Peter's Evil Overlord List

My son brought an important list to my attention. Here are some samples:

If my advisors ask 'Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?', I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them.

I think some regular managers might do well to try to follow some of the rules in Peter's Evil Overlord List. I worked for an Evil Overlord once who was convinced our company should have 100% of the market we were attacking. He made this mistake by convincing himself that the 100% of the market we wanted was only 5% of the larger market, so why couldn't we do that?

Amusingly, Steve Jobs made this same error when he announced the iPhone. "There are a billion phones sold each year! We only want 1% of that!" Sadly, the iPhone is properly categorized as a product for the smart phone market, which is not a billion phones a year. It would have been more honest to say what proportion of the smart phone market he planned to grab.

This one has practical everyday value as well:

Any data file of crucial importance will be padded to 1.45Mb in size.

Sadly, the data file rule is out of date, and any version of it will be out of date within two years, because the storage capacity on the planet Earth appears to be growing without bound. Interestingly, I worked with a guy once who thought it would be brilliant to sell a CD online which could be burned (of course) onto your own CD ... and make it 80 minutes and 30 seconds minutes long. (In case you don't know, the maximum time limit for CD Audio is 80 minutes.) He was quite distressed when I crushed his evil plan by removing an uninteresting 1 1/2 minute piece of music. (It's not a great idea to go right up to 80 minutes, either, as frequently a couple of seconds of gap are put in between each tune.)

Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.

Well, everyone has unlimited Internet access now, so this isn't really an actionable item.

I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly complicated, e.g. "Align the 12 Stones of Power on the sacred altar then activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse." Instead it will be more along the lines of "Push the button."

Also good advice. One time in high school I was the video tape editor for a student director's project. He expected me to start a tape rolling, edit, let the source tape roll, rewind another machine, edit, pause, jump sideways, and then do another edit. It was clearly impossible. He didn't believe me until the teacher, the great Mr. Fred Cutler, came by to see what we were arguing about. (Where are you, Fred Cutler? I learned a lot from you.)

I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be a disadvantage.

Well, it kind of goes without saying that everyone should do this, but unfortunately only Evil Overlords can really afford this kind of counseling.

Before employing any captured artifacts or machinery, I will carefully read the owner's manual.

Ha! That's not gonna happen. Nobody does that. If people read instruction manuals, then instruction manual writers would have to actually do a decent job, and the whole market economy would have to be reorganized. It's just not gonna happen.

Commentary (C) 2007 Stephen Clarke-Willson. Evil Overlord excerpts Copyright 1996-1997 by Peter Anspach.