16 June 2010

Wednesday's HUMP - Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie - Origins of HUMP (Hugely Unimportant Midlevel Professional)

Andrew Cedotal of Styleite

I'm always flattered when asked for an interview -- Unless I'm being asked for an interview by the FBI. An old friend and agent told me, "Ask if you're the subject of the investigation. If not, tell them everything you know." It was good advice. Honesty is a good thing. Unless you're the subject of the investigation.

But this was a pleasant interview by a pleasant young man about pleasant things: J Press, Paul Fussell, Take Ivy, Toots Shor...And then Andrew Cedotal of Styleite.com leaned forward and asked, "When do you think it all started to go down hill?" I didn't need clarification. I talked. I talked a lot. But I don't think he got an answer. I have one now.

In 1990, I was sent to a 12 week Dale Carnegie course and I learned this: "Find what it is about someone that really pisses you off and turn it into a compliment." For example - If you're a disingenuous ass kisser who would sell your mother for one rung up the corporate ladder and you wear Kenneth Cole square toed shoes - - I'd say to you, "You know what I like about you next to those beautiful shoes? You're the most honest and straight forward man I've ever met. You tell it like it like it is and that's a very rare commodity today. How's your mother?"

There, I just saved you 12 weeks of nights away from your family. Carnegie published his first best seller, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" in the 1930s and I think it was the start of the end. I mean, the title alone is almost as bad as, "Relationship Manager." Whoever came up with that job description must have been a graduate of Dale Carnegie.

I'm not saying this was an honest country before Dale. Hell, this country has always been about selling. To make the most money with the least amount of effort. "Hey, Bill. Love your tie. That was some fun last night, huh? Let's hope our wives never find out. How about signing here on the dotted line so I can wrap this up and move onto the next prospect who'll happily listen to me tell him the exact opposite of what he really is.

God forbid you piss off someone with direct honesty. With the thinking, "friends at any cost" this country has endured almost a century of Dale Carnegie's, "telling people something they're not. " Is it any wonder no one gives a damn about manners or dress or the truth? It's a very sad thing because I think we're all subjects of this investigation.


La Maison Fou said...


My dad was a regional manager in his day,part of the corporate key to the washroom was a Dale Carnegie course.
I can still remember seeing the D.C. books around the house for reading and study.

Great thoughts and really true.


Matthew said...

You hit in precisely, and not only Dale Carnegie. No one cares (or very few) care about being well mannered, taking pride in one's dress, and self respect. Instead, the majority has become a bunch of slouched over slobs in t-shirts who chew with their mouth open and let the crumbs fall on their bellies while looking at their square toed shoes.

Tin-tins phred/dad said...

One of your best pieces!
Concise and totally accurate.

scaleworm said...

Well said sir, Well said.

Anonymous Texan said...

Yep, read Carnegie & Peale. Might throw in Lewis' Babbitt for fun. Not enough characters with character seasoned with a touch of Old School Ironass.Call me a dinosaur. Enuff said.

Anonymous said...

In your 20 year sales career you say you've been repeatedly fired because you spoke your mind and "pissed someone off with direct honesty." All the while, presumably, being a solid producer.

In my experience, it's the sales people who are overpaid and underproducing, and who are full of excuses for their failures, (My boss is a Kenneth Cole squared toe shoe wearing jerk) who get the axe.

longwing said...

I took that class and have neither friends nor influence so fuckem.

Those Tricks said...

I look forward to Trad HUMP insight.
My problem with faking being nice is I can't fake it. I wish I could, but no, no. Maybe I should read the Carnegie book.

Doug Richardson said...

Now depress yourself further: go watch a few episodes of "Lie To Me."

Beefeater said...

Sounds like a rough draft/sketch of "Revolutionary Road", which was an cinematic echo of Babbitt as mentioned earlier by a fellow Texan. I would note "American Beauty" as a corollary.

You have no problems getting to the issues at hand, TT. Why be bothered by the clothes?

Giuseppe said...

Hammer, nail, head...

TRVS said...

"I'd rather hurt you honestly, than mislead you with a lie...." who sang that? What I love most (and most who know him dislike most) about my DH is that he says it like it is. Some people can't handle the truth. Of course, tact is important. But you can be tactful and be honest, it's called graciousness.
Also, does any one else think that Carnegie & Cetodal look alike? Why does Cetodal always use "GD" when he writes? That's almost as offensive as flip flops.

tintin said...

Sorry about the serious delay in responding to comments.

La Maison- I had/have good friends who are fans of DC. An oldie but goodie was the Xerox Professional Sales Skill course where you just repeated what the customer said. We had lots of fun with that one in bars: "So, what I hear you saying is you want me to go f*** myself. Do I have that right?"

Matthew- You need to start a blog.

Dad, I know you didn't go through DC. Did you?

scaleworm- Hey, thanks. Whatcha doin' with your blog?

Anon Texan- Thank you for bringing up Babbitt. I started it in college and couldn't get into it. I suppose I couldn't relate. I sure as heck can relate now.

Anon- Did I say I was a good producer? I don't think so. But I had some very good excuses.

lwing- I'm your friend, if for nothing else, comments like yours.

Those Tricks- No! Don't go near that book. You seem to nice. And I'd hang onto that jungle purse. It suits you.

Doug - What's it about?

Beefeater- Your avatar is making me thirsty...Why am I bothered by the clothes? I don't think I am as much as 'the clothes' worn today speak to the proudly ignorant refusal to make an effort. Seems to me people take a lot of pride in being ignorant. Probly cause it's all they got.

Giuseppe- Hammer? I don't even know her.

TRVS - "Sometimes when we touch." That song now joins the word, 'awesome' as the two things you cannot mention in the comments section of the trad. You'd have to ask Andrew why he uses God damned so much. At least it's better than awesome.

Tact is important but DC is basic training for 'spin' and spin is the playground for the most despicable of all. Some come by it naturally while others sit through a 12 week course to learn it.

TRVS said...


RulingPart said...

I've written a response to this on my own meagre blog at:


I quoted you. Thought you should know.

tintin said...

Ruling Part- As I noted on your blog, I like what you've done. I'd like you to check out this post I did:


Building relationships, rather than 'winning friends' speaks not only to the choice of the words but what the effort is all about.

ann said...

Every time I drop by your site I am more impressed. I'm late to this conversation, but I'm with you, Tin-Tin. Well put, as always