We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

There is a theory that suggests to be good at business you must be hard nosed, ruthless, dishonest and fight for everything. It essentially suggests that business is a form of warfare carried out by individuals against each other where the winner takes all. It states that if you’re not tough enough you shouldn’t get involved in ‘business’.

This I have learnt is complete bollocks. Yes, there are bastards out there – lots of them. But the essence of good business is cooperation and honesty. It’s about finding and working with decent and honourable people. Men and women who value what you do, pay you on time, go that extra mile for you and want to achieve the same things as you.

You can, if you desire, swim with the sharks. You may even become the biggest shark. But most of the time you will end up swimming round in circles wasting time, money, resources and energy on people who simply don’t deserve that time. And certainly aren’t paying you a fair rate for it. These people will stop you achieving your goals and add no value to your life or your business.

My advice is simple. Be the good guy or gal, fight clean and keep away from the time wasters, charlatans and arseholes.

- Rob Waller

Be warned that this is not one of those “now read the whole thing” postings. That is the whole thing, apart from the title (“On Swimming with Sharks”) and the words “end of sermon” at the very end. And now you have those words here also.

5 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Jim

    All very true, though it should be noted that one can go too far the other way. I’ve dealt with self employed people who are their own worse enemies for not being shark like enough. Not charging enough for their services when they provide service above and beyond the norm, and do high quality work too. And oddly enough I’ve noticed that people who don’t really charge enough are often treated worse by their customers than those who charge too much – because someone is cheap they aren’t valued the way an expensive person is. I guess its often down to the ignorance of the customer of the job in hand, and price becomes a proxy for quality. This bloke’s dear, he must be good, that one’s cheap he must be rubbish etc etc.

  • Snorri Godhi

    If the word “dishonest” is removed from the 1st paragraph, then i see no contradiction between the thesis of the 1st paragraph and the thesis of the 2nd paragraph. They are complementary, not contradictory.

  • Paul Marks

    A good post.

  • Laird

    Snorri, even without the “dishonest” the two paragraphs are contradictory, because business is not a zero sum game (“winner take all”). Anyone who thinks that is going to fail in the long run. Business is a complementary activity: both sides have to benefit from the trade if it’s to be an ongoing relationship (which is what most business is). And I suggest that you look up the etymology of the word “ruthless”. It’s not a useful quality in business.

  • SkippyTony

    I’ve owned/run a small consulting and services business for about ten years.

    Every bit of work done has come through word of mouth or referrals, I have given up on responding to tenders, RFPs etc – just never seem to win them.

    I was advised when I started to do many things, but the advice that has paid off most frequently:

    1. Find a way to make sure everyone at the tables gets a win that means something to them
    2. If it’s not good business for everyone, it’s not good business
    3. Deals get done by people who get things done – there are many people who talk a good game, but action, results and delivering to your commitments are everything. Make sure your reputation is for these things
    4. Make sure you know what you have signed on for at the start, or you will find out the hard way at the end

    As to the shark analogy, I deal regularly with people who are hugely competitive, incredibly determined and totally focussed on outcomes & getting what they want – that’s pretty much the definition of successful. They are only a problem if you are ignoring one or more of the above points. They are in no way amoral.

    In my experience, the people you have to watch out for are the ones who don’t get the above points, they are the people who cause chaos and disasters.

    Yes, there are people in business (as everywhere else it seems to me) who just can’t help themselves and also seem to get away with it time and time again, but it nearly always ends badly for them.

    I once worked for a CEO whose basic approach was to “say what ever you had to say to get the deal”. Dealing with the consequences was another days consideration. And when, as it inevitably does, the SHTF, if he had to front the client the default approach was “say what ever you have to say to get out of the room”. This person ruined three good businesses in a row.

    Interestingly, one by product of the latest generation of social media technologies is that it has made it a lot harder for him and his ilk to bullshit their way into new organisations