Several years after I left my first job in investment banking, I received a call from one of my old bosses.

He jumped right to it: “I don’t know how to ask this, but did you ever add ‘I like robots’ to the Citigroup legal boilerplate?”

He was referring to that dense block of text we pasted into the back of all Citigroup/SSB presentations that covered every conceivable use or misuse of them.

I hesitated. He continued on. “You’re the first person I thought of.”

Of course I was. Despite having a knack for using SUMPRODUCT formulas, practicing totalitarian bureaucracy-friendly graphic design, and displaying an ease with being awake for days at a time that served my career and reputation well, I also acted out more than any twenty three year-old should.

There was the time I stole a poster celebrating a client’s IPO from their wall after a board meeting when they weren’t looking. There were the homemade lucites celebrating mergers I worked on that failed to close, using atomic bomb or car wreck imagery.

SSB advised Veeco on the termination of their merger agreement with FEI. KABOOM!

There was the slingshot incident (of which I was only loosely affiliated). And the time I mistook a permanent marker for a dry erase marker when I wrote “WORKING IS FOR CHUMPS” across my cubicle wall. Whoops.

When the first batch of associates I knew were promoted to vice president, I wrote and distributed a satirical memo detailing optional training workshops for them including, for example:

The Guilt Trip: How to Jump on Analyst Dinner Orders

Now that you are unable to expense dinners, it is vital to save your hard-earned money by piggybacking onto dinner orders placed by analysts. Learn how to appear hungry, recognize when phone calls to restaurants are being made, and select sycophantic analysts who won’t say no.

I broke so many staplers and tape dispensers by throwing them against the wall that my team decided to label an already broken stapler “Throwing Stapler” to prevent further office supply erosion. When a stapler wasn’t enough, once I stabbed my cubicle boombox multiple times with a pair of scissors to express my frustration. I think that was the same day I broke a new flat panel monitor. In yet more proof of tall white male privilege, all of my bad behavior was characterized as passion and drive as opposed to immaturity.

And yes, yes, I admit that I added “I like robots” to the Citigroup legal boilerplate. I embedded it in the middle of a sentence in the middle of a page of tiny print. I wasn’t bold enough to put it in a final pitch. I just wanted to see if it would pass the multiple layered review process (it did), and then I removed it, saved a final draft, printed out the books, and went on my merry way.

I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t like robots? That’s something to which even Citigroup can rep should the occasion arise.

Several years later, Murphy’s Law reared its ugly head and prompted the phone call from my old boss. Another analyst was looking for old material to use and chose the only deck to ever contain “I like robots” as the basis for their pitch. Then from my understanding, the analyst started to use the deck as a regular template for other projects spreading “I like robots” around unknowingly. Until finally “I like robots” caught the eye of a Sherlockian managing director who, incensed, ordered an immediate review of all presentations from the beginning of time (or powerpoint, at least) to eradicate this robotic scourge. My old boss had just wanted to know how far back it went, so he could limit the exploratory damage.

So in the “Bored Meeting?” chapter when Lemming Perry takes a break from his accounting rant to respond to Damien by adding, “I LIKE BUNNIES,” that’s (sort of) where it comes from. Well from that story and Egon’s rant in Ghostbusters about their Tribeca firehouse which we obviously parodied.

And because, you know, who doesn’t like bunnies?

OMG! Robot bunnies. Of course! I think we have a future chapter idea, Bryan!


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Foundering follows the world's "crappiest" tech startup, FertilizeMe, the leader in on-demand fertilizer fertilizer on-demand. Foundering was created by weary startup veterans Benjamin Dorr and Bryan Keefer.