Are you an annoying employee? Does your boss wince when she opens your emails? Does your mere presence make your manager think about nails scratching on a chalkboard? In this episode, Frank and Ian grumble about people who annoy them to no end. Brace yourself for a lot of “Get off my lawn!”
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Ten Things That Irritate Your Manager
Frankie and I are agreeable guys. Certainly, on this show, we like to present ourselves as professional, polite and helpful but behind the scenes, we’re a couple of middle-aged, grumpy, irritated dudes who are annoyed by everything people do around us. This episode touches on ten behaviors that are the equivalent of someone scratching their fingernails across a chalkboard to us. If you’ve ever been annoyed by the people we’re about to talk about, you’re going to love this episode. There are some assholes that are miserable in the workplace that need to be called out and this is our episode of doing it. If you haven’t shared our show with a friend, haven’t given us a five-star review and not subscribed to one of the many places where we post this stuff, you irritate us. That’s three bonus ones for everyone. Without further ado, let’s dive into ten things that irritate your manager.
Ian, we’re a little out of rhythm.
We are recording on a Friday. How did this happen? What do we have going on? Why couldn’t we do it on Wednesday?
We’re raising $4 million.
I had to put together a little investor deck on Wednesday. Our normal show time to take a backseat to something that generates income.
It keeps everyone happy.
Our pet project got bumped, so we can make some case show.
We could overpay the IRS.
In the meantime, multiple people annoyed us.
I’m excited about this episode because this is the true essence of Ian and me. We don’t talk on the phone as much as we used to as we do the show that fills up three hours of our week. In the old days, when we would get on the phone, leave funny voicemails or different things. Ian and I were on the phone working on a pretty important email deck. An email started circulating about t-shirt size in my company. We’re 40 employees. Someone replied CCing everyone in the company about, “Please leave me off of the CC list,” and sent it to everybody. Ian and I were talking in real-time on this and we both were giggling. We weren’t mad, but this would start us down the line of like, “What pisses us off or what gets us into like?”
Who are the people that do these things that reply to all the 30 people saying, “I’m more important than the other 29. Take me off this email list?”
I replied with something along the lines of, “Please take me off of yours. Reply all, asking to be removed.” Ian and I are on this. I BCC him, which is Ian’s big move. He loves to reply to BCCs. I was like, “Ian, you have to sign it Frank Business Coach.” He wrote this as funny as it says, “Please also remove me from the BCC line, Frank. Many thanks, signed Frank’s business coach.”
This is not something that annoys me but Frank loves the BCC me on dumb asses that he’s replying to. Part of it is because Frank likes to spend a lot of time come up with a witty retort to an asshole that’s irritating him. I love getting them. Frankly, I get almost no-nonsense in emails because I don’t respond to them anymore. I hardly get any emails anymore. If you want to get ahold of me, call me. I’m not big on email. I don’t get copied out much. I like seeing the organizational stupidity still and Frank is the source that still gives it to me.
The best part about these emails is my email and I heard an eruption of laughter. About 75 seconds later they saw Ian’s. We broke our meeting up but I brought everybody in here. We had a good laugh but this got us centered. This is going to be one of our best show because we are both unified around the topic.
For our dozens of loyal readers, Frank and I try to come across above reproach and mature but the truth is, most of the time, we’re a couple of crotchety old guys with money that complain about everyone else. This is going to be an episode that speaks to the true character of the two co-hosts of this show because most people in business irritate the hell out of us and annoy us.
Most people in life. If we’re being honest, almost everyone, except for us. I annoy Ian. Ian annoys me. The only person who never annoys me is me.
My kids and wife annoy me. I am annoyed by Frank most of the time I talk to him. I’m about the only person I pick who is pretty cool to hang out with most of the time.
What we’re going to do with this episode is get some cheap Chardonnay, get our wives together and read this so they could make fun of us.
The Guy Who Asks To Be Removed From The CC
Without further ado, these are ten people who annoy us most of the work. We could probably do this as a ten-part series. We could go to 100 and not everyone on this team. Frank’s example is hilarious. Who is the guy that when you say, “Remove me from the email distribution,” what you are saying is, “I have too many emails. This is not important to me. I’m more important than the other people on the distribution list and I need a few less emails my way?”
Is the assumption that the other 30 people on the email list want to get that email about t-shirt sizes? I never understand the mentality of the person who is brash enough to give everyone else one more email while saying, “I want to get less email.” You’re creating a problem for everyone else while trying to be selfish enough to take yourself off of a problem. Can you just delete the emails and move on? Is it destroying your productivity that week?
Just be miserable like the rest of us. Hit the delete button. Don’t share with us your short-sighted son of a bitch. Hit the X and move on.
Can’t you just get miserable like the rest of us bastards on this stupid distribution list that don’t want it? Can’t you be that guy like us? Just delete it all.
If you want to talk about assholes, I’m the biggest asshole here. I’ve got seven people that look at my email. Most of these things don’t even make it to me but on the off chance that I see it. “Damn you.”
The other thing I don’t understand is why do you reply all to say, “Take me off the distribution list?” The person who sent it in the first place is normally the person you need to tell to go there. Why do you have to bother everyone else to let them know you’re more important than them? I never understand that.If you have to talk about your morning all the time, it’s because you’re not producing anything else during the day. Click To Tweet
We’re going to get into passive-aggressive in a minute but what I do when I see those emails, especially if it’s someone on my leadership team who sends them out, I’ll reply to them and say, “Awesome email. I’m enjoying the back and forth.” However, if you were to put everybody in the BCC line going forward, it would save some hassle. Handle it right upfront. We’re doing leadership essentials and we’re going to talk about his feedback, that’s feedback. That’s a way to combat the problem, deal with the problem, get it over with and hopefully move on. You don’t have to deal with this dipshit. The whole process was like, “Leave me off.”
Speaking of BCC, I’ve been out of the corporate world. I’m not in the lingo of getting BCC done anymore. Every once in a while, Frank will BCC me as an FYI which is big on his team just let people be on the inside but I screw Frank every time he does it by replying all that everyone with some dumb ass thing that I’ve said and Frank being like, “BCC.” My etiquette is completely gone from years of corporations.
One of my good friends, when I lived in Charlottesville, owned a meat farm. He owned all these cows. Ian and I went in on a portion of a cow and the BCC is similar to this. You get a cooler with all these cuts of meat, they’re all vacuum sealed and it lays it all out. I went into my kitchen counter and laid all the steaks out. I broke them into categories. There were hundreds of cuts. This took forever and I’m an hour into this. I look up and I’m like, “Why am I doing this? There’s absolutely no sense in doing this.” Whatever I give my energy, they’re going to bitch. I’m like, “This is the most thankless exercise on Earth.”
The reason why Frank knew we are going to bitch is he sold us hard on us.
I thought it was going to be great.
His house and grass there. This is different than your normal stuff. This guy only has a certain number of heads and feeds him well. These are good cuts on meat. He sold us on buying a quarter of a cow with him like, “Do you want to go out on a quarter?” It’s like a drug deal he did with Jenny and me. We were three sheets to the wind at a winery when he convinced us to do this. We’re like, “We’re in. Let’s buy some meat.”
You knew we were going to complain because when you looked at the cuts, they all sucked. You had 100 crappy cuts of meat that looked worse than anything you could get a giant in the bargain bin section. Frank was trying to meticulously give us the bone-in ribeye and maybe a bone-in filet but they were all tiny cuts of meat. You might get it at Applebee’s for a steak and he was trying to find something they could serve at the cab grill and there wasn’t anything.
Replying to the BCC line, it’s going on a quarter cut a steak with the Mathews. For months, his wife would call or text me out of the blue, “Frankie, I love using this prime filet for fajitas.”
“It’s fajita here again. We cut up another one of your steaks.” The only way you can get it down was by marinating it in lots of salt and sauces.
I have no idea if anyone is doing it like us but the back of my head is already hurting from laughing.
The “Winning The Morning” Guy
Number two on our list. Frank has an amazing story but I’m going to say that subtopic on this. I can’t stand winning the morning guy. Frank can’t stand this guy either. Frank, explain who winning the morning guy is.
Winning the morning guy is a couple of different things. There’s a guy who came out with a book. I tried to read it. Many people that I know in my life are like, “Have you read this book?” I’m like, “I’ll buy the book.” I sat down and read eleven pages. I’m like, “This is awful. This is written on a third-grade level. This dude has such a huge ego. This is terrible.” The name of the book is The Miracle Morning. Hal Elrod wrote the book. Honestly, I donated it and gave it to charity.
The same as that bastard that sold us that shitty meat.
Ian and I both have morning routines. We’re both up texting or emailing each other quite early. I have two kids. It’s the only time there’s any peace in my life. We get up early, but we don’t have like memorialized events or put pictures of ourselves on Facebook at 5:00 AM with our routine. That’s a part that annoys us the shit out of us. There’s a guy in my market that I wanted to go to lunch with for a while and we’re having a hard time catching up. I text him one day and it’s early. It’s before 6:00. He replies hysterically and goes, “I’m up early but this isn’t an anomaly. I don’t want you to think I’m one of those winning morning guys.”
This is another email that I got BCC on Frank’s response. Frank loves the guy from the minute he said it because you don’t want to be known as this guy. The guy that talks about his morning every day in the office. The guy that comes in and says, “I was up at 4:30 AM and journaling. I did some meditating. I made sure to get a 6-mile run in.” They tell you all these things that they did in their morning. This is also the person who loves to tell you how it’s changing their life. Their miracle morning is changing their life but they’re also broke. You’re 40 and posting about your miracle morning on Facebook and you still drive a 1999 Hyundai. Stop talking about your miracle morning. It doesn’t matter what your morning was. Did you produce anything? Did you sell anything? Did you make any money or have an amazing morning with seven points that you went through?
Newsflash asshole, anyone who’s successful as a good morning. We figure out how to not start our day with dog shit. Even if your day starts with videos from Facebook of Seinfeld or sports center but it makes you in a good mood to go tack the rest of your day, that’s a win. That’s a good day. You get in a workout, a hot shower and maybe a good dump. We’ve got ourselves all the hallmarks of a great day.
Get yourself a cold brew, drink some water and make sure the plumbing still works, “Let’s go. Don’t tell me about when you got up. I don’t give a shit what time you woke up.”
Too hysterical stories about this both from high school. He had this kid and I’ll leave his name out. He walked up to Nickel and me and he talked to us about how he did 1,000 sit-ups and pushups every day before school. Nickel deadpans, looks around and says, “You may want to rethink your diet.”
Reach out to Herschel Walker and maybe a few hostesses to lunch.
The other one was Nickel and I was in the car with his mother. His mother is the nicest, sweetest lady and never says any crossword about anybody. I’ll leave the lady’s name out of it but the lady that we knew was getting up every morning and going to this shitty gym that we used to have in Coral Springs, called Roni’s Gym. She’s like, “So and so is getting up every morning and working out at Roni’s Gym. Honestly, I’ve never seen her fatter.” I look in the backseat bursting with laughter like, “What do we do with this?”
That person is also posting every day about how they’re working out at Roni’s Gym every morning. To me, if you have to post on social media and brag in an office about your morning, you don’t have anything else going on. Successful people get up early, work out in the morning and do things. It’s because they have kids and have a lot going on at work. They have no other time in the day to do it. That’s when they try to fit it in. That’s not the peak of their day is their morning. The peak is when they’re producing shit later on in the day.
If you have to talk about your morning all the time and all the journaling you did, meditation and the workout, you have to talk about that because you’re not producing anything else during the day, don’t be this obnoxious ass that talks about your morning because no one cares about it. You could have the worst morning in the world. You know what Jeff Bezos does in the morning. He gets up around 8:00 and he putters for one hour. That’s his word, “I like to putter around the house. I pick up the paper, look around and talk to the kids.” He starts his day at 9:30 or 10:00. He doesn’t win the morning. He thinks about shit that gets to work and produces things the rest of the day.
One of the takeaways in my life that I’ve got a rule at this point is if you’re in the next company, you don’t know all the players involved. The person who usually spends the most time talking is usually the least successful. I find this winning the morning as being one of those things like, “You’ve accomplished this one thing in your day.” This is not too dissimilar from the please remove me from the BCC list like, “I’m important.” If you’re important, this will be one fundamental building block for the rest of a good day. It’s not the highlight.
To get Jenny’s dad to tell you about his business and to learn, you’ve got to ask 50 questions. It will take you ten conversations. He will keep changing the subject back to you because he doesn’t want to ever sound like he’s bragging. Everyone who meets Chief for the first time thinks he has two people that work for him and he has a truck. That’s all you can get out of them. You don’t know he has this massive operation that’s highly profitable that’s been going for years. You have no idea because he never wants you to think he’s bragging or trying to act better than you. Chief never wins the morning. He gets up and runs 1 mile on a treadmill, does ten curls, goes in after his plumbing work and that’s it.People who are successful value their time. Click To Tweet
We’re going to transition from the winning to morning guy into the guy. We’re saying guy, but there are women do this too. Ian and I were going through the list of people who annoy us. It’s mostly men.
It’s 80/20 men annoy us more than women at work by far. Ladies, you annoy us too, just in those degrees. Most people when we started naming names before this episode were dudes. We are going for the sake of this show and organization. We don’t want you to cancel the show. We may cancel it one day but don’t cancel us. We’re going to use the term guy instead of girl for all of these. Don’t take offense. Women, you annoy the hell out of us too.
The Guy Who Tells You How Many Emails He Gets
In addition, there’s a friend of mine from high school who always says, “I mean guy.” Having a guy in here is important to us. We’re the only ones reading, who cares? The guy who tells you how many emails he gets every day. Ian, why does this guy annoy you?
It’s important to get to the whys of why these people do these things. The guy who tells you how many emails he gets a day is always going to be 100 plus. No one ever says, “I get fifteen emails a day,” especially in a big company. Someone would be like, “I get 200 a day.” There are some assholes that will tell you they get 300 a day. The undertone of that is, “I’m important around here. This company couldn’t work without me. I get many emails because many people need me and they have to update me.” That’s what that person is trying to say. As if somehow value of an employee as measured by the number of emails they receive, send and reply to. When in fact, the people that get the most emails are normally some of the lowest-paid people that are not important. They’re more adman than anything.
Another thing that annoys me about this guy is the reason you get many emails is that you send many emails, and copies many people. The best way to get less emails a day is to send less in the first place and don’t put eight people on the CC line because if you got 200 emails, I bet 30 were from the same email you started and people replying back and forth. What you’re telling me as an executive is when you get 200 emails a day is you are a tremendous waste of time to everyone else in my organization, and you’re not producing ship because all you do is stare at your outlook all day.
What I’m struck by with the first three of these is these all come down to self-esteem. It’s like low self-esteem or someone who, if they’re being honest or, “I wonder what I do produce?” You’re bragging about stuff that nobody gives a shit about instead of focusing on the things that people do give a shit about. Nowadays, in my life, when someone brings up to me that, “I get 300 voicemails. I get all these emails.” I get seven. I sound like the world’s biggest jerk because I’ve got it sourced where other people do those things. I have a spam filter that handles a lot of things. It doesn’t matter. You’re just filling space and time with crap that nobody wants to hear.
GE and NBR, I got a lot of emails a day. It’s hard not to get a lot of emails. That’s how big corporations work. I’m making more money now than I was before on my own and I might get twenty emails in a week that need me to respond to it. There’s a lot that I have to look at. I know you get more. You have a lot more employees. Wealth and success are not measured by the number of people sending you emails and the number of emails you need to send people.
It’s measured by how much freedom you have to do what you want, how much money you have to go spend the time you want the way you want to and has nothing to do with how many emails you get. It’s the same guy that tells you how many unread emails they have, “I’ve got 800 emails in my inbox. I haven’t gotten too.” Someone says that to me, “It’s never like the organized person in the office. It’s always the unorganized disaster that isn’t producing much in their day.” In talking about it,0 you sound like an idiot and you’re proving that you’re not valuable to the organization.
The Passive-Aggressive Email Guy
Let’s get right into the passive-aggressive email guy and we’ll do a summary about bragging about or letting email be the tail that wags the dog. You kick off passive-aggressive email guy.
Here’s the deal, it’s annoying when you do it to me but I find it hilarious when you do it to other people and I’m somehow copied on it. We make the distinction that it’s funny when someone you know does it to someone else or like, “When Frank is passive-aggressive to someone and I get BCC, it’s hilarious.” Frank, share Nickel’s favorite one of your responses to that guy that one time of about, “We will never talk to you again.” What is that email that you sent?
The reason that Ian and I both like it when we share these emails is that we’re doing it intentionally. It’s annoying when people don’t do it intentionally. What we’re doing, how we’re wordsmithing this and how we’re replying is or saying in a way that if you’re reading it at a traffic light or if you’re not bright, you might not think that we were fucking with you but in reality, we are. My favorite saying is the MF someone through an entire email inside it with, “Very truly yours.”
That’s how he ends it, everyone. I like, “Many thanks,” after I’ve eviscerated you, “Respectfully yours.” Those are always fun to write that after you’ve crushed someone. A passive-aggressive email guy is, let’s say, I ask someone a question. I’m not following something and I say, “Where was this? I didn’t see it.” Per my last email, guy can go fuck yourself. I get a lot of emails. All I’m telling you is I didn’t read your last stupid email with four paragraphs and because it was too long and it was poorly worded. I didn’t catch the little half phrase in there that was telling me what I’m asking here.
They’ll resend it and reattached it for your convenience. Someone will say like, “I didn’t see when the settlement date was going to be.” Someone had already sent it and then they’ll Reply all and say, “I’m reattaching it for your convenience.” I’m not answering your question. I’ve already written at once and I’m not going to take the time to do it. Go read my initial email. They’ll say things like, “As I clearly stated below, per the email I already sent you, as you know or aware from the correspondence I sent on Monday.” Those things I don’t have any patience for if you do it to me but when I see someone do it to someone else, I find it hilarious. It is a polite way of saying, “You’re a goddamn moron in writing.”
What I love to do on that is put apologies for my delay. Read, I don’t think this is important and I haven’t prioritized it.
Frank’s office manager is Carla and I love her to death. I’m doing leadership training with Frank’s group. Every Friday, we get on a call and talk for an hour about one of the videos that I have them watch. It’s been great fun but every once in a while, they get behind or there are holidays, so we have to move something or Frank’s out of town. I missed one of them. I sent an email to the group saying, “I’m in a Zoom meeting. Is everyone getting on?” Someone responded like, “No call today.” I was a little irritated. I’m like, “Someone had to tell me because the outlook that Carla had sent me was still in my calendar.” Carla hits me with passive-aggressiveness. Carla goes in. I’m sure Frank is like, “You didn’t tell Ian?” They all give Carla a shit.
Carla sends an email to me and everyone saying, “As you see below, there was no meeting today.” I have to scroll down four emails into it and there’s this long email she had sent in somewhere and one of the bullets was, “We won’t be having a call on 5/22.” I’m like, “Carla, come on. Do you think I went and changed all my Outlook from that little bullet in an email?” She crushed me with the passive-aggressive. If I didn’t love Carla so much, she would have gotten an emoji of double birds going up to her from that but I was like, “I’m going to let it go. She’s maybe having a bad day. I’ll see you guys on Friday, Frankie.” I giggled about it.
I called you five hours later. You’re like, “I’m over it.”
The Guy Who Responds At Night And The Overachiever
I’m glad you didn’t call me two minutes after she sent that email. Let’s finish off on email people on this list because clearly email irritates Frank and me. We don’t like it. The guy who responds to emails late at night to create the illusion of hard work. This is the guy that will send over an email at 9:11 PM that could wait until 8:30 AM when he’s in the office. This is going back to self-esteem, insecurity and self-confidence but wants to Reply all and let everyone know I’m a 24/7 guy. I never stopped working. I send emails. I’m always on top of it. That was maybe impressive in 2002 when no one had a BlackBerry and you got an email at 9:00 that meant someone was sitting in an office and still grinding. Nowadays, anyone everyone’s got their iPhone up scrolling around on Instagram at 9:00 or 11:00 PM. Just because you flipped over and have a notification that an email came in and you respond at all, you’re not impressing anyone. You’re watching Netflix and Instagram. You can wait until tomorrow to reply to all.
Or you had a lot of beans at dinner and you’re sitting on the throne in the one place in your house that’s quiet and you’re just going through email.
It is when we get all of our long-winded text messages from PACS, because we get long text message threads.
It’s a real shame we went vegan. We all lost some of that.
This is the same guy who has to always be the first to reply all to an email. When someone sends an email out to seven people saying, “Does anyone know when this is? Does anyone have this?” It’s always the same guy who has to respond first. A lot of times, I might be the first person to read it. I’m always cognizant of not being the first to respond because I don’t want to send a message that I stare at my phone all day even though I do. I don’t want to send the message that I’m addicted to my iPhone and I’m always looking at it. I know people that always have to be the first to respond to everything. To me, it leaves more of a brand that you’re not producing much all day. You’re just staring at your phone doing other things.
Four out of our first five things that annoy us are email. The takeaway here with the emails is you’re being judged with email. People who are in positions of leadership and who have opinions look at what you do and how you correspond through email. It is an extension of who you are. Good basic character is sometimes lost because you can hide behind a keyboard, a computer screen and you get to say something or do something that you would not have the balls to say or do to someone’s face.
The problem is you’re judged based upon that body of work as well. You’re doing yourself a disservice by doing these things. Having some etiquette, self-esteem and couth saying, “It’s 9:00 PM, this isn’t an important email, let me delay and send it tomorrow at 8:30 AM.” Little things like that can swing the pendulum in your favor where you’re not looked at as being a ding dong on email. What I will say is we’ve all committed these crimes. There’s no doubt we’ve done it. As we get older and have more perspective, we usually utilize it in a position of levity to break the tension or make a point. Having email muscle and saying things from behind the desk, you need to realize it’s an extension of how you’re being judged.If you are going to learn and retain something, active note-taking is the most important thing you can do. Click To Tweet
Most people don’t give much thought to the fact that the way that they write and respond in the email goes a long way in building their brand. To most executives, that’s all they know of them. It’s what they’ve seen in emails because they don’t get a lot of FaceTime or see them too often. If I’m going to promote someone into a higher position in a company, one of the most important things I look for is judgment and email shows poor judgment. Do you respond emotionally? Do you respond too quickly? Do you do ask for knuckleheaded things that put pressure on other people? Are you selfish? You can see a lot of that by watching the way people interact through email.
There’s another one too. There’s the overachiever, which we didn’t talk about. I love the overachiever. I have an email that I got from an overachiever and I replied with many spaces, words, smiley face and I hit send. Five minutes later, I replied with, “There’s a ton of detail here, most of which I don’t completely understand and I don’t know. What I would love you to do going forward is to give me a sentence. The sentence says, ‘This is what I found. These are the motivators. This is where it is. What do we do next? If you like to read more, I put everything else below it.’”
I don’t have time to read four pages of information about something that I don’t know if it affects me or not. As the leader of a company, you don’t want me doing that. If you change the title where I understand what I’m reading, if you give me a little bit of direction or you say, “Here’s a little snippet of what’s coming below,” that’s incredible. I look at that like, “That is an awesome email. Thank you for informing me. Thank you for telling me. Thank you for being a guardian of my time. Now, let me make sure I prioritize this and get you what you need to help connect the dots.” The long ones that I don’t know what to do, sit in my inbox for days because it’s time-consuming.
Classic Mark Twain quote, “I’m sorry to send you a longer letter. If I had more time, I’d have written a short one.” That’s the truth if you want to get your point across. For me, writing is easy if I have all the words I need. I had a good executive early in my career GE who used to crush me on this all the time. He would say, “I’m sure there are some good thoughts on this. I didn’t read it. Send it back to me into something I can read in less than 60 seconds and you’ve got a chance.” He would write that to me and I’d get pissed because I’d be like, “I spent one-hour writing that.” He’d be like, “That’s the point. I don’t have one hour to read your email. You’re not that important. I got a lot going on. Give me something I can read in one minute. Use your brain. Make the point in less words.”
He used to tell me that over again until I got the point. In NVR, our CEO, Paul Seville, you got five words from him. It was like a book. He didn’t reply to emails. He didn’t send them. It was a few words come see me on this, “Let’s talk. It looks like we should fix this.” That’s all you ever got from Seville. He might send 3 or 4 emails a day and he’s running one of the most successful publicly traded companies. It was, “Let’s talk about this,” or he would read it and go drop it on someone’s desk that they should go fix something.
Do you know the one rule John F. Kennedy had with memos?
No staple. Not, “You can use a paperclip.” One page. That’s it. There’s a line from a movie that, “Explains it to me that a seven-year-old could understand it.” What we lose is we have this vastness in front of us with this computer and think diarrhea is going to be rewarded. It isn’t tight, concise, helpful, move the ball forward. That’s what’s helpful. We’ve lost these disciplines because fatigue is causing us to do more of it.
The Guy Who Acts Like He’s Never Been On A Plane
Let’s move away from the office for a minute. Let’s move to a different venue. I want to talk about the guy who acts like he’s never been on an airplane before. The reason why this is a business person who annoys us is they always seem to have a Brooks Brothers shirt on and look like they’re on a business trip and I’m talking about assholes who can’t follow basic protocol on an airplane. It lands. You wait. A beep comes in. A lady says, “You can now get your bags.”
This is the person who is first to jump up, grab his bag and start pushing as far as they can up. They would pass in front of ten rows if those rows weren’t quick enough to get their bag instead of doing what the basic social contract would say, which is to wait for the first rows to get their bag politely. This is the same guy who’s shoving ahead of pregnant moms, Mom and Dad with two kids and an elderly couple because his time is more important because he’s on a business trip that he can’t wait another six minutes for everyone to get off in front of him politely.
What I love about this guy is you see him running ahead like they have some massive meeting or they’re late for another flight and then you calmly get your bag. You’re polite to people, walk down the jetway and you get into the airport. He’s sitting there with Auntie Anne’s pretzels smashed. He’s rushing through everything so you can get a concession.
He sat in like a two-hour ops meeting that a real boss asked him to come to and he’s rushing ahead of everyone because he is an overachiever and a doer. He needs to move and has no patience. You see this guy and you’re like, “If you’re important, why are you sitting in the middle seat in coach?”
Why are you in row 37E, right in front of the toilet in the middle seat? You are not that important.
“Why are you trying to rush ahead of me in my first class seat?” You are not that important.
Do you know who nobody knows rushes off the plane? The guy in 2B, which is where I seat.
You’ll get there when he gets there. He’s on his time. Probably want to do a meeting where they’re waiting on him. That’s okay. If he doesn’t get off too fast. That’s all right.
We did a charitable event. We’re doing this community service thing and I cursed in the spot. It’s a faith-based organization. She looked at me and turned a little bit white. I said, “Don’t worry, we’ll beat out the curse word.” She felt a little better. I feel like it is our way of getting all the curses out but screw it.
This is also the same guy who has his earphones in. He’s looking at his phone while he’s getting on the plane. Just sits and watches a lady. 50-year-old trying to put her bag up by herself and doesn’t help at all. I noticed these guys all the time. They’re into themselves and feel self-important to be on the plane that they’re irritated that there’s even a family with kids on it. They don’t help the older lady put her bag up. I want to choke this guy. I get myself worked up to where I want to choke someone on an airplane. There’s one of these a-holes on every flight I’ve ever been on.
The profanity-laced comment is this, “If you’re fucking important why aren’t you flying private with a biggie asshole? Why are you on Spirit Airlines and seat 37E?”
The Human Echo
That would be weird if you were flying with a biggie because you would have an urn in your hand. I know a bunch of these over time. Number seven is the human echo. This is the person who feels like every agenda item that the boss put on the conference call, the Zoom call and the meeting needs his input. The human echo guy. No matter how clear-cut and dried the topic might be and how resolved it might have been with other people, he feels the need to add his $0.2. There’s always one of these guys that makes every meeting go another twenty minutes longer than they need to. I can’t stand this person. They drive me crazy. It’s transparent.
The reason why it’s transparent is they never add something new to the agenda item. Normally, I knew a guy at NVR that did this every quarterly meeting. No matter what I said, he would say, “I like what Ian just said.” This wasn’t my boss’s appearance. Restating it a different way and then he would say the same thing I said, he added no value to it. It was nothing original. It is nothing new. There was no need to say it. You could have said I agree but you wasted seven minutes repeating what I said with a few different words to make it appear as if we came up with the idea yourself. I can’t stand you.
This comes back to self-esteem. You have nothing good to say. You’re afraid that people are going to see that you have nothing important to add and what you’re going to do is take something that someone else said and you’re going to restate it. What I find hysterical are two things. Number one, the person who does that. It’s pretty pathetic. It’s one of those things where it’s like, “Give me a break.” Just agree, comment something original and say, “I have nothing to add. That was a great point. I’m behind it.” Everybody respects. We get the lunch faster.
If you do work in an organization or with a group of people where they restate are then that becomes the commentary that everyone dives into. It’s lazy management. I’ve seen it before and it’s pathetic. It was said, we talked about it, decided it, someone then repeats it and we do it again. That’s not an effective use of time, nor is it an effective way to schedule a meeting. If you are allowing that to happen in your meeting you need to look at, “What is your leadership? Do we need to allow that? Is this time to have the conversation again? Was something new brought up?” If it wasn’t, you’re losing the room. Nowadays, everyone’s got distractions and, on their phones, looking with their heads down. They’re doing other things or checking emails. You’re losing the room. That’s not how you want to do it.
One way I’ve always thought about this is if there was a meeting with a bunch of different animals in the jungle and they had a meeting, I feel like the person we’re talking about would be the Hyenas. The hyenas have no respect. They’re bottom feeders. They come to eat off of carcasses that other things have killed. They never shut up. They’re always running their mouth or irritated. I look at it like if there was a meeting with a bunch of animals, the elephants and the lions would stay quiet until they had something to say because the elephant and the lion have no natural predators in the room. There are no threats in the room to them. There’s no need for them to weigh in all the time unless someone asked their opinion. I always think of it that way, “What are the animals in the room that would be chirping and would never shut up? They would be irritating.” A lion and elephant would sit, chill and listen until they needed to say something.People who are just too lazy and don’t respect other people’s time are annoying. Click To Tweet
There were certain people on every team I’ve ever been on that hardly talked but when they did, everyone leaned in. It’s like Charlie Munger which he does on the 2/3 of the questions at the Berkshire Hathaway meeting. Charlie says, “I’ve got nothing to add because Warren’s a long talker.” If Warren said everything in Charlie’s mind, then Charlie says, “You’ve covered that well,” but if he didn’t cover it well or he disagrees, he talks. When Charlie talks in that meeting, everyone leans forward a little because Warren is always talking but Charlie doesn’t talk a lot. When he does talk, you lean in because you know he doesn’t talk for the sake of doing it.
My original thought on top of what you said is this, if you want to stake yourself to middle management or the bottom of the rung, mimic these things. These are what people who get passed overdo. Charlie Munger didn’t get past. Warren Buffett is brilliant but he’s up there on stage who’s one other person. He brought that guy up on stage because that guy knows his spot. He knows his place, when to speak, when not to add anything because it was good enough. He’s one of the richest people on the planet and that’s how we measure success in our society.
What I can tell you is if you’re reading to this and thinking, “How do I utilize these skills to my advantage?” People realize what’s happening. Most people are fairly self-aware. Your manager is probably self-aware or there’ll be replaced. If they weren’t self-aware, they wouldn’t have gotten that job. If they’re not continuing to evolve and be self-aware of what’s happening around them, they’re going to get passed over.
If you are adding good points, saying things that matter, not the human echo, not some bullshit emails out and if you’re called upon, you deliver a great point, people are going to say, “That person is young but they got their stuff together.” It starts to add up and it builds inertia in your favor in your career. However, if you’re one of these people who’s a human echo, I saw these people as a young manager, I pass them, I breezed right by. They had nothing original to say. They were always tacking on the things that were already beat to death. There’s no value in that.
The Guy Who Responds To Voicemails With A Text
Number eight, people who respond to a voicemail with a text or an email. I want to start with a caveat of, “I do this myself.” Frank, how often do you call and leave voicemails anymore?
It’s rare. There’s a handful of people I leave them for always but most people who will work with me I don’t even text them. If I call them and they don’t answer, they call me back as soon as they’re off the phone.
In general, you don’t call people when a text would do. You don’t call people when an email would do, “I’m calling you because I need to hash something out. I need more than a one-word answer. I need more than something simple. If I’m calling you, I don’t call people just to call them or annoy them.” You call someone and get the text of like, “What’s up?” If I wanted to text you saying, “What’s up?” I texted you in the first place. “Either pick the phone up or call me back, 1 of 2. Don’t do that to me if I’m calling you and I’m not someone that calls you every day to bother you,” which I don’t do to anyone.
Here’s what is relevant here. Certain people call me and I only reply to them via text because their time wasters. It’s a 1.5-hour conversation. I don’t have time for it. It’s winded. It’s like, “I’m in a meeting. What can I do to help you?” It can usually be accomplished with it, “Sorry to bother you. I just needed this. Thanks.” Other people, we have real dialogue and banter that we need to talk about. If my wife calls me in the middle of the day, I answer. She knows I’m busy, I’m dealing with something and how to read a text message. If she calls me I say, “This is Ellie. Give me a second. Let me answer this,” then, “I’m in a meeting, what’s up?” She’s like, “Max fell at school. One of us has got to get them.” That requires immediate attention. You start to understand those things. This comes back to email etiquette.
If you’re one of these people who constantly calls people, they don’t answer and text you back, you’re wasting their time. Be honest. Understand that. People who are successful value their time. There was a period of my life where I felt like an ass because I started to become selfish and protective of my time. I also started to make a lot more money. I was A lot more successful and protective of it. There’s a double-edged sword there but you got to be mindful of this.
The “At My Last Company” Guy
Number nine, here’s how we did it at my last company guy. There are a small handful of things that you could say to me that irritate me more than that. Especially early when you get people that come in right away, that are talking about the way their old boss handled things and their old company handled things because there are undertones of that of, “I don’t like the way things are done here.” I’m a pretty open-minded guy to new ideas unless you lead with that. To me, that’s saying, “No offense. I’m just putting my fists up on what you’re going to say next.” My immediate thought always is, “If you did it well in your last company, why are you here? Why didn’t you stay there if they’re great? Why were you looking for a job?” Don’t pick and choose the things you liked at the old place when you’re not looking at the things that we do much better.
There’s a tactful and strategic way to talk about this. What I’ve seen done in the past is this and this is why it worked or it didn’t. That’s an awesome piece of feedback. It’s lazy to say, “At the last job is this. This is how we used to do things. This is how I always used to do things.” “What got you here?” When I hear this, I typically walk into the person’s manager’s office and I’m like, “Be careful, I’m starting to see warning signs.” To me, it’s a major warning sign that a person can’t adapt, change or take the things that we saw in the interview, and incorporate them into our world and be successful.
It’s a red flag for job fit like, “This wasn’t a good job fit or culture fit,” and doesn’t make them or your company bad. You just might be different. They might be coming from a big company and now they’re in a small company. They want you to run like a big company. That’s never going to happen. It could be the opposite of that. It could be a different industry but it’s a red flag that this wasn’t a fit from the start. Some of that you can fix in the interview process. Some of that you have to see once they get there.
This is a story I haven’t told you. We had a guy who used to work for one of our vendors and he was good friends with Eddie. I’ve met him a couple of times and he left his old job. He was putting his resume out there. We’re like, “We’re going to hire this guy.” We interviewed him. Every time we talked to him, something else cropped up like there was an issue or a problem or this or that. He was going to get into sales. At one point, I pulled Eddie and Angelo aside and said, “If he can’t get the offer letter signed with us, he can’t sell here. This is the easiest sale there is. Just simply signing.” We’ve lined this up for this person. In the old days, I would have thought, “This is my fault. We’re making it too complicated.” We got a business. This is how the business runs. This is how we function. It works for a lot of people. If we can’t get over this initial hurdle, we got to say, “Let’s cut it now.”
The Guy Asking For The Minutes
It’s almost a little employment test right out of the gate, “If you can’t follow a simple instruction, you’re not going to follow any of our simple instructions after this.” Is someone going to be sending minutes out?
I was thinking you got less to do than me.
This is number ten on our list. I don’t like this guy. If you’re the boss and you ask someone in there to take notes for you, that’s one thing. You got to take some notes because maybe you’re up in front, presenting and taking a more active role. It’s harder for you to take notes. When you’re the mid-level person in the middle of the meeting who’s asking if minutes will be sent out, one it’s a bit of a kiss-ass move. You want the boss to know that you would love to reread the minutes from the meeting because they’re impactful to your life. Two, there’s almost an arrow pretentiousness in that of, “I’m not going to be taking good enough notes. Will someone lower than me in this meeting do it for me?” I don’t know why this one bothers me so much but whenever someone in a meeting says, “Will minutes be sent out from this?” It annoys me.
It annoys me if it comes from someone other than the boss but when I walk into a meeting and a lot of these happen over Zoom nowadays and I say, “Thank you all for coming. Just an FYI, Carla is going to be taking notes. She’s going to distribute those at the end of the meeting. It’ll have the Zoom link on it.” To me, that’s preparedness and saying, “We’re getting on this.” Carla understands that’s one of the things I want her to do and she’s on board to do it. We’ve had this conversation and she can type way better than I can. The notes are great. Everything’s organized. It’s great.
If you’re an underling and you come in saying that, it annoys me for this reason. You’re entitled and you don’t think you need to take notes. There are many studies out there that say, “If you’re going to learn and retain something, active note-taking is the most important thing you can do.” It’s the number one thing you can do. I have a side hustle where I do consulting. My notes are 400 pages in a Word doc. It’s been over a decade. I have everything there. Everything’s keyworded. Whenever we go to a meeting, I take my notes. When someone has a question, sometimes later on, I pull up my notes. I got everything in there. I can go to the meeting, the date and look at it. In meetings, sometimes I’m like, “What did we decide about this?” They can’t find it. I pull my notes up and it’s right there.
If you’re inside of a structure or someone’s providing you the notes, that’s awesome but your opinion matters too. Either add to those notes and keep them yourself, jot them down your way or take the initiative to find yourself taking your own so you can control that and it backstops you. None of us can remember everything. The reason it annoys you is maybe you are constantly taking notes. Whenever I see you’re scribbling stuff down because you know you have to do that. Someone else that’s saying, “Can you do this for me?” Fundamentally, it’s broken.
It annoys me and I don’t take pages of notes. I might write down 6 or 7 bullets that I’m going to take action on. That’s a leftover behavior from college. You want the professor to see that you’re taking earnest notes the whole time or they might call on you. Some people stick with them. I write down shit that I’m going to do after the meeting and that’s all I write.
I write down two things. I write down anything that helps me remember the meeting that might be useful. If there is something is happening up here that is a big picture, I might take down some bullets. In six months, if I want to recall this meeting, I can go back to it and then what I might do at the bottom is put to do, an arrow or highlight and say, “This is an actionable item.” My brain works differently than your brain but for me, it’s a system of recall that lets me continue to build. Thematically with this, people who are too lazy and don’t respect other people’s time is what annoys us because by and large, with the exception of this show, we don’t waste a lot of time. We are action-forward guys who have gotten pretty far in both private and public sector. It’s because we know how to capitalize on these things and mitigate the problems.
I’m going to throw in one bonus one before we finish and that is, “Will there be a vegetarian option or is there peanuts in any of the food that’s going to be there for lunch?” Screw you. If you have a peanut allergy, bring your sandwich with you. Too bad, I don’t care that Chick-fil-A waffle fries in peanut oil. That’s your problem. If you choose not to eat carnivorous the way I do, go to hell, I’m paying for the meal. It’s going to be fried chicken. It’s going to be Chick-fil-A and there’s going to be waffle fries. That’s it. I’m not getting a big bowl of lettuce. Whenever an admin would come to ask me and say someone asked that they’d be vegetarian and I know you want a Chick-fil-A tender, I would be like, “They should bring their food.” I have zero patience for any of that garbage. That’s me personally but I don’t give a shit if your kid has a peanut allergy. You should know that. I’m not preparing for 1 kid out of 20.
It’s one of the reasons why I married my wife. She’s mostly a vegetarian but she’s not one of those people who when the waiter shows up says, “I’m a vegetarian and everyone has to feel bad that they’re eating meat.” She does it quietly. If she goes somewhere where there are mostly meat options, she figures out how to navigate around it. She doesn’t make it your problem.
She always finds something to eat and never says a word to anyone that, “I’m a vegetarian.” A lot of people will worry more about her than she ever says. She’ll say, “Don’t worry about me. I always find something.” It’s never like, “Will there be vegetarian options?” You’re putting that on the host that they have to worry about cooking just for you when the other 30 people at this party are not tough shit. You chose that lifestyle, bring something with you. Bring a bag of carrots. We should do a lot more of these because this felt cathartic. I feel like I was on a couch with my psychiatrist and I was getting out some deep-seated shit right out.
A thing that would make this better is if we were on an airplane, I was in row 3 and you are in row 37.
It would be even better and if we had Bourbon to do this. The next one we do is we should be drinking straight Bourbon and we can get into how we feel.
Let’s have four bottles of Brunello and record.
See you, Frankie. I hope you don’t irritate me.
See you, Ian.