You don’t deserve to work for an asshole

The book by Robert Sutton called The No Asshole Rule was brought to my attention by the blog Managed by Walking Around. I’ve read and enjoyed some of Sutton’s other books including those co-authored by Jeffrey Pfeffer and hope to get to this one shortly.

With this in mind, I felt like writing about some of the assholes I’ve had the good fortune of working for in my career. While these assholes made my life miserable thanks to their bullying, harassment and halitosis they also taught me how to be a better manager; I want to lead by being the complete opposite of those guys.

Here are a couple of my Assholes which I’ve rated according to the ARSE scale published by blogger and guru Guy Kawasaki:

Asshole #1: “Gordon Gekko” (not his real name)
Kawasaki scale: Full Blow Certified Asshole
“Gordon” was an old school institutional trader whose annual bonus was significant enough to provide him with a sense of entitlement. I bet he walked around thinking: “I make a lot of money for this firm so I can yell at you, and bully or abuse anyone I want. And I will hire hot executive assistants. If you don’t like me F you and quit. Boo-yaaah.”

When I wasn’t wishing testicular cancer on him, I would ponder why no one in HR was doing anything about this guy. And I was looking for another job.

Eventually I left that organization (recall: people don’t quit companies, they quit managers) and jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Asshole #2: “David Howard” (not his real name)
Kawasaki scale: Does not apply as he exceeded it.
Riskczar scale: Evil Sonofabitch.

Although a nice lady interviewed me and hired me, she was fired shortly after I joined and so I began reporting to “David”. This asshole lacked empathy, people skills or a slim waistline. He cut his teeth on trading desks like “Gordon”. Even though I had developed a thick skin thanks to “Gordon” this asshole still penetrated my defences. “David” managed to make my life and the lives of those who worked for him miserable too. At one point he explained to me and my team how we should move to another part of the bank or quit. (And not through inference – he flat-out said it.) He couldn’t wait to get rid of us to hire his own lemings. Shortly after I left, they realized the Asshole had no clothes and he was sacked.

Much time has passed and I have moved on but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take pleasure to see him laying in a gutter someplace “left in his anguish wallowing in freakish misery forever”.

Life’s too short having to work for assholes. If you hate getting out of bed in the morning because you report to a “Gordon” or “David”, you must quit. Leave. It will harm your home life and the way you act with everyone around you. You deserve more. Just smile, placate your Asshole and get the hell out of there.


By the way, I only scored a “4” on the 24-question true or false Asshole Rating Self-Exam by Guy Kawasaki, which is very low. Try the test yourself.

If you’ve worked for a Full Blow Certified Asshole please share by leaving your comments below.

Kawasaki’s ARSE Scale

0 to 5 “True”: You don’t sound like a certified asshole, unless you are fooling yourself.

5 to 15 “True”: You sound like a borderline certified asshole, perhaps the time has come to start changing your behavior before it gets worse.

15 or more: You sound like a full-blown certified asshole to me, get help immediately. But, please, don’t come to me for help, as I would rather not meet you.

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