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14 May 2008

Deal's Organizational Principle

"A fall guy is built into every venture. If the venture is successful, he will never know it; if it is not, he will be trotted out for the show trial."
Deal's Organizational Principle

When I was in college I worked for a chain of health clubs. It was a great job; small enough to be familial but large enough to give me a taste of actual business, not the theoretical business I was learning in college.

One of my early mentors was a fellow named Tom. Tom was a helluva guy. The rumor was that Tom played "the body" wearing the Spiderman suit in the original Spiderman TV series. Tom was very ambitious, a very effective leader and was very eager to please. However, Tom was not very business savvy (as I would learn much later), not very confrontational and was not a very good racquetball player.

"Success in sales is proportional to the number of 2 foot putts you miss when playing golf with your prospective customer" - World's Greatest Salesperson

Although I was born at night (not really, but I need the joke to work), thankfully, it wasn't last night. I figured if I let ol' Tom beat me in racquetball occasionally, I could get him to share some of his business acumen.

So began my mentorship. As Tom rose through the ranks of our company's leadership, so did I. I was his minion and I learned a lot. Later, when Tom was the head duck of operations of our outfit, some swashbucklers from Canada came to town and bought our health club chain from our aged owner. Then they made ol' Tom an offer he couldn't refuse: Tom would be the head duck over an even wider area of newly acquired clubs and would be given a fancy title along with the head swelling authority to sign everyone's payroll checks. Tom was large and in charge! Every payday everyone would know who the boss was.

Tom was happy. And we were happy with Tom and for Tom. The canucks were never around except to 'monitor' the books once a month so it was a great scenario.

Until the money started disappearing. And paychecks started bouncing. Seems that the scrote bags from the north were pillaging our little company for all it was worth. When they had enough, they disappeared, leaving ol' Tom holding the bag, the empty bag that is. Before Tom was sued out of existence, he imparted a final salvo of advice, including: don't agree to sign any payroll checks unless you are also certain that the payroll taxes are being paid. Yikes. Withholding - but not reporting/paying - payroll taxes is severely punished it turns out.

I saw Tom a few years after that. Still smiling, but pockets bare. He was on his way to the courthouse for more lingering issues and then on his way back to his job cleaning tanning beds at a tanning salon.

Not sure why it is called Deal's Organizational Principle, because if you are on the receiving end, it is not a good deal at all.


Talisman said...

Ouch. I guess it says something about his character though that he'd still be smiling after all of that. Either that or it says something about the power of Prozac.

Michael M. said...

Talisman - not sure they had Prozac back then, but since he started increasing the amount of Aqua Velva he wore, perhaps he was 'hitting the juice' to feel better. :)

Reasonable Robinson said...

Now I get it!! That's what happened to me when our management buyout went sour - its only taken 15 years to learn this - fantastic it all makes sense - Doh!

Michael M. said...

R2: There's also a few Gullible people in every crowd isn't there? :)