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Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva

The Blogging Gavriliad 2017


It’s about time I introduced you to the classic Russian novel The Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov. This novel is set in the USSR of 1920s and is a brilliant satire that highlights the absurdity and surrealism of the Soviet life. Together with the sequel The Little Golden Calf (which is even better IMHO) I must have read it hundred times instead of the school-mandated Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. No disrespect but those guys should’ve considered writing some funnier books.

One of the many quirky characters in The Twelve Chairs is a poet Nikifor Lapis who sells his poems to the small trade publications and magazines. What is so special about his poems? You see, all of them are about the same person called Gavrila. The only difference is that Gavrila acquires different skills based on what publication the poem is offered to.

For example, in ‘The Last Letter’ poem, crafted for the Telegraphist’s Week magazine, Gavrila is a postman:

  “Gavrila had a job as postman.
  Gavrila took the letters round…”

For The Cake Worker, Gavrila is reincarnated as a baker:

  “Gavrila had a job as baker.
  Gavrila baked the cakes and bread…”

If Nikifor Lapis wrote in his trademark iambic tetrameter for the SAP Insider Magazine it could be something like this:

  “Gavrila was a HEC consultant.
  Gavrila implemented Cloud…”

The Gavrila Blog

Fast forward almost a century, the omnipresent Gavrila clearly outlived his creators and from the old-fashioned poems moved on to the modern media. Namely, the blogs. See if this piece sounds familiar to you.

“We live in the times when digital innovation is the cutting edge of the sharing economy. The connected devices, empowered by IoT and Cloud, are disrupting our everyday lives. Business needs to catch up, otherwise the trailblazers like Amazon, Google, and Uber will eat your lunch and cake too. 75% of the Fortune 500 companies do not exist anymore. Millennials are entering the workforce and it is a game changer.

What can we learn from the industry leaders to propel digital transformation and delight the customers? Here are the top expert tips.

  1. Buy low, sell high. Cost-efficient, demand-driven, sourcing is the cornerstone of the modern supply chain. Are you providing your buyers with the digital tools they need?
  2. Measure twice, cut once. Governance, transparency and end-to-end visibility, decision-making from the single source of truth in Digital Core. Because, yes!
  3. No pain – no gain. Legacy systems, spaghetti code, redundant ERP landscapes requiring constant attention from IT are replaced by the modern UI, Cloud-based solutions with SaaS, PaaS, YaaS, Big Data, and What’sNoT.

SAP provides innovative solutions for the businesses that seek to increase profitability through digital innovation and disruption while maintaining compliance and achieving customer satisfaction. To learn more, click here.”

Did this fill up your Buzzword Bingo card? Did you feel like this blog could have easily appeared on any website, like Forbes or LinkedIn? And even “SAP” here could be replaced by Oracle or Microsoft without making any difference in the content. This, folks, is a bona fide modern day cutting-edge state-of-the-art “Gavrila blog”.

But how do you avoid creating one?

Write for Yourself! No, The Other Self

There was an impromptu discussion on SCN recently on what motivates people to blog. One of the reasons brought up was just to “blog for yourself”. At first, it seemed a bit selfish and even arrogant. But then I realized that this motivation was simply misunderstood. Clearly, it must have meant to write not for yourself, the writer, but for yourself, the reader.

Before clicking that Publish button, ask yourself: would I enjoy reading what I just wrote? Would I be proud to show it to my parents, my boss or someone I respect? Would a person who doesn’t even know anything about SAP still enjoy my writing? If the answer is “no” then reconsider publishing your creation.

Just Say “No”

In the global race to push out the content its quality starts to resemble, err… the other thing we push out. We somehow forget that even a blog is a piece of writing. And writing is an art, a combination of skill and soul. One can build up the skill but if you don’t put any passion in it then the result will be lifeless, just like The Gavriliad.

Not everyone can or need to be a writer. And that’s OK. I’m a bad singer and can’t draw a straight line if my life dependent on it. So I just don’t. People have different talents and there must be other ways you can contribute that will make you a happier person. If someone is pushing you to post a blog on SCN when you feel no desire or passion to do so, just say “no”.

You see, Gavrila is like a vampire: he needs to be invited to get in. Only if we collectively close the doors on Gavrila he can finally rest in peace. After working so hard as “the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker”, doesn’t he deserve at least not to be summoned into the SAP world?


P.S. Full text of The Twelve Chairs in English can be found here.

Image credit: Collage by Sergejs Taranenko. SAPInsider graphics used in accordance with fair use license for the purposes of parody. 

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      Author's profile photo Tammy Powlas
      Tammy Powlas

      Hi Jelena Perfiljeva

      I do confess, I blog for myself.  It's away to learn, share knowledge and sometimes my blogs end up in my own search results!  But if anyone doesn't find it useful, feel free to comment.


      I always enjoy reading your blogs 🙂


      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva
      Blog Post Author

      Thank you, Tammy! I don’t think anyone in their right mind would count any of your blogs as part of The Gavriliad. And the fact that you find them helpful later just confirms that indeed you write for yourself as a reader, not just to check a checkbox somewhere. ?

      Author's profile photo Veselina Peykova
      Veselina Peykova

      I can only add this: "Don't write about things that you do not understand and you have not experienced personally". This rules out most blogs infested by with buzzwords, because buzzwords are a crutch for people with no thoughts of their own.

      By the way, there is a movie adaptation "Двенадцать стульев" from 1976, thanks for the reminder, I was looking for a good movie to watch this week. 🙂



      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva
      Blog Post Author

      The 1976 one was a mini-series and IMHO Andrey Mironov as Bender was a terrible mis-casting. There is actually an English movie adaptation by Mel Brooks himself, I'm curious to see that.

      There was also an earlier movie The Golden Calf with Sergei Yursky, which was much better than any of the 12 chairs adaptations. Not sure why they didn't make 12 chairs with Yursky, he was the best Bender (and a great actor overall).

      Author's profile photo Denis Konovalov
      Denis Konovalov

      I'd have to disagree with you on Mironov. He is great as Bender.
      Yursky is great as well.
      So we have 2 great Benders.

      I might agree that the Golden Calf with Yursky was a better show.

      Author's profile photo Joachim Rees
      Joachim Rees

      Don’t write about things that you do not understand

      I agree, but would also add:

      If you are in the process of learning/exploring something new, it might be a good idea to blog about it while doing so. Explaining something to others helps check if you really understood it, and you also might benefit from feedback you get.

      And even something like "I looked at this and this way, checking that also, but I still don't understand it" seems ok to me, as it documents work you have done an thus might be helpful for other, too.

      That's how I got into blogging back in *checking* early 2016.




      Author's profile photo Veselina Peykova
      Veselina Peykova

      You are right, I should have phrased this as:

      Don’t write about things that you do not understand or you have not experienced personally.

      I am simply tired of reading: "XXX feature is great and innovative, because others say so".

      If one cannot present a real-life business case of his/her own, explaining why XXX can be better than YYY in a specific situation or how it is different from ZZZ, I cannot take the statement seriously.

      Learning journey blogs are a whole different animal (as long as the learning part is hinted at some point in the blog) and even if you consider yourself experienced on the subject, you can still encounter interesting ideas, which are worthwhile exploring.

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva
      Blog Post Author

      I am also sick and tired of such blogs where people just regurgitate the content they've seen or heard somewhere. But every time I ask for some factual evidence people get offended...

      Author's profile photo Joachim Rees
      Joachim Rees

      Hey Jelena,

      have you joined the dark side or something? 😉
      Because I see you publishing something on tag "Business Trends", which in the past (yay!) wasn't even to be named. 😉



      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva
      Blog Post Author

      Mind you, it's only a secondary tag. How else could I reach the potential audience? 😉 Although this might be a moot point if people just write blogs and don't actually read anything there...

      Author's profile photo Denis Konovalov
      Denis Konovalov

      I have to correct you a bit - the books are not about "the absurdity and surrealism of the Soviet life" - they are about absurdity and surrealism of НЕП period in post revolutionary/post civil war Russia.

      Soviet life and idiocy of it came a bit later :).

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      Blog that are a contender for this award are usually titled in the format of


      X reasons why blah blah will or won't end the world


      X becomes the whatever number of reasons they can think of at the time of writing the post. Uneven numbers for the win.


      5 Reasons Why you should read this drivel

      7 Reasons you should avoid the latest new shiny toy that everyone wants


      and so on


      Click bait that takes the award

      Author's profile photo Vadim Kalinin
      Vadim Kalinin

      Small correction - the link to The Twelve Chairs has to be:


      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva
      Blog Post Author

      Updated it. Thank you!

      Author's profile photo Jerry Janda
      Jerry Janda

      “And writing is an art, a combination of skill and soul.”

      My soul has blackened, but I otherwise strongly agree. ?

      A writer is how I describe myself…if only for the sake of simplicity. Such as when going through customs and the officers ask what I do (after I inform them I’m traveling for business).

      Now I could say, “I work for the online community for SAP, a major business software provider. My job consists of communications and member engagement — which is just a fancy way of saying that I try to explain the current state of affairs since we relaunched the platform while I duck virtual tomatoes. If I didn’t laugh about it, I’d probably cry. And if I started crying, I’d probably never stop.”

      It’s much easier just to say, “I’m a writer.”

      It nothing else, it speeds up the process, which I’m sure the people in line behind me greatly appreciate.