What I learned about business from a homeless guy.
I must confess. I read the NY Post.
It all started because I was reading Broadway gossip columnist (and former podcast guest), Michael Riedel. But then, well, I got sucked into their tabloid treatment of the news wormhole, and I can’t get out! (Side note: I find it fascinating that despite its heavy circulation in the city and environs, Broadway shows rarely advertise in its pages or on its site.)
But despite the Post‘s obvious agendas, I still pick up a few pointers every so often, including this little tidbit I got from an article they posted yesterday.
The story was all about a green-shirted homeless dude who has been standing in Times Square with a sign that reads, “F–k You! Pay Me!” In addition, the guy hurls obscenities at passersby, and seems to just hate a whole lot of folks. From what I read in the article, he’s obviously a little off his you-know-what, and could use some legitimate help (like so many of the city’s homeless, sadly).
The not-so-funny thing was, his crazy antics actually reminded me of a couple of people I do business with.
The more you work in any business, but especially this one, which involves a lot of emotion and a lot of drama, you’re going to eventually bump into some people who do a lot of crazy things. They act irrationally, they demand the absurd, and some of them even hurl obscenities. (I know one guy who hurled a stapler at an assistant, and another who hurled a Diet Coke at an executive.)
There was a time in my career when this kind of behavior so upset me, in the same way that it would upset me if I saw the green-shirted guy in Times Square screaming at tourists. And if I was dealing with those folks, I’d try to reason with them. I’d explain my rationale. And the next thing you know, I’d want to hurl something myself! I’d find myself filled with anxiety, and sitting up at night . . . while they probably slept super soundly.
And I’d end up nowhere.
Because the fact is, you can’t reason with the irrational.
Once you realize this, you can deal with it a whole lot better.
See, nothing I say to the guy in Times Square is going to get him to stop. So now, I just walk on the other side of the street, and wait until he burns himself out and goes somewhere else. And nothing you say or do is going to get some of the people you run into to stop whatever is driving their behavior.
So don’t try.
Recognize what you’re dealing with as early as you can, and then avoid it as much as possible. There are plenty of rational people to do business with. Work with them. Your life, and your business, will be a whole lot better.
And if you have no choice but to deal with someone who might be a little unstable, well, then, don’t fight with ’em. Agree with them on everything they rant about . . . and you’ll find it easier to get what you want.
For information on how you can help with NYC’s homeless and mentally ill, click here.
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