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Join a secret society at work, with the Simpsons, the Matrix and Monty Python.

Last Updated: 23 Sep 2010

In the week that Dan Brown's latest identikit blockbuster hit the shelves (and with some force - it shifted more than 300,000 copies in its first 36 hours of release), which this time apparently has symbologist Robert Langdon taking on the Freemasons, it seemed timely to look at the unseen forces that affect our working life. Ever wondered why you didn't get that promotion, or secure that particular client brief? Perhaps it was all down to your handshake...

Recognise the signs:
The first step is to identify when these hidden forces are at work - and that means recognising some of the signs that secret society members use to communicate their brotherhood to each other. In this clip from Monty Python, not even an exploding model can stop architect Eric Idle winning a pitch before two fellow Freemasons (Brown's latest bete noire) - so John Cleese steps in to remind us of some of the classic Freemason indicators. Though we suspect they're marginally more subtle in real life, or Brown’s new book really will be rubbish.

Join forces with other like-minded souls:
Secret societies are only as good as the people in them - although of course, you won't know who they are until you're invited to join. In this episode of the Simpsons, Homer is thrilled to be inducted into the Stonecutters; here the great and good of Springfield celebrate their all-encompassing influence in song...

Beware of the consequences:
You probably think that once you're part of the club, in the know, on the inside looking out, life is going to get an awful lot easier. But it doesn't necessarily work like that. In the Matrix, Neo has finally made contact with the Resistance, but this just leads to an interrogation by the agents, who encourage him to stick to his day job. When he refuses to play ball, they freeze over his mouth and insert a squirming electronic bug down his throat. Never very pleasant.

P.S. As a special added bonus, we couldn't resist sharing with you this brilliant interactive Dan Brown plot generator from The Slate. Just pick any city and group, and it will give you a ready-made Brown blockbuster...

In today's bulletin:

Britain borrowing £500m a day - but at least Lloyds wants out
Adidas, Puma kick 60-year feud into touch
Hands up if you think EMI deal was a stinker
Lack of flexibility prompts surge of 'mumpreneurs'
Harness the power of hidden influence, with YouTube

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