Thursday, November 14, 2013

Huns of Fun

Brian and James and I have picked out our Hun names. We don't always go by them at work, only when we're feeling particularly oppressed by management. Then we call to each other, "Come, Arg. Come, Huuurg. Let us read from the book." Because in our minds, Huns talked like Klingons. And then we gather around James's desk and read from the paperback that I found in the lunch room, on top of a stack of romance and mystery novels, and this book, the title of which I am not making up, is Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, by Wess Roberts, PhD. Do yourself a favor. GOOGLE THAT SHIT.

It is, as you might have guessed, musings of effective leadership from Attila himself.  This book kind of works like The Bible. You can randomly open it up to any page and get a quote for the day. I'll do it right now...and I've opened it to page 36, "Discipline is not suppression. It is the teaching of correct ways expected of Huns." That's going on my kids' bathroom mirror.

Or this one here on page 53. This will no doubt clear up some issues I've had with dressing for success. "When on the hunt, be prepared to hunt. Take your best bow and lance. Wear clothing that will serve you well as you chase the wild beasts in the forest." This no doubt inspired Ross Perot's review of the book, "The principles are timeless." Because the bit about chasing wild beasts through the forest is so fucking relevant in corporate America its as if time has stood still for the last 1,500 years.

And just for the members of my audience who might not know, Attila the Hun ruled the Hunnish empire in the 5th century, was the enemy of the Roman empire, the sacker of countries, the plunderer of the Balkans, the murderer of lots and lots of people. According to the book, this book, you know, THE ONE THAT IS SAYING HE'S A GUY PEOPLE SHOULD WORK FOR, his last wife was the young daughter of one of his chieftains who he'd killed for being a disobedient Hun. The daughter had begged Attila not to kill him but he did it anyway, and then he married her. What do you think the odds are that he proposed and gave her time to think about it?

Which is why I'm confused as to why on page 19 "empathy" is listed as one of Attila's leadership qualities. "Chieftains must develop empathy - an appreciation for and an understanding of the values of others, a sensitivity for other cultures, beliefs and traditions" ...Except when you want to marry their daughter. Or if you want to invade Italy.

This historical fact does not strike confidence in the hearts of me and my coworkers when we read the reviews from guys like Andrew P. Calhoun, Jr. chairman of The Resource Group, "Attila could well lead any corporation today."  Reeeeally? Did this guy actually read the book or was he just focusing on the chapter about booty?

"He means treasure, guys" I told Brian and James, after we giggled and snorted at the following quote on page 77, "Booty has become a powerful force that ignites the spirits of our warriors, driving them to commit their talents to any nation that bribes them into service."

"Sure he does," Brian said.

"Remind me to bring up this organization's lack of spirit-igniting booty at my next evaluation," said James.

"We long to be bribed into service," I agreed, like a good Hun.

There is a lot of talk in the book about how to be a good Hun. For instance, page 104, "Good Huns normally achieve what their Chieftains expect from them." However, this contradicts the next page which says, "For Huns, conflict is a natural state." But the next quote is perhaps my favorite, "Huns only make enemies on purpose."

You will never be the accidental enemy of a Hun, because conflict is their natural state and they will kill you on purpose. With an empathetic heart and an eye on the booty.

Now go start a company.

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