Just now walked back into my office after… yeah, I know… watching The Apprentice.
I feel odd, too. The wonderful woman I share my life with disagrees whole-hearted with me on this, and we usually agree.
But this time, I actually felt something other than raw amusement at the end of the show. I’ve always known that Trump is just a royal prick, and I have zero respect for him. If you’ve heard him speak, and you have a different opinion, I would be astonished.
He’s very insecure, he’s a bully, and he surrounds himself with oily sycophants whose main job is to kiss his butt and fluff his sour ego. If Trump was an oddity in business, it would merely be entertaining. But he’s just the most visible example of a breed that dominates capitalism.
Emulate him if you must… but know that you will be required to kill off every scrap of integrity in your soul to attain his position in life.
The guy he fired tonight, though a bit of a fool, at least has integrity. He threw himself on the barbed wire, and part of me respects him for that. In that kind of situation — trapped in a game where someone has to be sacrificed, and no one deserves it… the good leader steps up. People make fun of alpha apes in the wild, because they’re lazy and selfish… but when danger approaches, they never hesitate to throw themselves in harm’s way.
I’ve talked with a lot of guys who’ve been in deadly combat. And they all say the same thing: You cannot tell beforehand who will chicken out, and who will step up. The big, strong guy with the beligerent mouth can turn out to be a coward… and guys like Audie Murphy — who was described as looking like a girl scout — are dismissed and ingored and belittled… until they prove themselves, astounding their doubters.
It’s not ego and bragging that grease the skids of success. It’s action. Maybe you believe Trump is a man of action and decisiveness… and maybe you could prove it to me. But I’ve seen a lot of people in power in my time, and I’ve become a fair judge of character. And Trump doesn’t measure up. How do you think he would have acted, put in the situation of the guy he let go?
Tonight’s episode had all the trappings of a Shakespearean tragedy — lots of choices to make, none of them easy or good. The young man who got the boot understood, and protected those he felt responsible for. So far, he’s the ONLY contestant who’s shown a scrap of leadership and integrity.
And it got him fired.
Yeah, he screwed up, a bit. And yeah, it’s a silly game, after all. (The absurdity of asking young people to become experts at jingles in a single evening is like a plot designed in hell — and when you add the fact that veteran admen know jingles are mostly worthless sales tools anyway, the situation becomes farce.)
In my career, I have studied under the best in the biz — legendary salesmen and writers and entrepreneurs who have an uncanny sense of being able to work themselves into a position to be successful, against all odds. And yet, I’ve seen them take the fall, too. Even when they could have taken the easy way out.
Seeing that, in my learning years, kept me in this crazy meta-game of business. Much of what I saw during my time behind the thrones of so many corporations actually sickened me. I have a romantic side that I just couldn’t squelch, and often I felt that quirk would eventually disqualify me from being successful.
Because so many of the truly successful people I encountered were just rotten bastards.
Fortunately, I found heroes scattered among the selfish cowards and bullies. People who didn’t flinch when tough decisions had to be made… and that jived with how I was brought up. To take responsibility, even if it meant getting burned.
Screw Trump. He may have the bucks, but he’s hollow. And like the cowardly blowhards of talk radio, he cannot handle confrontation. (It’s true — look up the story about him and Merv Griffin, a business opponent Trump thought he could demolish easily… until Griffin ate Donald’s lunch, over and over. Then look up the recent lawsuit Trump has brought against a small-time author who said some things he didn’t like. Petty, ego-driven nonsense. Real men don’t “get even” when they’re wrong.)
It’s complex, I know. The kind of romantic “stand up for something” attitude I’m talking about is what got the Light Brigade butchered in the Crimea… they became legends, but they didn’t live to know it.
You gotta make your own decisions in life. Right now, the guys hogging the limelight tend toward the Machiavellian rather than a more pure code of honor. In game theory, that’s what works much of the time.
But winning is about more than just amassing bucks and beating down the other guy. Please trust me on this.
I guess I have “beer” morals in a world dominated by “champagne” entitlement.
I can’t believe this episode riled me up so much.
The only thing I wish had happened… was that the guy who got fired had the sense to stand up and turn his back on Trump before he could deliver his patented “Yer fired!” bombast. In other words, fire Donald, and quit with dignity.
Or, screw dignity. Give The Donald the finger as you leave the boardroom. Get the last word in, and live in infamy.
Okay, I’m done. I feel better, too. Something about this integrity thing just got my blood moving.
P.S. I had to disable the comments for a while, because some Swedish spammers were sending tsunami’s of spam. Beat them down, and comments are again welcome. Feel free to rain on my parade or support my hair-brained notions, to your heart’s content. Always happy to hear what people have to say…
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