Here is something personal I rarely advertise: I am a fanatic when it comes to slasher movies. Friday the 13th…Halloween…Texas Chainsaw Massacre…I dig them all. I’ll even watch those low budget productions with their B actors and gobs of fake blood.
The big screen is where I try to leave the psychos though. That’s because I subscribe to the guiding principle that my professional experience is more rewarding and pleasant when I engage with well-adjusted, grounded and passionate business executives. Life moves too quickly and the requirements of a running a PR consultancy are too complex to get distracted by the dramatic tendencies of loonies.
Make no mistake, we are surrounded by the unstable. I was reminded of this fact yesterday after reading two entertaining blog posts. Buck Banks of NewmanPR details a run-in with an attention-crazed employee candidate who thought nothing of denigrating the very company where she sought employment. And Beth Harte weighs in with her condemnation of social media leeches based on her recent experience at several industry conferences.
So, in the spirit of Jason Vorhees, Michael Myers and Freddie Krueger, here is my list of the five most common business psychos: (Photo courtesy of Slasherfilm.com)
1. The Super Needy Psycho: this person needs…or should I say demands…constant positive reinforcement and hand holding or their work quickly veers off path. I’m not your therapist, spouse or best friend. It’s up to each of us to find our source of professional motivation.
2. The Angry at the World Psycho: Business can be unfair. We don’t win every deal. Clients, partners and co-workers can betray us. A competitor can misrepresent their capabilities. As my colleague Jeff Majka has been known to say, “It is what it is.”
3. The Don’t Hold Me Accountable Psycho: Regardless of what happens, any misstep or failure is never their fault. They weren’t set up for success. They didn’t have the resources. The market changed. Blah…blah…blah.
4. The I’m Going to Take, Take, Take Psycho: I tend to hear from these people when they need something, such as help with a job search or free advice on a product launch. Yet, when they are in a position to retain Strategic Communications Group’s (Strategic) services it becomes surprisingly difficult to reach them.
5. The Watch Your Back Psycho: Last year a principal at a somewhat competitive PR shop who felt slighted by someone at Strategic sent me a long-winded, rambling Email about how it was now their mission to steal away all of our clients. Here’s a missive from that message:
But I will extend you one last favor. Here’s advance notice: We are about to launch an entirely new brand – for project oriented and budget-sensitive clients, including “mid-market tech companies.” We will pitch totally integrated service beyond anything you could dream about. We’ll pitch a fee structure that will be highly profitable for us and virtually impossible for a competitor to fight. Look for a release and a marketing campaign to launch maybe before year end or near the end of the year. You may not even know it is NAME OF AGENCY DELETED. But you’ll figure it out when this brand starts picking off your clients.
My advice to the comfortably sane is to steer clear of these psycho types in business dealings. Don’t work with them. Don’t have them as clients. Don’t partner up. Fail to do so and you may find yourself the unfortunate star of your own slasher flick.