A shepherd is herding his flock in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advances out of a dust cloud towards him.

The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, Ray-Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out of the window and says to the shepherd: "If I tell you exactly how many sheep you have in your flock, will you give me one?"

The shepherd looks at the man, who is obviously a yuppie, then turns to his peaceful, grazing flock and calmly answers, "OK, why not?"

So the yuppie parks his car, whips out his IBM Thinkpad, connects it to his mobile phone, surfs the Internet and finds a NASA site. Then, using the Web site, he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system and scans the area.

Next he opens up a database and an Excel spreadsheet with complex formulas and after a few minutes he prints out a 150-page report on his high-tech, miniaturised printer.

Eventually he turns to the shepherd and says, "You have exactly 1,586 sheep."

"That's correct," says the shepherd. "You can take one of the sheep."

He watches as the young man selects one of the animals and bundles it into his car, then says: "Hold on a minute, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my sheep?"

"OK, why not?" answers the young man.

"That's easy," says the shepherd, "You're a consultant."

"That's spot on," says the yuppie, clearly amazed, "but how did you guess that?"

"There was no guessing required," answers the shepherd. "You turned up here, even though nobody called you. You expect to get paid to give me an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked, and you don't even know a thing about my business. Now give me back my dog."

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