Wednesday, September 23, 2015

King Of Kings: The CEO

In today’s American society the closest thing we have to a king would be the CEO. He is a private individual, with extraordinary power, money, and influence. His decisions determine the daily lives of those around him and those very far away. He is on top of the social pyramid and delegates decisions to others in order to manage his business. I see here a connection to the old Renaissance under the theme of Sprezzatura or Courting Culture. Sarah Carpenter in her online piece The Sixteenth Century wrote of a particular party that King Henry VIII put on “The actual festivities did not simply accompany or celebrate a political event but were recognised as politically significant in themselves. The Milanese ambassador, who wrote home explaining the various European implications of the treaty, carefully pointed out in letters to his lord and to colleagues that: the festivities and triumphs and the sumpteous apparatus with which this most powerful king has entertained the French ambassadors has surpassed all the splendours of modern or ancient kings.”

            During that time it was a political show of force to be a good host and to achieve honors. The Court system of the day was a very complicated one. How I like to think about it is a comparison of our own day and time. When business dealings are done internationally, its good manners for the representatives of the company to recognize and respect the cultural and spiritual traditions of the country to which they are visiting and to adhere to their standards of conducting business. In our own college books we have tips on how we could better represent ourselves and the company by exercising proper preparation and research in order for the business visit to be a success. All this is a “court system” that is practiced by American corporations and companies in order to gain favor and conduct business.

            One does not need to read very much about the courting practices of the Renaissance to see there was a good deal of lavish spending on what most would consider a genuine waste. However, when the rules of the game have been laid out in a political landscape you need to play the game well. My only question is do we today need to follow in the lavish footsteps of our ancestors? Or do we show the world a new way to conduct our affairs?

Works Cited

Carpenter, Sarah. "The Sixteenth Century Court Audience: Performers and Spectators." Sarah Carpenter. Http://, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.


  1. I think we're definitely playing the same game. Our internet identities are designed to impress, to present ourselves in a way that is socially successful and acceptable. The whole dress-code discussion around BYU campuses is a reflection of a societal need to assume a certain identity through outward presentation. And there's a huge discussion happening right now about how women should and should not behave, how they should look, etc. So I really don't think we've made much progress - if any - in our efforts to not judge by appearance.

  2. Points of comparison between classic sprezzatura and modern business are indeed easy to find. I'm curious about points of contrast.

    Take, for example, the Steve referred to by your picture. Steve Jobs is famous for having worn jeans and a turtleneck during 99% of his life, being incredibly rude and close-minded, publicly encouraging the recreational use of LSD, throwing temper tantrums at business meetings, and in general being as different from a Machiavellian prince as it is possible to be. And he was extraordinarily rich, hailed as a visionary, worshiped in the realms of both business and technology, and generally acknowledged to be Good At Stuff.

    That's just one example. Henry Ford, Mark Zuckerberg, Leonardo Da Vinci, Andrew Carnegie, and many, many other extremely important leaders throughout history were known to have the same temperament. So is sprezzatura as dominant in the upper echelons as you purport that it is? I think it's a question worth some conversation.