed the award - Martin and James won 2008 Scottish Entrepreneur of the Year...Maybe the other answers or the beer tasting in our final presentation sealed the deal!
So far so good, but the young entrepreneurs soon found themselves in the reckoning for the European Entrepreneur of the Year as well, and the other one ended up travelling to Rome to do a presentation to a judging panel of international dignitaries and superstar business people. Here's how he describes his experience:
Arriving perfectly on time I was greeted by a slightly worried looking German Frauline. After excitedly telling me that our entry form had been sabotaged I listened intently as she tried hard to explain the castastrophy that had occurred. She told me in her direct uncompromising fashion that very insulting things had been written on the form and that hopefully the judges hadn't seen them and that they were doing their best to rectify the situation and sort it before I had to present my lecture (and it was a lecture) to the executive panel. After not being able to tell what the hell she was on about for the best part of 5 minutes I finally got a word out of her that made sense to me. ‘Mother Teresa'!
Now I knew what I was dealing with. I remember reading about Mother Teresa on a form that James had filled in about 6 months ago and laughing at the irrelevance of the question to a start up company. This brought a smile to my face, which only made matters worse. Deducing that perhaps the humour of this comment was rapidly lost in translation, I again wryly smirked a little bit at the predicament I found myself in.
I was summoned into the room and handed over the pen drive with the info and was introduced to the panel. The initial atmosphere was a bit frosty as I commenced the presentation. Undeterred by my German peer I set about enchanting the judges with some Brewdog magic. After 15 minutes of full on PowerPoint rock ‘n roll they sat captivated. Or at least I thought they were captivated.
Jean Stephens was unable to get the words out to complain, he was so shocked and embarrassed. Our original entry form was soon thrust in front of Martin with the phrase ‘I am not fucking Mother Teresa' underlined and high-lighted. The former Romanian President then stepped in and asked Martin; "Why you sleep with Mother Teresa?'
The Language Log debates the various possibilities:
At this point, we have a bit of an exegetical puzzle. The context, and the explanation in the next paragraph suggests that Mr. Constantinescu's question should have been "Why you not sleep with Mother Teresa?"
Well, whatever. Click here for the full story