Saturday, May 6, 2017

Option B: "Since I don't want it you can have it"

I was reading Adam Grant's April 23rd '17 post on Linkedin "When you get fired or fail big, this is how you bounce back" when I realized how flawed his advice is.

Professor Grant talks about Sarah Robb O’Hagan, who bounced back from apparent misfortune in her early 20s to become global President of Pepsi brand Gatorade and more recently CEO of Flywheel. Grant is saying O'Hagan's success is due to her realization that what was bad in her early days failures was neither hers nor her boss's fault, but the fault of the "relationship" between her work and herself.

"When we get fired or fail at work, we typically have one of two reactions. The first is to blame our boss. He was out to get me. She was threatened by me. The second is to blame ourselves. It was all my fault." -Adam Grant
"Most of the time, when someone fails, it’s not because there’s a bad apple spoiling the barrel. It’s because the barrel is a bad relationship."

Blaming a bad relationship with the workplace, huh ?

1. Early stage careers are almost guaranteed to hit stump blocks, so O'Hogan's travails are not unique, but rather typical. Ms. O'Hagan's stumbles, or anyone else's engaged in an ambitious career, are to be expected. Dealing with adversity early on in life is character-building. I will go as far as saying it is necessary.

2. Blaming worker-workplace relationship, if it absolves individual responsibility, is a path to failure. Fortunately it seems O'Hagan didn't follow Professor Grant's advice and owned her failures, otherwise how can I explain her self-blame for her second-firing and the more recent "Extreme You" movement. Why is wrong to blame that relationship ? It's wrong simply because it places the locus of control outside yourself.

Of course, Grant is out there selling the book he co-authored with celebrity COO Sheryl Sandberg, Option B [I have not read it]. Option B might be a good book to learn about recovering from personal loss or tragedy, but I wouldn't read it for getting wealthy or for getting the C-level career.

Sheryl Sandberg talking about how to overcome income inequality it's like Donald Trump talking about how to stave off hunger when you go hungry to bed.

What billionaire Sheryl Sandberg doesn't tell you: that she is the establishment, prominently, literally and extensively. Looking over Facebook Q4 2016 earnings, Sheryl made $38 MM last year. Let's take Sandberg out of this for a moment. Don't read or listen to any of those CEOs. If you are looking for career advice, just don't. Unless these people are retired, are with one foot in their grave or something, they're never going to give you sensible career advice. They're just not. They're not going to tell you how many people they've stabbed behind their backs, how many people they've short changed, how many competitors they've buried. They'are just going to sugar pop you and give you something palatable to swallow. And that will get you nothing in the end !


3. Back to the original article, I believe in taking responsibility for your failures. Take responsibility for your failures AND for not knowing HOW TO HANDLE your boss. Handling your boss is still YOUR responsibility, NOT your boss's. Taking responsibility is not the same as blaming, blaming assumes a poisoned mind looking for a scapegoat of sorts. Your responsibility is to safe handle a dangerous animal, because, yes, a boss is a dangerous animal who's not out there to make your life better or easier. Only by correcting yourself you have a chance, if any, of manhandling mistakes and misfortunes. How else are you going to get back on the saddle ?
"She saw that her failure wasn’t personal; it was relational." -Prof. Grant

4. Not so. All failures are your own. That is, if you take responsibility for it. We live in a society that likes victimization. The victim mentality is deeply rooted in our culture. The victim mentality assures an easy comfortable position. No effort is required to be a victim, and you can wallow in self pity as long as you wish. As opposed to the victim mentality, you should take responsibility for everything, including being in the wrong place [job] at the wrong time. Taking responsibility doesn't NOT mean playing the blame game.

For today I'll take out my red pen and write a big D on Prof. Grant's article.

Onto my title, since they don't want it, they'll let me have Option B*. If that's what they mean, I say: No, thanks ! I know what I want. It is not Option B. It is not being a failure or a victim. I'll have what you're having for dinner, Cesar. I know it's not going to be easy, but nobody said I was easy.

You may wish to check if you have a bullshit detector. or, check out those tech rhinos ...
*Option B in here doesn't mean the titled book.


  1. This blog gives the most accurate account of the corporate arms race to the top. Glad I found you.

  2. I'm a CEO and I can say it's cutthroat out there. You see us tireless promoters but that's only the tip of the iceberg.

  3. I think we need not place Sheryl and Trump in the same category. They're just different people.

    1. I am not saying they are not different people. While the mechanisms of wealth acquisition are different, these two are engaging hardcore in the central task of leaders: manipulating the public opinion. They do that insidiously or surreptitiously: it is the side dish of influence.

      It does not matter whether they want to save the whales or kill the whales. From the standpoint of the up-and-coming guy you're faced with the same roadblocks. Do you think they're just going to give in and let you have it ?

      Pull the rug from under Sheryl's feet and see how quick she starts shooting you daggers...[just kidding]


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