Whatever else I accomplish in life, I certainly hope I keep my non-douchebaggy status. Treat each person you meet with respect, kindness and thoughtfulness. It’s a standard we can all strive for, but some seem to fall extra short. So here are my muses on the types of Douchebags you can run across in the tech world, and how not to be one.
1.) CEOs Whose Cockiness is Just Dickiness
Who Are You: You bark orders at waiters and never say thank you or please. Your sense of entitlement is only outweighed by your rudeness. Some small measure of success has made you actually believe that you’re better than other people so you treat others like 2nd class citizens and tend to be a glad-handing sycophant by day and insecure sad little child by night.
What’s the Remedy: This is a tough one. Typically the only remedy is a visit by the Ghost of Christmas Future or your own financial demise. Vito Corleone was feared but he was also loved. Mark McCluskey (the police captain in The Godfater) was simply capped in the head. Remember that the next time you give some waiter your attitude at an Italian joint.
2.) The Self Aggrandized Investor/Venture Capitalist
Who Are You: Well Mr/Mrs Money Bags, you’re the person who only takes time to talk to someone when they are already a big shot. You only hobnob at parties with CEOs who have had (& will have) multi-million/ billion dollar exits and treat the little guy like they’re invisible. You never take time to ask others questions and listening to the sound of your own voice is like masturbation… you get off on it, but really no one wants to be around you when it’s going on.
What’s The Remedy: At social mixers make eye contact at least 20% of the time with people who approach you; temper negative feedback with some positive reinforcement on the struggles of trying to come up; don’t treat people differently based on the amount of money you think they can make you.
3.) The Uber-Annoying Service Provider
Who Are You: You corner us at mixers and tell stories about all the great things you do and how wonderful you are, without having any idea if we need your help. You’re persistent past the point of pestilent, and you have the tact and self awareness of a sledge-hammer tainted with cyanide.
What’s The Remedy: Don’t bother asking yourself if people like you, they don’t. Ask yourself if you’d want to spend 5 minutes with you, you wouldn’t. Being a service provider is one of the greatest professions and one that should engender a great deal of trust and always start and end with solving other people’s problems. Don’t be that problem.
4.) The Ineffectual Executive
Who Are You: In an 5 minute conversation you say the words Strategy, Strategic, & Strategizing over 3 dozen times. “I bring a discipline of strategizing over strategic strategy”. You take credit for items as absurd as the exploits of the Most Interesting Man in the World. And you’re a big fan of the dropping the phrase “I’m not scared to roll up my sleeves” – who would ever be scared of that….
What’s the Remedy: Learn & apply any current marketable skills.
5.) Business Dolts Who Devalue Engineers
Who Are You: You throw around the phrase “Code-Monkeys”. You consider it a badge of honor that you’re too important to know the difference between AJAX and Windex. You take no interest nor show any curiosity in how technical systems are built or maintained, and Engineering is the least valued/respected part of your organization.
What’s the Remedy: Have a conversation a day with a techie for 30 straight days. You’ll realize they’re smarter than you, more passionate about what they do, more engaged in their work and solve more interesting problems. If you still want to dis on engineering after that at least you should have some more tech slang to give you street cred.
6.) Tech Snobs Who Look Down on Business
Who Are You: Do you have a disdain for making money? Are words like “Conversion, Sales, Revenue Optimization” dirty language at your parties? Then you may be afflicted by the common disease known as Imtoocoolformyowngooditis. It’s dumb to bite the hand the feeds you, and even more lame to spite it with disdain. Sales and making money is the purest exchange of value, and without that no great tech invention would be a permanent fixture in our lives.
What’s the Remedy: Don’t be too smart for your own good. A students get great jobs, but hustling C students hire A students. Take time to learn how business leaders are able to affect people both one on one and in masses and you’ll see how to unlock the true potential of your inventions.
7.) The WannaBe Board of Advisor
Who Are You: You offer your board advisory skilz up repeatedly, but the only stock you have is in your brother-in-law’s startup up investment bank and a German foreign language film site that specializes in off color humor flicks. You’re a BIG fan of telling other how you can help them raise money and make connections. And sometimes you even generously offer up your part time CEOs services, and tout how you do the same for 6 other companies simultaneously.
What’s the Remedy: Don’t ever offer to be a Board of Advisor unless you’re asked first. If you’re services are actually in demand they will be sought out Casanova of Board Advising.
8.) Self-Entitled Social-Media HotShots
Who Are You: Your license plate reads “SCLEXPT”. You spend all day teaching the most computer illiterate people how to create a facebook page and twitter loggin and you mock anyone who doesn’t spend 3 hours a day updating their FB status or tweeting photos of their lunch. You have about as much “expertise” as 24-hour online certified priests, but tout your un-knowledge like a peacock on parade.
What’s the Remedy: Make somebody money. I’m offering a $1000 bounty for the first social media expert that has ever made money with their social stream. Here’s a tip: if you have more friends online than you do in real life, and they’re people you’ve never met, become more of an expert at forming real life relationships.
9.) The Wistful WouldhaveShouldhaveCouldhave ByStander
Who Are You: Have you said this phrase in the last week “Oh, I so had that idea two years ago”. Congratulations, as my dad would say “I’ll give you a shit medal”. Are you really going to tell me you could have done a better job creating Groupon? Oh yes that’s right you still live at home in your late 30s but are the captain of your weekend league ultimate frisbee team. You may have been the first of your friends to create an online bulletin board, but let’s be honest, it was just to download porn. Congratulations you still do that very well.
What’s The Remedy: Stop talking and start doing.
10.) The Hatter Trolls
Who Are You: You’re free time on work breaks, of which you take 15+ throughout the day because you hate what you do, is spent online talking shit about the accomplishments of others. You feel better for knocking down others while never putting yourself up to the light of scrutiny. You leave comments on blogs as Anonymous or MrBombastic. And you don’t just relegate your hating to online forms but take every instance to talk shit behind someone’s back, while praising them to their face.
What’s the Remedy: Drink Your Own Haterade. Sure there is plenty to criticize, just look at season 5 of Happy Day. But I personally think Jumping a Shark on waterskis and in a leather jacket is badass. You don’t get to be cool by talking shit about others unless you are the creator of American Idol, have a British accent and launch the career of a portly Irish woman who sings I Dreamed a Dream like an angel from heaven.