To: The Board of Directors and Shareholders of Wonka Chocolates and Confections, Inc.
From: Charles “Charlie” Bucket, Chairman and CEO
Dear Wonka Directors and Shareholders,
I am writing to provide you with an update on our company’s progress. It goes without saying that my first quarter at the helm has been a challenging one on many fronts. Global economic unrest, onerous environmental regulations, and seismic shifts in consumer behavior are the predominant factors contributing to our significant dip in revenue. However, there appears to be, among certain directors and shareholders, a belief that these problems are self-inflicted, and furthermore, that the blame falls squarely on my shoulders. I believe these charges merit a thorough examination of the facts.
Let me first remind you that I am a 12-year-old boy. When I won the Golden Ticket competition and Mr. Wonka approached me with the idea to take over his company, I too thought it was absurd. But, as you all know, he’s as persistent as he is mercurial, and he convinced me — despite a rather thin resume that included only a paper route and intermittent care of several geriatric family members — that I was capable of leading the Wonka brand into the 21st century. Of course, the learning curve is steep. Also, that nutcase Wonka strong-armed you board members into voting to approve me as CEO. So if you’re looking for someone to blame, take a look in the mirror (I’m sorry for that uncharacteristic outburst. Perhaps the stress of the job is starting to alter my kind-hearted demeanor).
I would also remind the dissatisfied parties that transitions are never easy. These things take time, especially when one’s predecessor is the founder and an industry trailblazer. You think Tim Cook had it rough? Try taking over for the guy who walked around the factory in a top hat singing playful tunes and performing magic tricks! Yeah, I know everyone loved the way he somersaulted into board meetings. I come from the newspaper industry, and that is, simply, not my style. But it doesn’t mean my approach cannot and will not work.
Regarding my management capabilities, I know there have been whispers that I am too nice and not tough enough to navigate these mounting challenges, particularly on the labor and legal front. On that note, I am pleased to announce we recently reached a fair collective bargaining agreement with the Oompa-Loompas following their costly 17-day strike. Unfortunately, we are now facing several lawsuits from the families of my fellow tour participants, all of whom — as I’m sure you’ve learned from the widespread media coverage — were most likely killed during the course of their visit (I must add, on advice of corporate counsel, that when I last saw them they were still alive, despite having been inflated into a large blueberry or stuck in a chocalate vacuum tube, for example). These legal hurdles are no doubt significant, but I can assure you we have a strong team of lawyers guiding us. Plus, if you wanted someone so ruthless then maybe you should have hired Veruca Salt as CEO. Oh yeah, she didn’t win the contest, did she? No, she’s forever interred in a giant fucking goose egg!
Finally, I know I shouldn’t allow my personal life to interfere with my professional responsibilities. But I’ve got to be honest with you, I’m dealing with some heavy stuff at home right now. Here’s the deal: With the windfall from my new job, I offered to buy my mother and my grandparents a brand new home. A nice gesture, right, because they were still living in that dilapidated shithole I grew up in. What happens? They turn it down, and instead say they want to move in with me because I’m “only 12.” At first I’m like, no way. But then my mom stares out the window at the moon and starts singing this totally sappy song, and my grandparents look up at me with their crusty, teary eyes. So now I’m the CEO of a major corporation, with enough cash to get my own sweet penthouse overlooking the town square, and I’m still living with my mom and four sick old geezers who still insist on sleeping in the same disgusting bed (something kinky going on there). Do you know how humiliating it is to get off the corporate jet after a week at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference and have to change a bunch of bedpans? So yeah, things aren’t going so great for me right now either. Thanks for asking.
In closing, nothing I have documented above is intended as an excuse. Regardless of my age, personal issues, or the fact that it was Wonka who got us into this mess in the first place (I’m starting to see why he jumped ship), I picked up the mantle to lead this company, so it is my job to right the ship. I want you to have complete confidence that we have a vision for the future, that the future is bright, and any suggestion otherwise is pure imagination.
Patrick Muncie is a writer and strategic consultant in New York City. Previously he has contributed to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s sports blog. Currently he is working on a novel, a screenplay, several stories, and a drawer full of half-baked ideas written on bar napkins. You can find Patrick on Twitter: @pmuncie