Lessons from Rodney


Paul Munnis

In times of stress, comedians try to show us the absurd side of our thinking and behavior. It produces a laugh as we see ourselves through fresh lenses. The comedian Rodney Dangerfield never tired of showing us that to get respect one must earn it. It does not come free, and some never acquire respectability. He showed us why we fail at attainment.

We have been offered two sets of rules to live by. One is set forth in a book called “The Prince,” by Machiavelli. The book shows how to manipulate people to gain wealth and power. The other set of rules is set forth in the Biblical Book of Moses which lays down Ten Commandments for right living and which the New Testament fleshed out even further giving us a mandate to live with respect for the individual. Eastern religions go further and encourage man to be reverent towards all living things.

Should you find yourself managing an enterprise this is no longer just an abstraction, it represents the essence of choosing your management style, the practices you will follow, and the criteria by which you will conduct business since daily business is conducted in concert with or through other people it comes down to a question of human relations.

I worked for a company who’s motto was “THINK” and who’s business ethic was “Respect For the Individual.” They meant it too, I attended many a sales meeting and buyers would ask for our thoughts on how how we compared to the competition and we always said that we did not disparage our competitors we could only promise to deliver what we promised and then assure customer satisfaction. I saw deal after deal close with a handshake on that basis. I saw customer satisfaction delivered under life threatening conditions. That was all done by people who believed in what they were doing.

Later, when I had my own company and held training classes for them I announced to them that I would be calling them in to meet with me to develop a Career Plan for each of them. That perplexed them and the first guy told me he wanted to become a certified welder. Since I was in the computer business he didn’t think I’d have any use for a welder. I told him to locate a trade school, find out the costs, and tell me the work hours he needed. He was amazed when I paid his tuition and he graduated. I had a customer who needed a good welder and sent him by, and was rewarded with a contract for $120,000 dollars. I made $34,000 profit that was a 10X ROI with interest. It was the best $300 I ever spent and I had put his tuition on my credit card.

When I look at Politicians in America, no matter what Party I find devotees of “The Prince.” They openly preach an ethos of exploitation. But when I look at Politicians who attain the status of “Statesman,” I encounter people who set aside Party Politics and work out solutions based upon “Respect For the Individual.”

Right now I am witnessing an Administration failing because their methods are those of “The Prince.” I have no pity for them, asking them to change is like asking a tiger to change his stripes.

One reason that I have chosen the Democratic Party is that their platform is based upon what is right for the individual: healthcare, civil rights, peace over war but war when it is the last option open for the benefit of all involved. I don’t always agree with methods attempted and sense that we would catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, so to speak. I seldom see the Prince’s ethos a success in a democracy but often used by autocrats.

If you read this, meditate for a while on the subject. What you conclude will determine your future in any endeavor that involves people and that is to say: most endeavors.