Read Mark Jaffe's short, brilliant obituary


Star Tribune

You consult a corporate headhunter if you need to hire a top-shelf executive. 

You consult a philosopher if you need sage life advice.

You consult a comedian if you just need a few laughs.

Or you could go to Mark Jaffe, and get all those things, and then some. 

This is the lesson to be learned -- posthumously, sadly -- from reading Jaffe's obituary, which appeared earlier this week in the Star Tribune. Jaffe, 64, was a founding partner at Wyatt & Jaffe, a Twin Cities corporate "executive search" consulting firm whose clients had included Bank of America, General Electric, and the Gateway computer company.

Here's how Jaffe described the job of headhunter in a 2015 interview, in which he compared his work to that of a psychoanalyst:

"We get to ask impertinent questions, probe and poke around to our heart's content, then make our diagnosis. Unlike mental health professionals, we don't aspire to improve the subject's condition. We are bound by the charter of our mission to sit in judgment, to be vigilant gatekeepers and to prevent the unworthy from entering Paradise. Then we go someplace nice for lunch."

At the time, Jaffe was promoting Let Me Give It to You Straight, his book of career (and life) advice, which is promoted on its website as "a guide to getting ahead without getting mustard on your jacket," and as possibly "the last book you'll ever need."

Well, it might at least be the next book you'll ever need, if indeed you're looking to get a job, or a better-paying one, or one with better hours, a shorter commute -- even just one that makes you slightly less eager to see your bosses'/coworkers'/clients' knuckles pressed firmly against a belt sander.

Consider the wisdom in a Star Tribune commentary Jaffe wrote, counseling prospective job candidates to think of themselves not as eager interviewees, but as corporate consultants who've already pocketed the $20,000 fee. In Jaffe's construction, you're not there to beg for a job. You're there to help the company make a good decision.

He writes:

"Listen to how they self-diagnose while you make your own private diagnosis. Consider whether your assessment matches theirs. Never mind whether you're the right person for this role. You can think about that later, in the car on the way home."

Pretty great, huh?

It may be that the best thing Mark Jaffe wrote was among the last. The brief death announcement that ran in the Star Tribune reads every bit like one last piece from Jaffe's sardonically witty mind. Like both excerpts above, it'll make you think, make you laugh, and make you want to approach things a little less like you, and a little more like Mark Jaffe.

"Mark Jaffe, age 64, died 02/25/2018, following a courageous battle with life. Survived by wife of 34 years, Bonnie; children Melech (Azriela), Gittel (Moshe), Tzippy (Dovber), Motty (Michal), Yossie, Rivkie (Mendel) and Mendy (Gili); 14 grandchildren; additionally by brother Scott (Julie) and sister Caryn (Steve). President of executive search firm Wyatt & Jaffe for more than 30 years; mentor to some, tormentor to others, iconoclast to all. In his next life, Mark wants to return as a beloved, world-famous satirist or an insurance claims adjustor…whichever has better health coverage. Services have already been held. No valet parking."

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