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Winning Over Corporate Bosses and Bullies

Ask Your Career Counselor
12:05 AM December 27, 2015

TO MANY people, Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is saying many things that aren’t nice. In Trump’s own words, “I know that it doesn’t sound nice. But not everything is nice.”

Like it or not, this world is not made for your convenience. It’s made just the way it is. The world is imperfect, cruel and unforgiving. If you think the Earth will rotate more slowly than usual to wait for you, grow up. If you think rain won’t fall on days that you don’t have your umbrella, think again. If you think people will be nice to you because you’re nice and well meaning, bullies everywhere – at home, school, work or play – will knock some sense into you.

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In life and career, you have to be strong and ready in order to succeed. Here are a few dispassionate tips:

Love yourself

People expect others to love them, often unconditionally. Give me a break. No one will love you more than yourself. No one will die for you, unless there’s a compelling reason. If you want others to die for you, you should first be willing to die for yourself. If you think that’s easy, try this. If you’re willing to die for yourself, you have to be willing to live for yourself first.

Believe me, it’s easier to die than to live. To die needs weakness – surrender, apathy, indifference, hopelessness, or guilt. To live, you have to be strong, bold, consistent, competitive, smart, and willing to fight for what is right.

Former American President Dwight Eisenhower said, “What counts is not the size of the dog in the fight – but the size of the fight in the dog.”

Worth dying for

An ideal death is at age 99, while planting trees in some denuded forest, or catching bird flu at 98 while propagating birds that eat only dengue-carrying mosquitos.

Filipino hero Ninoy Aquino said, “The Filipino is worth dying for.” Was that the reason why he died? I don’t know. Wasn’t the Filipino more worth living for?

People work and become loyal to the company. Wrong! The company is too abstract. You become loyal to something more concrete, like your boss. Bosses’ basic job is to attract people, mostly uninitiated nerds, who can be brainwashed to sacrifice themselves so that bosses don’t have to. So, when you get hired, you become a member of your boss’ army, in exchange for a modest food on your table and roof above your head.

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Sun Tzu said, “Tao is what causes people to have the same purpose as their superior. Thus they can die with him, live with him, and not deceive him.”

Stop! Think. Is your boss worth dying for? Bosses are trained to make money for the company. Everybody gets a share – more for the bosses, less for the loyal and devoted supernumeraries. Big bosses think their purpose is to make and allocate money – for the company and themselves. Lesser bosses’ and the rank and file’s purpose is to support big bosses, like henchmen protecting the executive wagon train fleeing with the money.

To succeed, rethink your role. Don’t be your bosses’ army. You should be your own army, protecting yourself. Nobody will protect you more than yourself. You don’t have to die for your boss. To survive, let others die.

Act like a parent

Why do children love their parents? Remember when you were a young kid. Your parents provided you food, clothes, and toys. In exchange, they demanded your love, respect, and loyalty. They’re never wrong, even if they were. They made you work hard – at home, school, or even at play. They make you feel guilty even if you haven’t done anything wrong. Think about it, bosses are mutated replicas of parents.

If you want to be the boss, act like a parent. To be respected, be respectable. To be loved, be kind when you have to. To be feared, be angry often. Peers, subordinates and bosses will fear you and forego any slightest idea of disadvantaging you. Demand from all their end of the bargain, even from your bosses, to show that you mean business. Praise occasionally, but inconsistently and sparingly. Don’t be too predictable, for familiarity breeds contempt. If you praise too much, people think you’re sucking up to them. Punish when opportunity presents itself – yell at subordinates (one on one) and show hurt silence with bosses whenever they displease you.

You will remind people of their parents, the original authority figure. They won’t hate you. Despite parents’ faults, Filipinos always love their parents.

Develop your assets

Life, business and careers are wars.

Gary Busey said, “Marriage is the only war where you sleep with the enemy.” Not true. In business and careers, you also sleep with the enemy everyday. You, your peers, bosses, and subordinates gleefully sip your Merlot, Chardonnay or vodka tonight, but tomorrow you impale each other with a sharp Gotcha. You work your ass out to make your team win, and when the year is over, bosses find faults in you and your teammates to see who gets fired. In this kind of war, you need to have assets in order to win.

Your first and foremost asset is yourself. Like Attila the Hun, hone your skills to outperform anybody in your team, lest you get cut off unceremoniously. Develop your network in the whole supply chain – bosses, peers, subordinates, vendors, union stewards, customers, government and community. Look for people whose self-interest is similar to yours. Your assets can get fired, transferred, or lose favor with powers that be. Have more assets than enemies by constantly developing assets and decimating enemies. As Heidi Klum said, “In life, as in fashion, one day you’re in, next day you’re out.”

Prime your assets

Once you’ve identified your army – allies and assets – prime them to fight for you. Find a compelling reason why your assets should fight for you – sublime, ridiculous, or crazy, but compelling. There’s got to be something in it for your assets, if they have to fight and die. Imagine what makes gladiators salute Caesar before they fight and die, as Caesar waves his right hand while he eats figs with his left. Assure your assets that everything will be all right. Of course, it is a lie. But in war, that lie is good. Millions died believing that lie since time immemorial. That’s what GIs were told during the Vietnam War. If they ask how long the war will take, tell the truth – say you don’t know. Then, reassure them that everything will be all right.

In this dog eats dog world, only the brave, smart, connected, paranoid, scheming, Machiavellian, and Darwinian will survive. George Bernard Shaw said, “In battle all you need is a little hot blood and the knowledge that it is more dangerous to lose than to win.”

To win, planning is crucial. In Coppola’s 1972 movie “The Godfather,” a rival family shot Vito Corleone. In revenge, son Michael volunteered to kill the mastermind Virgil Sollozzo and Police Captain McCluskey with a gun planted at the toilet of Louis’ restaurant at the Bronx. Sonny Corleone commanded his henchman Clemenza, “Plant it good. We don’t want him coming out of that toilet with nothing but his dick in his hand.”

There’s a downside, or upside, if you master my tips. You could end up the il capo de tutticapi.

(Ernie is the 2013 Executive Director and 1999 President of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP); Chair of the AMCHAM Human Capital Committee; and Co-Chair of ECOP’s TWG on Labor and Social Policy Issues. He also chairs the Accreditation Council for the PMAP Society of Fellows in People Management. He is President and CEO of EC Business Solutions and Career Center. Contact him at [email protected])

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