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Sunday, August 22, 2010


"Bring Me The Witch's Broomstick!"

-Douglas Castle,

Dear Friends, Colleagues, Members and Leaders-In-The Making:

I have some faith in an inherent element of Goodness in Human Nature. Although it's been tested with great frequency (and has caused me some increment of disillusionment with every "exception"), I cling to it with tenacity and fuel it with some cautious optimism.

Having said that, I wanted to caution you about a particular behavior exhibited by some of the people in the world of business that can cause you to waste a great deal of time and to leave you very, very disappointed -- usually with nothing but empty pockets and skepticism to show for having had the experience. They take advantage of your obvious hunger or need for assistance or resources, claim to have a solution for you ("I can really help you. Really!"), but there is always a condition: You must do something for them FIRST. And if you are eager, and getting a bit desperate, they simply take advantage of you so that they can profit by either your trusting nature, or your compelling need.

This behavior reminds me of the Wizard's promise to Dorothy and her three friends in the movie "The Wizard Of Oz." The Wizard, amidst much bravado, intimidating posturing and fanfare, told Dorothy that he would solve her problem (i.e., getting back home to Kansas), and each of the most troubling problems of her entourage if they would merely bring him (the Wizard) "the witch's broomstick." Please note that the Wizard was, in fact, a powerless fraud looking for a priceless collectible; the witch was feared throughout Oz because her powers were virtually limitless; and that the task of getting the witch's broomstick was all but impossible.

But the four pilgrims were not fully aware of any of the above three things at the time they agreed to the Wizard's bargain. All they believed (key word here: believed) was that the Wizard had the power to do anything for them (he was very convincing), and that all they needed to do was deliver the super-swiffer to the Wizard and he would, in his greatness and generosity, grant them their greatest wishes [wizards and genies are similar in this regard -- they have this thing about looking powerful and capable, they always promise to grant you several wishes, and they always require that you do something for them first. It must be some sort of cosmic law. And they favor people who have been down on their luck and are desperate for a security or prosperity -- it doesn't even have to be obsessive greed.]

The clueless four never stopped to think that if the Wizard had actually possessed all of the power which he had professed, he could have simply gotten the broomstick himself on a whim. But the four were needy, desperate, and perhaps a little bit kept them from seeing that they were being used by a manipulator. Don't go rubbing lamps or chasing broomsticks. It's far better to search a bit longer for a person who 1) actually can help you directly or through a referral, and who 2) actually will help you directly without sending you out on a fool's errand first.

My business exposure to this kind of manipulation has been (I'm feeling quite ashamed here) fascinating. Here are a few examples of my falling (or almost falling) into the "Bring me the witch's broomstick!" trap:

1) A fellow with an ambitious start-up business venture who initiated a conversation by offered me a salary (a five-year contract) of in excess of $100,000 per year... if I could first raise $5,000,000 for his company. He was offering me an opportunity! I could get a high salary (not even a commission contingent on delivery, or production or results -- which might have actually made some sense) if I ran about on my own and raised him all of the money he needed for his company;

2) An "aristocratic" older woman with a magnificent apartment in a wonderful part of Manhattan (her apartment featured all manner or statuary, balconies, 40 - foot ceilings, sconces, collectible antique furniture and occupied a full floor of a building - it was something to rival the Sistine Chapel) who said that I was a young genius and that she wanted to introduce me to some of the most influential people in Manhattan at a wonderful catered affair at her place -- If I paid her a mere $10,000 to host a big party in my honor. I later found out that she tried to arrange at least one such soiree per month because she had a massive obligation to the Internal Revenue Service, and was barely able to cover her living expenses;

3) A fellow who heard my pleas for contributors (I was an advisor to the Board of Trustees of a young Not-For-Profit organization), and sounded like he was "tapped by God" to help me and our cause -- he actually had no money, but had an affiliate program, where if I put an affiliate link to his company (one of those "Power Mall"-type deals on my website, my foundation could derive tremendous commissions. He was looking for placement on my website so he could sell more of his stuff. Plain and simple.

Beware of the wizard who magically appears in your life and offers you help in your most desperate moments -- some of these people sincerely want to help and to be a part of your happiness and success...but too many of them are opportunists who are dangling a carrot in front of you just to take advantage of you.

Get rid of these lower-level opportunists as quickly as you suspect them. Don't waste your time. It is far better to invest your time with people who can and want to help you, than with people who see your disadvantage and want to enslave your for their own ends.


Douglas Castle

p.s. It is also wise to invest time in trying to find your friends and kindred spirits than to try to convince skeptics, naysayers and detractors to work with you. In the most magical terms, find someone who is actually looking for you.


Douglas Castle
Co-Chairman and CEO

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1 comment:

robertedwardfay said...

Thank you Douglas for your honesty about historical events that were looking to take you.

This type of cautionary tales is helpful to the readership.

People want to believe... in the goodness of people.

As TNNWC Group can help us guard against this type of stuff that sucks the will out of people, then so much the better.

Is this part of the collaborative support services package that TNNWC Group offers?

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