Sorry. Please forgive my French.
I’m just enjoying a little smidgen of righteous outrage over this last Apprentice show. I don’t watch much network TV — terrified of brain rot — but this show hasn’t yet jumped the shark.
It’s still riveting, for both the business aspects, and (sigh) the Jerry Springer-style interpersonal shit.
For me, it’s like watching a horror show. I’m taken back to my days in the corporate womb, where I slowly got sucked into the games and back-biting and gossip… just like the show… until, finally…
I got fired.
Good God, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I took the fall for a screw-up by the marketing vice president. Somebody had to go, and it was me. This, after I’d been booted into a no-win middle management position, without sufficient staff, without support by other departments, without a net.
For three months, I worked like a dog, up at dawn, swimming as fast as I could all day long, and collapsing late at night into bed, further behind than when the day had started.
Weekends — gone. Social life — gone.
Self-respect — gone.
I left the corporate world shaken at what I’d seen. All the qualities I valued — working my way through problems on my own schedule, taking a few well-thought-out risks here and there, questioning the wisdom of my “superiors” when that wisdom clearly sucked, sharing the glory — were huge liabilities in the office.
My last three months were like a slow-motion train wreck. I’m sure I was fabulous entertainment for my colleagues… and toward the end, I even stopped eating lunch with those people who had been my buddies the previous two years.
They could smell the death on me.
Again, however, getting canned was a huge relief. I took a few months off, travelled up and down the California coast, slept in my car and on couches and beaches, and eventually wound up in LA, where my freelance career began in earnest.
Watching the Apprentice helps me relive the horror of those years in that Silicon Valley office. But I get to relive it from a safe distance, which makes it a rather pleasurable thrill. Like I’d escaped the dragon’s lair, and lived to tell about it.
And I’ll say it again: Trump is a total prick.
His cover is blown by his sheer glee at pouncing on wounded ducks. You gotta be ruthless, he implies. You gotta crush people who attack you. You gotta take huge risks.
Blah, blah, blah.
The world he lives in is a zero-sum game. For him to win, somebody else has to lose. That’s bullshit. If you’ve ever participated in a joint venture or affiliate program, you KNOW that business can be win-win, easily.
Only a sociopath believes in crushing people while earning a buck. That’s starvation-thinking, acting like we’re all in a rowboat adrift in the ocean, and there’s not enough sustenance for everybody.
Should you actually find yourself in a rowboat, adrift, you may have to decide if you’re gonna eat the weakest to survive. But until then, enjoy the bounty of the world as it really is.
There’s plenty for everybody. There’s even enough for you and your colleagues to get filthy, stupid rich.
The worst part is, Trump encourages back-stabbing and disloyalty. He loves it… like he’s watching a cockfight. The only apprentice, so far, who’s shown any backbone is the one who got the axe tonight. He’s a bit of a putz himself, but he had a dollop of the one thing Trump had previously claimed was important: Loyalty. He just refused to trash his colleague, even though his neck was on the block.
And it got him canned.
It’s been twenty-five years since I last worked for a corporation… and it’s only tonight that I finally see where the real horror there came from — the utter lack of humanity.
People run scared too easily in the office. Their precious “job”, with all the warmth and benefits and security it’s supposed to provide, becomes thier identity and reason for existing.
One of my big problems was always showing up at eight a.m. sharp, with tie cinched up. What was the point? I often worked hours later than everyone else, focused on deadlines instead of some imaginary daily scorecard.
I mean, wasn’t the deadline the thing we were supposed to be focused on?
And that was wrong. That attitude violated an integral rule of the corporate beast: Though shalt obey mindless authority without question.
Reminds me of the time I pulled up behind some cars at a traffic light that was obviously on the fritz, stuck on red. We waited, and waited… and then I pulled around, bumped up briefly on the curb, and went on my way. The red light, so obviously broken, no longer represented authority.
It was BROKEN.
And defying the taboo of running it doesn’t automatically qualify as anarchy. You take turns, you go slow, you watch out for the other guy and show a little common courtesy.
But you get on with it.
Yet, as I motored away, I could see those other cars still sitting there, waiting for permission to proceed from a light that wasn’t gonna change.
And you know what? It wouldn’t surprise me if one of those drivers had hopped on their cell phone to “turn me in” for running the light.
How DARE I defy the rules?
Thank God we live in this country, where entrepreneurism thrives.
Most of the entrepreneurs I know well don’t “do” back-stabbing. (There are those who engage in this practice, but they never become my friends. Nor do they last long in the biz.)
In fact, it’s just the opposite.
The generosity and help you receive from fellow entrepreneurs can take your breath away. Metaphorically speaking, many would chew their own arm off, it you needed one.
It’s the Golden Rule. I just recently had someone do a job for me, and screw it up royally. And you know what? I took the blame. The client never heard about the failings, or the drama… and he never heard an excuse.
I took a hit, financially, and we just got on with setting things right. The error was understandable, and certainly not a firing offense. As we say: All errors made from enthusiasm are forgivable.
It never even occurred to me to waste time assigning blame.
Long ago, Gary Halbert took a hit for me. He could have easily stepped aside, pointed out my error, and come out smelling like a rose. But he didn’t. He absorbed the blame, and we moved on.
Bob Pierce, my longtime client and friend, has also done this many times when people he trusted with projects did a FUBAR.
Heck, I could fill pages with examples like this. I learned long ago that finding someone to take the blame was a loser’s game. (Hey, that rhymes.)
Who cares if someone is to blame for some mistake? Identify the problem, fix it, and make sure it doesn’t happen again. In business, there’s actually a fair chance it WILL happen again, anyway. But if you’re making progress, the problems are ususally less of a challenge the next time.
You may have to fire someone at some point. It happens. In the entrepreneurial fields, we thrive on being self-starters, and responsible finishers. Anyone who sits around waiting for micro-management needs to go drop some resumes off at Trump, Inc.
Where you can perform cage-fights for The Donald, ripping off your colleagues’ heads vying for the badge of Biggest Bully.
You can have it.
Or, am I way off base here?
What do you think? I know you bastards are reading this blog, because of the email I get. Don’t email me — share your wisdom here, in the comments section. Some of the stuff you send me is brilliant, but if you don’t post it, it never goes anywhere.
David, Phil, Scott, John… Gary… and both of you mega-talented redheads. You know who you are. And everyone else, whether I know you personally or not.
Share the love, guys.
P.S. Okay, it looks like the Website for the updated Freelance Course has been cursed, and won’t be up for… I dunno how long. It’s in the hands of my tech guy, who swears it’s close.
But I’ve lost patience.
So… starting on Tuesday, I am going to laboriously email each and every one of you who has emailed me about the course, and send you a PDF.
And, because you were among the first to contact me, you’ll get a special deal. I’ll honor this deal for anyone else who cares to email me before I start sending out the PDF next week.
Consider it a “sneak peek”. With special privileges no one else will ever get.
Have a great weekend. I hope, if you work during it, you’re working on your own projects, and not for the Man…
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