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Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Nightmares of Networking with "The Mad Genius"

30 years ago Alice Cooper wrote “Welcome To My Nightmare.” Alice has been playing too much golf, because he has no clue of what a nightmare really is. I am The Mad Genius, and welcome to “Networking Nightmares” where you shall truly know terror.

For my IT friends out there, this is not a computer network or a Web 2.0 social site. This is real face to face human interaction that has turned into a train wreck and then a horror story. But unlike the over glossed and grossed Hollywood fiascoes (including Jar Jar Binks), Networking Nightmares is a true psychological thriller (sans cameo by Hitchcock) because these stories happen every day, everywhere. And if you are unlucky enough to stumble into one, these Nightmares could happen to you!

Now you are probably wondering who The Mad Genius is. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. Seriously. I know how, and have the people and other means at my disposal to take care of yours. Your whereabouts and remains would be as mysteriously lost as Hoffa or Ricky Martin's career. You shall know when the time is right, but three things you can know now:

  1. I have more degrees than a thermometer.

  2. I am legally brain damaged.

  3. I have been referred to as the Lex Luthor of my field.

Yes, as my friends in Boston say, I am “wicked smaht.” But high IQ does not always translate into success, often because of a low EQ, or Emotional Quotient. Which brings us to Bob.

What about Bob? Bob was a Fraternity Brother of mine, a second generation engineer at one of the oldest and most reputable engineering institute's on the planet. Bob also did not learn (since he was an engineer from birth) that you do not talk AT someone, or even TO them, but with them. Bob's attempts at pickups are legendary in their futility, or were until he changed and evolved by learning one simple ratio that the Mad Genius will reveal to you once you have seen the horror of these errors.

Bob is a genuinely nice guy, and would do almost anything for his friends and co-workers. He is hard working, and fairly good looking. He smokes, which is as attractive as chewing dip or rubbing manure all over yourself (and smells just as good overall. Great way to turn off 80% of the population while endearing yourself to the other 20% of addicts out there. Why not go inhale pitch-blend and road tar, it is quicker and will cost less?).

Bob was a great guy to work with and be around, until he started interacting with the fairer sex or authorities. Then it was as just fun to sit back and watch the show like Friday the 13th, especially when you wanted to yell “Don't go through that door!” But he'd go through that door, and then there was blood. A lot of blood. We almost felt bad for him. Almost, but it was sooo entertaining!

Once as a freshman Bob was at a mixer with the Dean of Students. Normally we tried to keep young Bob away from influential people because of his bad case of “Pedial/Oral Syndrome” aka “Foot in the Mouth Disease”. This time there was no one to run interference between Bob and the Powers that Be on Campus so the Dean was stuck, in a corner, listening to Bob diatribe on ice fishing outside of Buffalo in a shack with 90 year old men stinking of camphor and cheap whiskey. Luckily we saved the Dean before Bob got into the part about the skinny dipping, varicose veins, and CPR.

Another time, Bob went begging for a grade from a professor. And he did have a semi-logical case, but his sales and negotiation skills were, umm, let us say, inferior to a drunk and lobotomized Barbie Doll trying to explain the intricacies of the SALT II Treaty.. After an hour in the hot little office with Bob (who hadn't showered in a week), the Prof just gave up, essentially crying “I have no clue what you are talking about! You have proven to have at best absolutely no knowledge of the basics of thermodynamics, something that is so intuitively obvious that the most casual of observers on 15th Street would understand. You exhibit a total lack of comprehension, comparable to a brain damaged sea cucumber! In the history of idiocy, you are clearly a Hall of Fame caliber nincompoop! But I will pass you Bob if you will just leave my office and de-stinkify yourself!” Bob got his “C”. OK, so maybe that time it worked.

One time, Bob was actually able to seal the deal with a girl. Was probably a combination of law of large numbers (ten thousand rejections before an acceptance), an alignment of the planets, and the fact that the girl was a nut-job. Like nutty enough to make a squirrel explode with endorphic enthusiasm. Bob told us later that they were lying there in his bed and she just kept going on and on about how much she loved bacon. For over an hour. At three a. m. And it was a surprise to him, because somehow he missed the flashing red lights and Robbie the Robot yelling “Danger! Danger Will Robinson!” And the thirty minute conversation on ketchup wasn't enough of a clue for Bob to realize that this was not the person to try to take home, unless home is Arkham. But maybe, just maybe, she held up the mirror for Bob to look at himself in.

After that he got much better. The changes were slow, and sometimes there were step backs (occasionally over a cliff), but Bob started to realize that in interactions, there is give and take, and in conversation at least is is better to be a taker than a giver.

Then a wise alumni informed the young engineer of the Golden Ratio in communication, the way to get what you want because people appreciate what a great conversationalist you are. And the ratio is this my little networkers: you have two eyes, two ears, and one mouth, and they are to be used in that proportion. Once I clued young Bob in on this, his successes exploded: the peach internships with a top financial company and with a Senator, the liaison position with the Trustees, eventually the Presidency of the student ambassadors on campus. Today Bob is the head salesman for a distillery, having unique success because as much as he loves to talk about his product, he watches and listens to understand what to talk about to his consumers to get maximum efficacy and make them feel like they are in power.

Not too bad for a high IQ low EQ engineer with a smoking addiction: two eyes plus two ears plus one mouth yields success.

Thus ends our Nightmare for this month my humanoid little friends. That beeping sound may be your alarm clock waking you, calling you back to your little reality. Or it may be awakening you to something more, a world you never knew that is bigger and bolder, filled with Network Nightmares you can only start to comprehend. We shall see, we shall see....

For more secrets, you may visit the TNNW Bio of "The Mad Genius", if you dare.

Posted to THE NATIONAL NETWORKER (TNNW). All rights reserved.

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