Martin Kihn

On inspiring Showtime’s sexy, funny <em>House of Lies</em>

Question: Your book House of Lies is a scathing memoir of being a management consultant. Now Don Cheadle is playing you in the TV version as a kind of high-rolling con man. Is that how it was?
Martin Kihn: The show is very sexy, with consultants hanging out in strip clubs when they’re not giving advice made up on the spot. In reality, consultants never have time for sex, not even with their own wives. It’s a lot of work and travel—I’d call my wife sobbing.

Q: How did you get mixed up in a business
like that?

MK: I was writing for MTV’s Pop Up Video show—I’d reached the pinnacle of my TV writing dreams. So I made a list of careers and crossed out all the ones that didn’t pay very well until I was left with investment banking and management consulting.

Q: The book has a glossary of consultant lingo. Which term is your favorite?
MK: To do a “540.” It means to change your mind, change it back, then change it again.

Q: Do you work on the show?
MK: Ironically, I’m credited as a consultant.

Q: You’ve also sold the film rights for your book A$$hole: How I Got Rich & Happy By Not Giving a Damn About Anyone. What inspired that book?
MK: I was working at an ad agency (now I work for Fallon in Minneapolis) and was told I couldn’t be promoted because I was too nice. So I figured I’d become a jerk for a while. My brother has since told me that I’m not actually that nice to start with.

Q: Has your move to Minneapolis last fall inspired a new book?
MK: I’ve thought about a satire, but I can’t do it—I don’t loathe Minnesotans. I’ve been frozen into submission.

Kihn will discuss House of Lies at Common Good Books on April 25.

Watch clips from House of Lies—and of Kihn discussing the book—at