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Share your NEGATIVE role models

Anything related to matters of the mind

Maxkaz

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“All happy families are happy in similar way. Each unhappy family is unhappy in their own way” (Russian proverb)​



As much of my work on my business is physical and do not require much brain power, I do a lot of listening and thinking. And recently something struck me. Although we are usually studying examples of successful businessmen in books and Youtube videos, I actually much more into negative examples when I am about to make a business decision. Specifically, I do not ask myself: “What XXX would do now?” I am asking myself: “Am I not behaving like YYY right now?”

This thought brought me to the idea of a negative role model. The problem with them is that we usually do not have many of those in the spotlight. Apart from Elizabeth Holmes I really can`t remember any FAMOUS failures in business. And even if there are, they are usually not relevant for those of us who are still building or starting to build. And those relevant, those who never got there although tried – are discarded by survivor bias.

Another problem with this type of people is our own bias. We live in a culture where it is considered to focus on ourselves first. When we fail – we look for our mistakes. When someone else fail – we look the other way. And that is not wise as wise people must learn on others` mistakes, not just their own.

What is a negative role model? In my opinion it is an entrepreneur that started, maybe made progress, but eventually failed. I do not count wannabes here. So in order to become a model they still need to possess some strengths. But they also must have some flaws which barred their way to success.

In the next post I will share my personal negative models and my thoughts on the reasons of their failure. If this seems to you a good idea – share yours and let us make it a running thread, a library of failures for us to learn from!
 
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Maxkaz

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Shimon (my father)​

Strengths:
  • Brilliant engineer
  • Entrepreneur at heart

Flaws:

  • Desperation to relinquish control

Description:

I have to start with my father as his model made the most impact on me and in the darkest hour of the night I am trembling that some day I may end in his shoes.

My father was 25 when Soviet Union collapsed and business was allowed in Russia. He was a brilliant engineer and just finished his university where he studied printing machines. He got together with one of his uni buddies and together they bought a unique printing facility, only rivaled by one other plant in European Russia. They started selling, opened a publishing business and all went well. Than my father got frustrated with all the bureaucracy and sales and slowly moved to the role of Head of the Production. He spent all his time in the factory leaving office to his partner. At some point that partner took all the money and disappeared.

Sour stuff, but not unresolvable. My father kept himself together, jumped to the office, found finances to keep the plan and found another school friend, another partner. And it all happened again. And again. And again. In total until the age of 60 my father lost and bought back the same plant 6 times with the same story repeating over and over: plant struggles, father makes it work, plant flourishes, father focuses on production and gives control to partner, partner crushes the business, usually by stealing.

By 60 my father is a broken man. He has no money and may have to work until death. His business is business cards. He does not trust anyone. His solution after some 4th time was to start dragging me and my brother into his business. I escaped and am branded traitor. Brother is working with him and is a broke lonely 35-year games addict.



Emil​


Strengths:

-none that I know of-

Flaws:
  • Absent focus
  • Very specific type of blaimer


Description:

Emil is a newest addition to my list. He is no businessman but he failed so spectacularly in front of my eyes so I had to dissect him.

As I wrote in my recent post, I recently finished a course on Rope Access. There were 6 of us in the group and I was the only entrepreneur, all the others were sent there by their employers. Emil was one of them. He came to Israel in the same time as me, but did not learn the Hebrew language and did not integrate. Instead he just went to work in the hospitality business and got all the troubles one can get from that occupation when struck by first COVID and then war. He is in a very deep financial trouble now and has a family to sustain.

As he has trouble with Hebrew, on the course he stuck with me to be his translator and part-time teacher. He was last to finish all the tasks and the only one who had to get the explanations on what to do not just before but during the task. He never trained on his own, never took equipment home for practice as others did. When I asked him why – he answered that he is learning to code and has assignments to make.

The interesting part in him was his response to failures. When stuck (and when teacher forbode me to explain to him what to do) he started blaiming everything around him. The harness is not comfy. The weather is not suitable. He is too weak. He is a coder, not a blue collar. All that stuff, over and over again. On the exam he begged the trainer to let him pass as “He desperately needs the job”. Still he failed and I honestly do not know, how will he solve it with his employer who payed for the course.

BTW “I want to be a coder” is the same in Israel as “I want to be a screenwriter” in LA. Every waiter and gas station employee learns to code in hope to someday get into tech. So his coding is mainly wishful thinking


Valentin​

Strengths:
  • Knows how to build business
  • Good negotiator
Flaws:

  • Does not know how to learn
  • Afraid of his success
  • Does not believe in investing in business

Description:

Valentin is my partner in business. We met about a year ago when I worked at a factory and was running a side-hustle of fixing faucets. He ran (and still do) a cleaning business with him and his mother as the main workforce. We bonded as I was in desperate need for stability in my business and he had a very stable one while I had some “jumpy cash” and he needed some way to earn additional money as he recently got into lengthy lawsuit with the government. Naturally we decided to work together and exchange experiences and skills.

Valentin shared his business model and proceses with me. This allowed me to quit my job in 2 months as 1.5 days of cleaning Valentin-style made me the same money as 12-hour shifts at the factory. I kept cleaning at 1.5 days and dedicated my additional time for expanding my repair business. Valentin had cleanings all workdays but he finished around 1-2 PM and could join me. We started working together.

Soon problems arose. Although Valentin has a quick tongue and was able to negotiate great deals, he was not ready to take them on him. He simply was not learning. Although we worked together for months, he never mastered the tasks we were doing. He was a simple helper and intended to stay one.

Also he was bad at scheduling. At some points we lost several good clients as he promised two people to do the work at the same time.

The other problem was his hunger for money. It was not very easy to buy something, even nessesary, while with him.

In the end all that built tension among us and we split with him cursing, grabbing equipment he knows not how to use and threatening some “extreme measures” he would resolve to if we would not buy off his part of equipment without appreciation of wear and tear. As of now – he is still working as a cleaner and returned to the same situation as befor, only his elderly mother can`t accompany him anymore.


Oleg​

Strengths:
  • Visibility
  • Fearlessness
Flaws:
  • Complete disregard for the commandments of Need and Entry
  • Inability to comprehend audiences other than similar to him

Description:

No one knows where Oleg is coming from. Legend says, he was sprung from the ground and immediately started to ‘friend’ everyone on Facebook who even vaguely resembled entrepreneur. He started to write millions of posts, mainly focused on a secret technique to ‘double profits’ he allegedly possessed. At first he invited millionairs to contact him. When they (apparently feeling unworthy) failed to show up, he asked for those with 100 thousand monthly cashflow. Those also did not show up and he started to claim personal crysis and look for a mentor. Mentors also did not form a queue…

In the end he started cleaning (as an employee) and fell into depression. Once every month or two he wakes up, starts posting amateurish props for local businesses and then publishes some challenge like “Let us all start earning 100 000 NIS in 6 months”, usually followed by “Anyone who know how to earn 100 000 NIS per month please show up”. Sometimes people show up and start describing their businesses in the comments but he finds all of them unsuitable for him. He seems to find only one activity suitable for him – walking around entrepreneurs and reciting motivational quotes around them (for a percent of their profits) and seems to believe that this way he can be a blessing for any business out there. He knows nothing of creating value or solving problems. He is focused only on money and not on clients or work.

As of now he is once again screaming all over FB about yet another challenge and this screaming actually motivated me to write this post.
 

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Personally, I would not share others flaws openly. We all have them, and most people try their best.

At the end of the day we are only really accountable for our own actions. And people are best taken for who they are, not who we want them to be.
 

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