The Bane Of Integrity

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.

Stay frosty.

John Carlton

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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  • I’m glad to hear ya say it. It was hard to watch. Jill Stevenson, who sang on the show, recorded with me once. Beautiful voice:

    They say people are doing the best they can. Giving Trump the finger is the best I can do right now 😉

  • Buckaroo says:

    I agree big time!

    Trump’s agrument not to fire the two guys in the boardroom was lame ass.

    Use another war example:

    If you were in the heat of battle…who would you fault if you lost. The guys who jumped into the trenches, fought the hearts and souls out to the death. Or the pathetic little pukes who stood back and wouldn’t fight because they didn’t know how to shoot a gun, or worse, had to observe some holiday.
    Crazy Town!!!

  • John Rinaldi says:

    Very cool insights:
    1. Premise IS flawed from the get-go. If you look at all the influencers in sales a jingle doesn’t get them social proof, reciprocity, authority, consitency or anything else. Nothing to drive sales.

    2. He did have integrity. No one deserved to be fired. I only fault the guy for going back to the boardroom with anyone. He should have looked at the situation and said “I’m fired” and left on his own. Giving Trump the finger would have been childish.

    3. Beer morals in a world of champagne entitlements? You start writing great stuff like that and I start to worry that you are communicating on the “other” plane ala Halbert.

    John R

  • Nick says:

    I don’t watch much TV, but I do know that even though it’s billed as reality tv it’s about as real as a strippers love for a fat middle-aged man with a pocket full of money. They’re all scripted from start to finish.

    Besides TV shows about nice guys doing the right thing don’t get blogged by world class copywriters.

  • Joe says:

    Hey John,

    Well my take on all this is you’re either a stand up guy, or your not.
    Everybody human and so everyone doesn?t always do the right thing all the time. Their full of shit if they say they do. Like I say about my kids I wish for them each to be good persons in their own right. Just treat people with respect, whether it?s the guy pumping your gas or the toll collector, whom ever.

    I think Trump has integrity he’s a straight shooter. What you see is what you get. I dont know what you mean about being a coward . I think he’s just used to daling with unscrupulous, tough as nails business people who would steal his eyes for a nickel. So he lets these kids have it with both barrels. They should know, when they sit down in front of Trump…as well in life… U better have your shit together . That?s the big bad world looking across the table at them, unflinching and snarling.
    Best Joe C

  • Patty says:

    I can’t believe I was thinking the same thing you were about that show. I usually respect Trump’s decisions in the boardroom but this week it was pretty lame. All I could think was “What an ***hole!” The way he got down on this guy was just wrong. I do not know why he took it either. I don’t care who he is, if it was me I would have stood up said “Screw you MR. TRUMP!” And then walked out.

    Who knows maybe the guy DID do that but they made him come back and do a retake to make it look good! After all, we have to keep Trump looking good!

  • John,

    I too get frustrated with the show at times. It’s hard
    not to watch if your a true entrepeneur though.

    This show is full of employees. They aren’t aren’t
    true salespeople most of the time.

    Since I have an inside track into the world of
    Reality TV, and have always been involved in
    some crazy sales biz, my friends always ask…

    “Why don’t you try out for the Apprentice?”

    The answer to that is simple. I have no desire to
    work for the Donald.

    The dude is a incredibly shallow, and the job would
    suck. I’d write the dude some copy, but there’s a
    slim chance I’d put on a suit and tie for the guy.

    What baffles me is the total incompetence of the
    contestants. These guys are a joke, and I have to
    assume that the casting director does this on purpose.

    This definitely can’t be the cream of the crop of applicants.

    They need some controversy, and stuff to sell commercials.
    Why do you think the fat, obnoxious lawyer was on there?
    Cmon, Trump would never of hired that guy and you know it.

    Considering the show has been on for a few years, it’s
    mind-boggling that these players still don’t have a clue.

    Here’s an example.

    Trump says: “How many do you want to bring back to the
    boardroom, 2 or 3?”

    Dumbass Contestant: “Mr. Trump, can I just bring back 1?”

    Here’s what they need to be doing…

    If Trump asks whether or not you want to bring back 2 or 3,
    you say 4. It’s all about the odds.

    Trump hates bad math.

    Almost every time these idiotic contestants will choose to
    bring 2 people to the boardroom when it was blatantly clear
    that Trump wanted them to bring 3.

    Total Fools!

    Not only do you need to bring the maximum amount of
    people back, but geez, you should have a decent idea on
    who Trump will and won’t fire. It’s not too hard to figure
    out what the guy does and doesn’t like.

    I’d smoke those chumps on that show, and when it came
    done to the last 2 people, Me vs the last contestant, that’s
    when I would quit the show and give the Don the Boot.

    “Dissing The Don”

    Now that sounds like a great reality show.

    I’d parlay my fame into much more then what the Don
    intended on paying me.


    Profit Moffatt

    PS: A similar thing goes with Survivor. Most of the contestants
    don’t realize that there is much more to be made then just
    a million dollar prize.

    The odds of winning cash in Survivor is extremely small compared
    to how simple it is to gain fame and fortune.

    Instead of plotting out how to get the grand prize all the time, I would
    constantly be thinking how to monetize every second the camera
    was on me.

    Maybe I’d write the name of my website in charcoal across my chest.

    Or go naked like Richard and write it on my cheeks.

  • Jason says:

    “If Trump asks whether or not you want to bring back 2 or 3,
    you say 4. It?s all about the odds.”

    If everyone did the math in life, they’d all be rich.

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