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Do You Need to Be a Jerk to Become Successful?

Do You Need to Be a Jerk to Become Successful?

Steve Jobs is probably the easiest-to-recall example of a successful person with a well-known history of being a jerk. He’s not the only one, though. Jeff Bezos, the architect of Amazon and currently one of the richest men in the world, has also been labeled as a jerk by others. Beyond the tech industry, there are also examples. Tucker Max, a well-known author, literally leads the “About” section of his website with this:[1]

“My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole. I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead. But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way. I share my adventures with the world.”

    At this point, we need to stop and ask: do you need to be a jerk to be successful?

    Kindness as weakness?

    Jobs, Max, Bezos, and guys like Jordan Belfort (the main character in The Wolf of Wall Street) are some core examples of the prevailing idea that if you want to be rich and successful, you need to be a jerk.

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      That idea is underpinned by another idea: kindness as weakness. When you meet someone who is kind and goes out of their way for others, that’s typically a great feeling. Those people are rare. But over time, you’ll notice that person get taken advantage of. They get hurt time and again by others. You get mad. Your friend shouldn’t be treated like that.

      Over time, you start to wonder: why won’t they stand up for themselves? Are they too passive? Are they worried about the opinions of others?

      Kindness should be a cornerstone element of the human condition because it connects us together in positive ways. But too often it’s seen as a weakness, or a personality aspect to exploit.

      Especially in a business context—often very competitive, where losing an advantage could mean bankruptcy— people move in the completely opposite direction. Instead of being kind, they are jerks. This is a pathway to power and control.

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      What’s behind the jerks

      This is what is commonly missed in these “You must be a jerk to be successful” discussions: success comes from many inputs.

        If someone is a complete jerk 100 percent of the time, they likely won’t be successful long-term. Rather, they will become selfish, self-centered and have lots of blind spots. They’ll keep taking other’s advantages and never making any sacrifice, which makes people hate them. When no one is willing to trust and support them, they have to work all alone even at tough times, hindering the chance

        How do you explain someone like Steve Jobs, then? He was a jerk and he was very successful.

        In that case, you have to look at what Jobs was trying to accomplish. He legitimately wanted to change the world. His focus was on making that happen, and he largely did — his products completely changed six industries including animated movies, digital publishing, music, personal computers, phones and tablet computing.[2] Because his focus was on product design at a world-shifting level, he let other priorities (i.e. relationships) slide, and was often a jerk to people because they were in the way of his vision. His success came from his passion and skill sets. It didn’t come from him being a jerk.

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        Tucker Max had a passion for telling interesting stories in new ways. That’s where his success came from. It’s similar to Jobs in some ways: passion was the driver, and passion also caused him to be perceived as a jerk along the way.

        How much do you want success?

        It’s never about deciding to be a successful jerk or an unsuccessful nice guy. It’s all about the kind of success you want to lead. When you know the type of success you want, you’ll put your passion into that.

        This will require a laser focus of how you spend your time, your thoughts, and even your emotions. Other things that don’t contribute that much to your ultimate goal will get sacrificed.

        It doesn’t mean you have to become a jerk, though. It only means you might not be as good with people as you are with your “big idea.”

        No one is perfect, and sometimes we sacrifice the relationships for the end goal. It doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk, but it’s one potential consequence.

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        The best path is to be wise and know the type of success you are looking for, then take stock of where you are making sacrifices. If not being seen as a jerk is important to you, you’ll have to adjust a little bit how you deal with others.

        Focus both on the end goal and on what it’s taking to get there.

        Featured photo credit: Vecteezy via vecteezy.com

        Reference

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        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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        Last Updated on May 22, 2019

        50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry

        50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry

        LinkedIn is an excellent platform to network with great people to help you in your career and businesses. However, with over 575 million people on the site, who should you follow? This list will steer you to the right people to follow, organized by categories of expertise.

        Job Search Experts

        You will likely have several jobs throughout the course of your career, and you will constantly need advice on new trends and strategies out there in the job market. Here are the LinkedIn experts who you should follow on these matters.

        1. Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace. Her articles on job searching are filled with creative and colorful cartoons.

        2. Lou Adler is the author of The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired.

        3. Dr. Marla Gottschalk will help you make an impact in a new job.

        4. Hannah Morgan runs CareerSherpa.net, where she gives expert advice on job searching and how to be more visible online.

        5. Alison Doyle is the CEO and Founder of CareerToolBelt.com.

        Management Experts

        They say that people leave managers, not jobs. These experts in LinkedIn will help you become your employees’ dream manager.

        6. Jeff Weiner. How can we leave out the CEO of LinkedIn himself?

        7. Nozomi Morgan is an executive coach. She can help you transition from a boss to a true leader.

        8. Mickey Mikitani is the CEO of Rakuten. He constantly shares his expertise in managing a global player in e-commerce platforms.

        9. Andreas von der Heydt was the head of Amazon’s Kindle Content and now the Director of Talent Acquisition. He has extensive experience in management, branding, and marketing.

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        Productivity Experts

        By maximizing your productivity, you can win in all aspects of life. The following LinkedIn experts will help you win big in your career.

        10. Gretchen Rubin is a happiness coach and the bestselling author of the The Happiness Project.

        11. Carson Tate is the founder of Working Simply. She advises us to include play in our schedules.

        12. Greg Mckeown is an essentialist. Part of being an essentialist is saying no to many things so that we can focus on the things that matter.

        13. Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha! Labs Inc. provides strategies on how to be productive and happy at work at the same time.

        Marketing Experts

        14. Sujan Patel is VP of Marketing at When I Work, an employee scheduling software. He is an expert in content marketing and he even shares his ideas on content marketing in 2020.

        15. Megan Berry is the Head of Product Development at Rebelmouse, a content marketing and AlwaysOn powerhouse.

        16. Sean Gardner will help you navigate the social media landscape. This includes how to use different platforms to help accelerate your career. He is also the bestselling author of The Road to Social Media Success.

        17. Christel Quek is an digital and marketing expert. She is the VP of South East Asia at Brandwatch. Their products help businesses utilize social media data to make better business decisions.

        18. Jeff Bullas is a digital marketing expert. His blog has over 4 million readers annually.

        19. Michael Stelzer is the CEO and Founder of social media powerhouse site, Social Media Examiner.

        20. If you’re looking for inbound and content marketing expertise, follow Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of Hubspot.

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        21. David Edelman is a McKinsey partner and is at the helm of the Digital Marketing Strategy Practice Department.

        22. Dave Kerpen leads the social media software company Likeable Local. He is the author of Likeable Social Media: How to delight your customers.

        23. Clara Shih is the CEO of Hearsay Social and the author of The Facebook Era.

        24. Aaron Lee is Grand Master of Customer Delight at Post Planner. He is an excellent resource for everything social media.

        25. David Sable is the CEO of Y&R, one of the largest advertising firms in the world.

        26. Content marketing trumps traditional marketing these days, and who else better to lead you in this area than Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute.

        Personal Branding Experts

        Part of what we market in our personal career is our brand. When people hear your name, what kind of brand comes into their mind? What traits and qualities do they associate with you?

        Here are some personal branding experts from LinkedIn to improve your own brand.

        27. Dorie Clark is the author of Stand Out and Reinventing You. He can help you craft the professional image you’ve always wanted.

        28. Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding. If you’re a millennial, Dan is the guy to help you craft your personal brand.

        Other Notable Experts to Follow

        29. Lisa Gates is the expert to follow if you’re negotiating for higher salaries and promotions.

        30. If you’re a Baby Boomer, Marc Miller will help you navigate the continually changing landscape of the workplace.

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        31. To avoid getting your resumé moved to the “No” pile, read Paul Freiberger’s excellent advice.

        32. James Caan provides insightful ideas on careers in general. He is also a serial entrepreneur.

        33. Jeff Haden writes on various topics, such as leadership and management. He is the owner of Blackbird Media.

        34. If you’re looking for expert business advice on getting new customers and keeping them, follow Jay Baer.

        35. Suzanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, is a great human resources specialist.

        36. If you need help in using Twitter to boost your career, Claire Diaz-Ortiz can guide you in the right direction.

        37. Ryan Holmes is the CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool.

        38. Customers are the lifeblood of a business and Colin Shaw focuses on revolutionizing this customer experience.

        39. Brian Solis often reflects on the future of business and how technology can disrupt our world.

        40. Nancy Lublin provides advice on more lighthearted topics, which are perfect after a long day’s work. She is the CEO behind Dosomething.org, a portal designed for social change; and the founder & CEO of Loris.ai and Crisis Text Line.

        41. Katya Andresen provides advice on how to manage your career. She was the CEO of Cricket Media and now responsible for the SVP Card Customer Experience at Capital One.

        42. Gallup has created a system to test what your strengths are and how to use them at work. Jim Clifton is the CEO of Gallup.

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        43. Adam Grant is a Wharton Professor and the author of Give and Take, which provides advice on why being helpful at work can accelerate your career.

        44. Hunter Walk is a partner at Homebrew Venture Capitalist Company and has specialty in product development and management.

        45. If you’re running a nonprofit organization, follow Beth Kanter for expert advice on this area.

        46. Emotional Intelligence is necessary to succeed in your career, and Daniel Goleman is your expert for that.

        47. Rita J. King connects science, technology and business.

        48. Tori Worthington Rose is a Creative Director at Mary Beth West Communications, LLC. She has extensive experience in sales and digital media.

        49. If you’re looking for some advice on how to use writing and personal content marketing to boost your career, follow Ann Handley.

        50. Tim Brown is the CEO at IDEO and shares his insights on Leadership and Creativity.

        These are just some of the key thought leaders and movers in various industries. They will provide you with constant inspiration, as well as the willpower to pursue the career that you’ve always wanted. Their stream of expert ideas in their respective fields will help you become well-equipped in your professional pursuits.

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        Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

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