The Pygmies are Taking Over the World

As an entrepreneur, I have created many businesses. And these businesses need certain advisers like lawyers and accountants. Like many of you, these “species”, and I use the word advisedly, are not my most favourite people as they cost me lots of money and don’t appear to deliver much value.

Recently I was with one of these advisers and the conversation was not pleasant. In fact it made my blood boil. In a nutshell, I was asked, point blank, why I wasn’t making more money currently. Notwithstanding the incredible rudeness of the question, I was appalled that this came from an adviser that I have had for over 20 years and who has seen me create and build companies with multi-million valuations. I’m not known for being slow to anger but I was too flabbergasted to respond – which, I expect, was taken for acquiescence. I felt belittled by someone who has been happy to take a huge sum of money from me over a long period of time, yet clearly felt that they were somehow better than me, if only because they were making a solid, steady income and I, like all entrepreneurs, was on the financial roller coaster that we know so well.

What really annoyed me was that I haven’t discussed my new business with this adviser since I set it up a few years ago. So he (yes of course it’s an “alpha” male) has no idea what the philosophy is behind it. Had he chosen to ask, he’d have learnt that I no longer have a desire to be mega rich or rule the world, and that with two small children, I’d rather spend time with them than working all the hours in the day. In short, my needs are a lot simpler now.

So where am I going with this? Well I’ve started to look around and listen more carefully, and I am becoming increasingly concerned at how, in the United Kingdom at least, this seems to be a prevalent theme. As a mentor to board level directors and senior managers, I am used to being around leaders (and was one myself until quite recently) so I worry that if this level of insolence, and indeed intolerance, continues, it will become the endemic culture of a large number of companies. And as many of them are international, the tentacles of this unpleasant behaviour will spread far and wide and rapidly.

People who are adept at delivering the quick one liner put down are actually not being clever – they are bullies. They might get an instant reaction of “approval” from those around them but they will never be liked. Pitied yes and feared certainly, but never liked. And by behaving in this way they demonstrate that they are narrow minded and “little” people.

If the world is being taken over by pygmies, I need to find a blowpipe. Fast!

5 Comments

  1. I also love the world of business; it’s one of the best games in town but we both agree not the only game. Thanks to your core process work, I now realise that my style is to encourage not to lead. It means that I am not an entrepreneur or alpha male but have made a difference to business.

    If it’s any comfort, I’ve been asked “if you’re so bloody clever why aren’t you rich”

    Don’t reach for the blowpipe yet; stand up to them with your usual elegant wit.

    Jonathan

  2. Why anybody thinks they can perform at 120% “just for the money” never made sense to me. If you loose sight of your values and have the the right heading for your internal compass then it will surely come back and bite you.

    And you can’t hide what really lies inside you from others for very long.

  3. Bullies are often working from a position of insecurity and fear based on an unusually strong attachment to ego.

    Quite often a bully’s behaviour is entrenched before they are 7 years old – parents beware.

    Accordingly, bullying can also be infectious and get passed not only down families but spread in companies. To reverse the downward spiral that entails is tricky but not impossible and it can be dealt with withing a matter of hours or days.

  4. I guess it is all about values. It would seem to me that your advisor is rather a simple creature with rather a limited set of values. Is his personal life a bomb site? I bet it is.

  5. For many years I have used the phrase “intellectual pygmies” as an eputhet to describe those time-serving, blockers in sinecure jobs who chuck the proverbial “bucket of cold water” over the sparks of innovation.

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