The real influencers… are the negative influencers. What to do with the Rons of the world

How to identify, and manipulate, negative people in the office

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A few years ago, Malcolm Gladwell did some great work on ‘influencers’.  I believe the book was ‘Tipping Point’.  He talked about how a few charismatic and passionate folks can  – even accidentally unconsciously – start a movement.  They create trends.  They make and break business and products.  This was the first proper academic look at ‘influencers’.  Mostly, it seemed an obscure corner of the marketing world to be aware of.  It was interesting, as is everything Gladwell does.

More recently, ‘Influencers’ has a new meaning in the era of social media.  Mostly – super beautiful people who have monetized their lifestyle.  The Kardashians, for example, can receive up to a million dollars for a single tweet.  They take and post a beautifully staged picture with a (most often) beauty product.  It is worth it for everyone.  Google tells me she has 59 million followers.  A staged photo is a LOT easier and cheaper for everyone than a full ad campaign, commercials, etc.  Likely, that single tweet has more impact than a super expensive arty commercial might have.

Influencers became another en vouge tableau with the Fyre Festival.  The criminal mastermind created an epic multiday super festival for only the super rich.  Sold millions in tickets and lodging reservations to an event that was not going to happen.  How?   Lots of pictures of super hot girls frolicking on the beach and playing with turtles pigs.  If you went to the festival, then you too would play with these same turtles pigs and supermodels.  It worked.  Dude raised millions by posting these well crafted social media moments with top influencers.  Really, this was an ad.   Seems kinda like a waking nightmare to me.

I am not here to tell you about them.  I don’t care about them, as they have no impact on my day to day life.  Odds are, they don’t on you, either.  Unless you are still waiting for a refund from Billy McFarland.

I am here to talk about the ‘negative influencers’.  You are way more likely to deal with these folks daily, and they have WAY more impact on your life.  The negative influencers are the bitchy whiny victims who people still seem to listen to.  Here is an example from the corporate world.  I worked with a guy whom we will call ‘Ron’.  That’s because its his name.  Ron bitched about everything.  He was just an energy vampire that could give Mr. Rogers a bum trip.  Ron was very smart, though.  People looked to Ron, and absorbed his feedback on things.  His feedback, of course, was always shitty.

You know how when you drop a baby, it first looks to you to see how freaked out it should be?  When a toddler takes a fall, you learn QUICKLY to put on a happy face and smile and call them tough and strong.  If they fall and look up and see your horror… they will FREAK the fuck out.  This is how people looked to Ron, for some reason.  I could announce free pizza for the office.  What is better than that?  If I told everyone together, they would say ‘great’, and then look immediately to Ron.  Ron, of course, would say some ungrateful shit like ‘pizza again?  Can’t we have something different?’. Or ‘Jesus, not from Anthony’s again, those guys suck.’

Like Jujitsu, we learned to use Ron’s momentum against him.

This is how you use and shape a negative influencer – read on

We learned if we wanted to pass an initiative, we needed Ron on our side.   Before we launched a program, we would run it by Ron.  We would pull him, and any other negative influencers, into a room and lay it all out.  Start with flattery > “Ron, you know the department as well as anyone else.  We have a program, and I want to run it by you.  Let us know if we are missing anything, and what you think.”

While I hate to validate the Ron’s of the world, this is wildly effective.  See, Ron feels valued.  Ron is the kind of guy who thinks he should run the department anyway.  By feeding him early intel, and getting early buy in… now he advocates for us.  The most important part of this is he will advocate the program behind our backs!  He feels invested in the new initiative now, and feels a partial owner.  When people are bitching about the new thing at the proverbial office water cooler, Ron corrects them.  Ron knows, or at least thinks, he has ownership in this.  Ron thinks if this succeeds, if reflects good on him.  Besides, odds are Ron really does have some valuable feedback.  He isn’t used to people soliciting it, or using it.  He will lap it up like my Lab eating peanut butter off my…   well… you know!

Instead of undermining leadership behind our backs… now he is a net promoter of the program.  Debbie taught me this years ago, and I have been using it ever since.  It works!  Go out there and put those Rons to work for you!

*** I just read this back to myself using Jon Ronson’s voice.  It was great.  You should do the same.


Friday Fives – of cellophane and goalposts

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What is something every day, yet on reflection you realize you really appreciate?

Where I live.  Every day I look out my windows and realize how amazing this is.  Every day when I arrive home, I come home to this.  Its all I ever dreamed of an 100 times more.

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What is the greatest invention ever?

Gotta go with the wheel.  Or were you thinking of something more recent?  I must once again praise the bench scraper.  I just use it for everything.  I think it is for baking or making dough, technically.  I don’t use it for that.

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also, a pair of decent spring loaded tongs is invaluable.  If that doesn’t dazzle you, then you didn’t grow up with these.  These were the entirety of kitchen tong choices for the first few thousands years of evolution.  Go ahead, try and pick something up with these.

Image result for old style kitchen tongs It would be like watching a millennial try and use a rotary phone.  I do not put that link there to mock anyone.  No sir, I am just super jealous they got to skip this dark period of humanity.

 What activity in P.E were you surprised that you were good at?

Football.  I used to run when I was younger, doing meets and track and all that.  My dad was a marathon runner.  It gave me an unexpected edge at playing football.  Mostly speed.  Being short and fast is widely useful in playing football.  I can move around those 300 pound moose men and they don’t even see me coming.  I was physically too small to play football for our high school team.  However, every day at lunch we played tackle football on the field.  All for fun.  No teachers or coaches of any of that.  Man, I really love football.  And I really hate the NFL.  I am torn.

I LOVED PE, though.  I was athletic, and it was fun and satisfying.  My opponent will tell you I was busy playing ‘smear the queer’.  That is because my opponent fucks baby pigs.  Vote Lono for Senate.  “He’s Never Helped Anybody”®

What is so traumatic and disturbing that it ruined your month or year?

I am lucky and fortunate I have not had any severe trauma or misfortune in recent years…. Or hardly ever.  So, my complaints are first world problems, I suppose.  A couple things that have really, really upset me was Chris Cornell’s suicide, and Trump being elected president.  I still can’t listen to Cornell singing, or any Soundgarden.  I believe it was truly a terrible accident, and nothing he thought through.  As for Trump, it just tells me America is still intolerant and racist and super phobic.

What is something you will only buy name brand?

Cellophane… Saran Wrap.  Don’t go generic on that, ever.  Spend the extra buck or whatever it is.  Come to think of it, I think most stuff in the kitchen you don’t want to skimp on.  pots and pans and knives and cutting boards and bowls… buy some good shit.  It will last forever.  When you are pinning a 200 pound elite athlete to a goalpost for fun (which I highly recommend)… don’t be cheap.


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Friday Fives – fan boys and Macholes

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What’s a huge waste of money that people are still paying for in 2019?

Apple products

What’s something only assholes buy?

Apple products

(tee hee hee, this is fun).  See, when my Macbook died, I wanted to replace it.  $2,000.  Instead, I bought a Chrome book that does the same stuff… for $200.

3. What’s something someone could do or say in the US that scream “I’m from Europe”?

Can I have some mayo for my fries crisps?

4. Who was the dumbest person you ever met? How did you know?

umm… pass.  can we come back to that one?

5. What’s a dumb rule or law in your city or at your work?

That pot companies can’t use banks.  It is BEYOND terrible.  First off, the pot stores aren’t going to declare and pay taxes on what they make.  Also, those folks have to leave each night with a duffel bag full of cash they can’t put in a bank.  Where do you put that money if you can’t put it in a bank?  Aren’t you just waiting to get home invaded?  The pot business is now a legal billion dollar business, and its all run in cash like the 1930s.  I don’t smoke pot, and don’t care about it one way or the other.  Since we legalized it, though, it should be bank friend.  ALL this does is drive further the underground and black market.  All the people in the Fed who have kept pot a schedule 1 narcotic should be set on fire.  They are aggressively working against the interest of humans, and I don’t get why.  Maybe the Christian Right is funding this?

I should go ask them, they are just down the way in the Springs.  I don’t know if they still run America, but they sure did when Bush Jr was president.  They were handpicking his appointees and even SCOTUS choices.

Friday Fives – maybe Oswald killed the 60s

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Is there a particular historical period or event, anywhere in the world, that fascinates you?

Oh yeah, the Kennedy shooting Dallas.  Am endlessly fascinated by that, as are many.  We even went to the site, Daley Plaza. I was in Dallas for something else… but was going to make sure I was there.  It was much smaller than I imagined. Except for the sniper building, everything was smaller than i imagined, just like Stonehenge.  You could throw a tennis ball from behind the fence to the spot where Kennedy was shot. Dudes could have thrown rocks!

Would you like to visit that time, or live in it permanently, or does the whole idea make you want to run screaming?

The latter.  As for a time and a place… a period… give me San Francisco in 66 or 67.  Not 1969. It was a meth addled shit show by then, sadly.

What’s the best piece of historical writing, nonfiction or fiction, you’ve ever read?

A Ladies Life in the Rockies – Isabella J Bird (written in the 1890s, an English woman crossing the Rockies alone on a horse.  I can not say enough good things about this book, this story, the author, or the terrific history insight.  She was a Forrest Gump of Colorado in 1896.

What’s the worst?

Our president

Is there a historical site you would love to visit?

The Alamo.  Just kidding.  No interest in that.  I wouldn’t even go if I was there.  But seriously, didn’t we just ask and answer this question above?  I suspect we did. In fact, I suspect you are reworking the same questions to see if I trip up in my answers.  Classic interrogation technique. You ain’t never gonna catch me, coppers!

  • Note, I am in hour three of a Dateline binge and… hopped up on pain meds


Friday Fives – careful with that dart, Eugene

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What is the funniest movie of all time?

Spinal Tap, being an aspiring and occasional musician that I am.  Especially when you consider the entire movie was ad libbed as they shot.  As are all of the Christopher Guest movies.  I have written many gushing pages about Spinal Tap here over the years.  If you are curious, just type Spinal Tap into that handy search engine thingy up there.  Aw heck, I went and did it for you anyway.   This search will only catch where I specifically added the term ‘spinal tap’ into a column tag.  If you do the search up there, though… it will catch any time I used those two words together.

What’s the funniest book you’ve ever read?

Interesting question.  I go through a lot of books, but rarely read for funny.  Odds are, it was a Chelsea Handler book.  Not the super recent one, though.  That one was kind of downer.  More on that here.  The most I laughed out loud was probably reading Chelsea’s ‘lies that Chelsea Handler told me‘.   It is roughly a decade of cruel and hilarious pranks and cons Chelsea has pulled on staff and friends over the years… told by them.

What sport would be the funniest to add a mandatory amount of alcohol to?

Darts!  And… the dart board should move… like on a pendulum.  Yes, good times.  This reminds me of a strange and true story I am sure I have never told.  Long long ago, and I am talking being in the single digits here, we were throwing darts at Chris’s house.  Not going to give you the last name, because the family turned out to be litigious nutjob psycho aholes… so I don’t want this post coming up randomly in a google name search ten years down the road.  I mean… fuck these guys, I can’t say enough bad things about this family (killing dogs, stealing bikes… )

Anyhoo… we were at Chris’s house throwing darts.  Where, exactly?  Well, in the driveway… throwing them at the front door, of course.  Why?  Well, we were like 8.  Plus, they had HUGE beautiful thick wooden doors.  Wait, it gets WAY stranger.  For some reason, one of the doors was open.  As we are hucking darts at the door from a considerable distance, his sister walks by.  Not walking outside, mind you… just walking from one room to another.  Well, one of us (I don’t remember who, so let’s assume it was Chris) hucks a dark and missed the door.  In the time it takes for it to leave his hand… she walks by.  Long story short, she gets a dart in the neck.  Yes, its funny now… in retrospect.  I am also happy to report that when we were 7… it was even funnier.

Did you know darts is such a thing in most countries that they watch it on television?  Like, a whispery guy discusses the plan, and the dart throwing guys all have sponsors and such.  Of course, I may have seen a selective and obscure program.  I imagine the limey bastards come here to visit and then report back that we watch bowling on TV.   Well… they may put it on TV, but I don’t think anyone is ‘watching’ it.

Who is your favorite stand up comic?

John Mulaney

Friday Fives – foolin & skoolin

April is nearly over and we are tumbling toward May and soon it will be the season of graduating. It seems like every class has a graduation now, so how about you

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Did you enjoy your senior year of high school?

Oh yes. Too much, in fact. So much so that a couple of our crew didn’t even graduate. Too busy having fun. Especially since we all turned 18 that year. Once you did that, you could get your parents to sign a form saying you were allowed to call yourself out from school. Too many parents signed that, including mine. It’s fine, I graduated and got into college. I would, however, STRONGLY advise parents not to give their 18 year olds the power to ditch school at will with no consequence.

wait, aren’t I supposed to say what all of us celebrities say about high school?  “I was a total dweeb.  I didn’t have any friends, and I was ugly.  I spent my time playing dungeons and dragons with Darryl and Darryl.  I didn’t have any social skills, it was a nightmare.”

not true for me.  I was decently popular, had some wonderful friends, and just a perfect life.  Plus, I had long hair… so I was cool.  At least, that is the story I am telling.  Jamie, I do not need you to pipe in here.  I wasn’t good looking jock class president, but you can see I didn’t not aspire to be those things.  I did play football, have always loved football.  I was too scrawny to play proper.  So, we played at lunch on the football field every day.  Tackle, of course!

Did you have a senior trip (high school) and were you able to go on it.

No. Not to my knowledge, at least. It’s a bummer. I would have LOVED to do one of those exchange student things. Go live in France for a semester and live with a family. I got to do that in college in Mexico, and it was amazing.

Was graduating (from either high school or college/university) a big thing with your family or just another day?

I am very proud to say it was just another day. My parents put a premium on education, and my mom was a teacher. Both my parents are college grads, and everyone of their children (my two brothers and I) graduated college. There is I, the youngest, and then Scotty and Johnny.

What were you looking forward to the most after graduating from either high school or college/university?

Being able to choose my education, and class times. For example, I signed up for algebra my freshman year, at 7:45 am. This was a big mistake on SO many levels. I learned it is impractical for me to take any class before 10 am. Especially since I was not living on campus my first year.  Getting to choose my own classes was HUGE.   I guess they have ‘electives’ in high school now, but they didn’t 30 years ago.

That is when ASU really cheesed me off.  Sorry to swear, but I am passionate.  I quickly discovered a love for psychology.  Psychology is amazing.  perhaps you are thinking of therapy when you think of studying psychology.  No sir.  Psychology is in every single interaction in your life.  It affects your relationships, your job, your well being.  It is super fascinating.  ASU wouldn’t let me take any classes beyond the 101 and 102.  I had to be a declared Psych major to take more classes.  I am, as you will see, still pissed about this.   So, you have classes available?  and there is room in the classroom right now?  and I pay you guys all this money?  and I just want to show up and learn… and that isn’t an option?  Well… fuck you, buddy!  I left ASU after my freshman year and moved up to Flagstaff.

I wish I could tell you I graduated with my psych degree at NAU.  I didn’t.  I chickened out, thinking “what would I do with that?”  I mean, I know it is wickedly valuable as a human to understand humans… but how would that pay the bills?  I certainly didn’t want to be a therapist.  I need a practical degree that will get me rollin in the Benjamins… er… Hamiltons.   So… um… I got a literature degree.  I had no, and still have no, intention of teaching.  that’s ok, I don’t know if any of my friends or associates who are working in the field that they majored in.

Teachers in AZ for the public schools make about $16 an hour.   Even better?  They expect you to get a masters at the very least.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your graduating self?

Learn a trade. A skill. If you have a trade (something physical: plumber, electrician…) you can work anywhere. You can’t get outsourced to the Philippines, which I have been several times being in telecom for 22 years. My pops was totally against the concept of physical labor for a living. He thought that was beneath him. He didn’t fix things, he hired people to fix things. I think he was quite proud of this. My dad’s philosophy was ‘work smart, not hard’. I like Mike Rowe’s philosophy, which is work smart AND hard. There is nothing wrong with hard work and being handy. I am now pretty handy, and I am super proud of that. I didn’t grow up restoring the old Jeep Willis with my pops in the garage.

It’s possible he didn’t know the difference between a flathead screwdriver and a Philips. Here is an example. He had 3 perfectly healthy boys. And we had a big ass hard. He hired Mexicans to mow the lawn. That is SO silly. We should have been mowing the lawns. Again, he felt that was beneath us. I am not mad or sad, because his intentions were awesome. Just not at all practical. Especially now that I am a homeowner. I am still learning how to fix stuff. It isn’t pretty. Generally, when I am ‘fixing’ something, I initially break it worse. But then, I know what I am going. Here is a practical example – first time I replaced and installed a garbage disposal under the sink… took me 3 hours. Second time I did one, it took me 30 minutes.

Friday Fives – things I can’t do edition

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What normal thing can’t you do?

Ok, so we are just going to get right into this, huh?  No handshake or small talk?  Ok, iron a dress shirt!  I wear one every day, and I pay to have them dry cleaned.  Whenever I iron a dress shirt, it just puts creases in different places.  I can only iron maybe a handkerchief.  Small and round and square – just like you!

I am not proud of the fact I dry clean my shirts, but it is a ‘time is money’ sort of thing.  Just like changing the oil on my truck.  I can do it.  BUT… the time it would take me to do it would be hours. I  have to take off all the skid plates and such.  Whereas a garage has a lift and an impact wrench and he can do it in 15 minutes.  That is worth $50 to me.  It is something I truly believe as I get older (47)… time is money.  In every sense.  and in every sense I have more money than time.  As the late Mitch Hedburg joked “I am set for LIFE.  If someone shoots me tomorrow.”

What do you personally hate the smell of?

Fritos corn chips.  Am lucky the wife doesn’t like them.  Don’t even want them in my house.  I wish I had a great or funny story about fritos broke up my parents marriage or something.  I don’t.

People who make their bed in the morning every day, what are the rest of us missing out on?

Don’t know, as I am not one of those who make the bed every day.  You knew that, though, didn’t you?  What are you doing in my bedroom?  And since you are clearly there spying, you might as well make the bed for me.

What is the most pointless thing that actually exists?

A month ago I would have told you the treadmill.  You need a $5K machine to fucking walk?  You sicken me!  BUT… I have been using the one at the office and it is glorious.  Though it is April, it is still winter in Colorado.  We just had another blizzard 2 days ago.  Our second blizzard (not snow storm, mind you… but blizzard) in a month.  I walk the treadmill and read and I am smitten.

What is your best use of an item or object that clearly was not made for such use?

Qtips for the ears.  I know the ONE thing they tell you about Qtips is to not stick them in my ears.  I do it every day, you crackers!  I tell you that to tell you this – what else are they for?  I truly have no idea.  They seem to be marketed to women.  So, is it a makeup removal thingy?  Please do tell in the comments.  Do be sure to write it down, I can’t hear a damn thing these days.