Friday, February 06, 2009

4 Habits Of Highly Successful Princes

At Dan's prodding, I dug out my old copy of How Mumbo-jumbo Conquered the World and was skimming through the chapter on the snake oil of marketing and self-empowerment gurus like Deep Chowder and Tiny Ribbons, thinking over a few things…

Wouldn’t it be interesting if Machiavelli had been writing in this 'present age', when such self-important tomes with their fortune-cookie insights and their self evident self-serving are clogging the New-Age-Business-Mantra shelves.

What would his title have been? Suggestions welcomed.

Old Nic Machiavelli could motivate, man could he motivate! Move your own cheese by force of arms and don’t forget to kill all the upstart rebellious cheese-makers. Colour your parachute with the blood of your rivals. Don’t lose your head but lop of the heads of your enemies. Chicken Soup requires dead chickens. Etc...

At least he didn’t bullshit and say your lack of success is due to your own character weaknesses and your inability to harness from within the giant prick that you really are. He didn’t blame you for failure, not as such. He said that as everyone else is a selfish cunt out to trap you and preferentially have you executed at dawn, the way to succeed is to be an even bigger cunt. And be it first. If you get the chance.

Lie, murder, cheat and steal your way to civil governance.

It has NYT best-seller written all over it. I think Bernie Madoff has a copy.


There was this guy I met a few times in HK when I first arrived there. He had some high-flying banker-wanker job, or art least said he did - no-one ever checked up on what someone would claim in those heady days. I didn’t really get on with him, but I put up with him at social functions were he bloated up the split bill with extra glasses of wine or, notably, port for himself. My flat-mate, who got more upset about this than I did, and who was a nick-name generating machine, called him "OMP -One More Port." I had had some fun with OMP and a few other of his mates down in Wanchai after one of these parties, so we had this sort of Brotherhood Of The Undone Flies thing. No more info coming - in those days, in HK, what happens in Club Bunny, stays in Club Bunny.

I saw OMP many years later at a party of mine - somehow he had managed to gate-crash one of my roof-top binges. He was unemployed and looking rather desperately for a job. Maybe the SARS induced slowdown had caught him out. He was talking shit as usual. Who he knew (no-one I did), what was hot, what was not, bringing it all down to make himself seem bigger. Those companies that wouldn't hire him, hell, he didn’t want to work for them anyway.

For some reason, at an adjacent conversation, I was talking about Tony Robbins, (maybe I had just seen 'Shallow Hal', or maybe Robbins had just been in town), saying how all he did was empower people to be greedy bastards; in my view, Robbins' story was that you could be whomever you were prepared to pretend to be.

OMP got a bit upset when he heard me, and said that he had gone to the Tony Robbins show. (Someone told me later that he had got up on stage with Robbins and got those massive mitts clamped on his head… talk about Shallow Hal!) He said how valuable Robbins' message was -to HIM. Brilliant. How it had changed his life. Totally changed his life.

"How?" I asked, ribbing him.

"No, really it has totally changed my life, it was money well-spent. The guy is brilliant," he repeated.

"In what way is your life better?" I paraphrased myself. "No, really, how?"

After a second he said. "For the better. I'm such a better person, really."

"But you've been unemployed for months and you're still being a smart-arse, dude," I reminded him and slapped him on the back, in what I thought was a pleasant, joking way.

Oops. His face fell. Had I deflated the Robbins balloon? Shallow Hal Gets A Gal. He didn’t reply.

"Hey lets go down to Wanchai afterwards, " I said as I knew he liked to party on.

"Yeah, OK," he said with what I recall now was a rather despondent look.

I moved on to some other part of the roof-top. OMP left quietly soon after, so I didn't go out with him. I never saw him again.

I moved to Singapore six months later.


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