What Do Allianz, Jimmy Swaggart, Eliot Spitzer and Larry Craig Share in Common?

Psychologists have long recognized that individuals with deep character flaws that they’d just as soon hide from others often adopt a defensive mechanism of publicly railing against the very flaw from which they suffer. Psychologists refer to this as the “PBK” syndrome. (Phony But Know it!) Here’s what I’m talking about.

Elliott Spitzer as a prosecutor in New York, took a highly public self-righteous stand against prostitution. He even spearheaded new legislation to fight the evil, only to be exposed later as a frequent user of the service.

Congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.) aggressively proposed and supported legislation to identify and prosecute pedophiles, only to be forced to resign from Congress when it was revealed that he had sent sexually explicit Internet messages to at least one underage male Congressional page.

Former Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was recognized as a staunch and proud homophobic who constantly fought gay rights. That is, until he was cited at the Minneapolis airport for soliciting sex from a male.

• Ted Haggard, nationally known and highly respected preacher, constantly sermonized against the sin and evils of homosexuality, only to be exposed as having, on several occasions, paid a male prostitute for his services.

And who can forget when televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, the self-appointed moral judge of America, tearfully tried to explain away his prolific use of prostitutes. (His defense was that he only looked but did not touch!)

I could go on and on, but the case for the PBK syndrome is made.

Now, psychologists have discovered that PBK syndrome can apply not only to individuals involved in hypocritical immoral personal activities, but also to companies involved in bad business practices.


One example of corporate PBK syndrome came to light this past week when it was widely announced that Allianz has joined with CNBC to launch competition to find new, “Green” entrepreneurs. This search for entrepreneurs will be spearheaded by a new TV series to be screened on CNBC later this year.

Tagged for its TV debut as “The Good Entrepreneur,” the show is backed by CNBC and financial services provider Allianz. The announced aim of the show is to find the entrepreneur with the best eco-business concept which is sustainable, responsible and innovative.

Wow! Allianz involved in identifying, rewarding and supporting entrepreneurs. What a concept! Allianz joining up with CNBC to identify entrepreneurs is a little like Eliot Spitzer joining with the Playboy Channel to do a reality TV show aimed at identifying the best new call-girl services in America.

If any company lacks even one scintilla of entrepreneurial philosophy or culture it would be Allianz. If there were a “Bureaucracy Hall of Fame,” Allianz would surely be the standard against which all other bureaucracies would be measured. Allianz is so bureaucratic that even bureaucrats within the organization complain about the bureaucracy.

This is pure PBK syndrome in the business world. Allianz knows that its organizational structure and culture is anything but entrepreneurial. Yet, rather than concentrate and correct their own bad business practices, they go public with a widely-publicized stance aimed at identifying and supporting entrepreneurs.

It’s easy to see what Allianz shares in common with these other PRK’ers. Can all of us say – HYPOCRISY?

And the moral of the story is …

Whether it be personal or business practices, it is always better to take care of business at home, before we lecture others to be what we are not.  Know thyself and conquer the world.

One response to “What Do Allianz, Jimmy Swaggart, Eliot Spitzer and Larry Craig Share in Common?

  1. As a former employee of a good FMO (Field Marketing Office) made bad by Allianz, I can attest to how very true Bob’s point is. I observed how Allianz crushed every semblance of innovation and creativity in our ranks and ultimately I was pushed out of what was once a great company in favor of much more expensive and less functional information technology choices. The FMO went from being the most profitable in the organization to a flailing and failing and perhaps even money losing operation.

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