Friday 29th of May 2020

the back door to leadership...

Surprising paths to leadership

Successful political and corporate careers are not always privileged or inevitable.

What does it take to become a political or corporate giant? We've been led to believe it involves going to the right school and university ahead of a dazzling career in law or finance. So many successful leaders arrive with a sense of destiny and inevitability.

Then there's Dick Cheney - one of America's most powerful vice presidents.


He served four Republican presidents and was a prominent US defence secretary. And before his foray into politics, he was chairman and CEO of Halliburton, one of the world's largest oil field services companies. It's a political and business track record suggesting a smooth and privileged transition from Nebraska to the White House.

Cheney, however, dropped out of his doctorate studies at Yale – twice – due to poor grades. He even worked as a lineman after returning to his studies, and eventually claimed degrees in political science from the University of Wyoming.

Yet, Cheney's story isn’t unusual. In fact, it's surprising just how many of history’s most dominant corporate and political figures have taken unconventional paths to power.

Look at one of the presidents Cheney worked under – Ronald Reagan. One of America’s most popular presidents was a student with a modest record who happened to make it big in the entertainment industry.

Before he was sworn in as California's governor in 1967, Reagan was most typically found onscreen in one of the Hollywood films where he first found fame. His trademark "win one for the Gipper" was a political slogan straight from a wartime movie script … delivered by the Gipper himself.

Then there's Reagan's predecessor, Democrat Jimmy Carter. The diligent student from Georgia graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1946 with a science degree and worked on nuclear submarines. But after his father died in 1953, Carter abandoned the Navy to manage his family's peanut-growing business. And although the peanut farm eventually became profitable, Carter and his young family first spent a year in public housing to pay off debts.

Perhaps the greatest story of triumph over adversity in US political history belongs to founding father Benjamin Franklin. The 15th of 17 children and the son of a candlemaker, Franklin had just two years' formal education. As well as being variously described as an inventor, publisher, humorist, thinker, scientist and diplomat, Franklin was a hero of America's independence movement.

Australia has also had its fair share of unexpected ascensions to the biggest chair in the land.

Three-time Australian Prime Minister Andrew Fisher grew up in Scotland and left school in his teens to work down the mines. After emigrating to Australia aged 23, Fisher moved from union organiser to successful politician, and was credited with establishing the Aussie tradition of the "fair go".

Another iconic Australian leader, Labor’s Ben Chifley, joined the NSW Government Railways as a shop boy at 17 and worked as an engine cleaner and fireman in regional Bathurst. When he was 24, Chifley was the youngest first-class locomotive driver in the NSW railways. He became a union advocate and then studied economics and finance before entering parliament in 1928.

A month before World War II ended, Chifley became Australia’s 16th prime minister and one of the labour movement's greatest warriors.

And just like Cheney's rise to the top at Halliburton, the business world has contributed an extraordinary number of unlikely success stories – perhaps none greater than US steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.

Born in modest circumstances in Scotland in 1835, Carnegie began his illustrious professional career aged 13 in a textile mill. After taking on jobs as a messenger boy, factory worker and telegraph operator, the hard-working Carnegie became a superintendent on the Pennsylvania Railroad and started investing in railways, oil and steel.

Carnegie became the richest man in the world after selling his steel interests to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for US$303 million. The rest, as they say, is history: he spent the rest of his life giving even more than that away, mainly donating to universities and charitable causes.

Another fabulously wealthy American, John D. Rockefeller, had no formal higher education at all. Studying only bookkeeping before starting work at age 16, he nevertheless went on to go down in history as an American oil magnate, founding the Standard Oil Company at age 31.

Around the time Rockefeller began accumulating his extraordinary wealth, George Eastman left school to work as an office boy at an insurance agency. After his father died, 15-year-old George had to earn money to support his mother and older sisters. Soon, however, he became a passionate photographer and began experimenting with glass plates coated in gelatin and silver bromide.

In 1888, aged 34, Eastman created a simple camera and then devised a way to make flexible transparent film. Four years later, he established Eastman Kodak Company and revolutionised the photographic industry. Like Carnegie and Rockefeller, Eastman later became a noted philanthropist.

Automotive visionary Henry Ford also left the family farm in his teens with little formal education to work as an apprentice in a Detroit machine shop. The assembly line and the vehicles still carrying his name are legacies of his engineering and business success.

Then there's founder and CEO of fast-food chain Wendy’s, Dave Thomas, who chose to leave high school at 15 to take a full-time job at a restaurant. Despite his fame and wealth, Thomas regretted this teenage decision so much he went back to school 45 years later. An obituary recorded that his 1993 Fort Lauderdale graduating class voted him "Most Likely to Succeed".

The subject of many a film dramatisation himself, Steve Jobs also followed an unconventional path, dropping out of his Oregon computing class to study Zen Buddhism in India. Funnily enough, he didn’t feel the urge to return to college once he and Steve Wozniak started working together on a project called Apple.

Like so many successful leaders before him, one of the century's most celebrated entrepreneurs triumphed without relying on family privilege or higher education honours. Maybe there's a lesson there for all of us.

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Successful political and corporate careers are not always privileged or inevitable? 
In the past, leadership was the privilege of kings, queens and emperors or Ghengis Khan. Some of these came on the scene like presidents today, but thereafter most rulers were hereditary position, whether they knew what they were doing or not. The presence of religious beliefs helped in securing the "god given right to rule". Due to the fragmentation of humanity with languages, traditions and geography, there were many such rulers with tinpot ambitions and like with some Roman rulers, the opposition to the “empire” or tinpot fiefdom had to be suppressed, till one ran out of troops on the edges. It’s a long history of bunfights

With modern democracy, the system of “leadership” should belong to the people, but as nearly inevitable, the system is hierarchised to weed out the incompetent, the plodders, the psychopaths and the unwilling in position of leadership. Despite this, we nearly always end up with energised ruthless people in such position, due to the over-intellectualisation of alternative compromise by intelligent people who cannot cut it at the top. Ruthless people will chose quickly whatever suits them and stick by it, even if it’s completely wrong. 

In regard to general politics, as mentioned before, the right side of politics is often unapologetic about the present ruthless competitive capitalistic system. The left side of politics, in the present climate, is unable to marry social policies such as “equality” and a need for capitalism, without appearing to be socialist. It walk sideways funnily.

People like Cheney, Trump, Bolton, irregardless of their “humble” origins, make it to the top because they are sociopaths. Psychopaths are often of low intellect, while sociopaths are learned bods in the art of deception and cunning, with various level of disregard for others. Compassion is always in relation to their self rather than to other people well-being. Getting to the top is easy for them, using various stratagems, including ridiculing opponents and making promises that they know they will never keep. Their only problem is to combat other sociopaths for the job, thus the most apt a cultivating a coterie of other sociopath wins. 

Even Alexander Pope, a sickly frail little man maintained his glorious literary position by ridiculing opponents , by secretive and devious means. Samuel Johnson described Pope thus:
"He hardly drank tea without a stratagem.

In regard to the left and right side of politics, though left-handed people make up only about 10 percent of the population, studies find that individuals who are left-handed score higher when it comes to creativity, imagination, daydreaming, intuition and leadership. They also seem better at rhythm and visualisation  Males who are left-handed are 27 per cent more likely to make “top jobs”. This does not mean that left-handed people are sociopaths, but marry sociopathy and left-handedness, and you could get a wicked combo.

Benjamin Franklin and Henry Ford were left-handed, along with four of the last five U.S. presidents. 
Trump is left-handed and writes with complete disregard for conventions, like signing official documents at the top instead of at the end… Barak Obama is also left-handed… Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, is left handed — as are famous people including Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Napoleon (debatable), Oprah Winfrey… England's Prince William is also a lefty. Michelangelo, Raphael, Renoir were left-handed. 

One does not know whether a certain inferiority complex in using the “wrong” hand encourages people to become more assertive, rather than knowledgeably intellectual. Tony Abbott is a lefty and a major lying bastard who got to the top. In some countries, using the left hand is a no-no, only reserved for hygienic wiping of the butt.

Left-handed people are said to be good at complex reasoning, resulting in a high number of lefty Nobel Prize winners, writers, artists, musicians, architects and mathematicians. According to research published in the American Journal of Psychology, lefties appear to be better at divergent thinking.

Left-handers may have the edge in competitions where opponents face each other. Here, Gus has to admit he is not left-handed but left-footed. This was a plus when playing soccer, but a curse when dancing: my hands and my feet could not coordinate with the moves. I can use most tools with both hands. I can easily teach my left hand to do “right-handed” stuff, but I try to stay clear from sociopathy, though sometimes it is difficult not to treat people as being idiots — not because of a superiority complex, but because they are idiots by choice, could do better but do not want to learn nor be curious. This irks me. As a leader I could become the most ruthless bastard that ever lived. I only run my own show...

Thus the individual decision to become “a leader” has to be made, irregardless of left or right-handedness, with an ideal to serve using one of the main tools of politics, Left wing or Right wing, while having to sociopathically fight the “other side” with contempt, otherwise one appears weak. We thus often end up with a nasty warring despot in charge, lying smoothly on the corners — Scott Morrison included.

For the spiders: see:

sleeping on the top bunk...

As Western leaders came together in northern France on Thursday to sign a declaration honoring the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasions, US President Donald Trump couldn’t escape the need to put a personal spin on things, signing the top of the document instead of the bottom, as every other leader did.

Trump just has to do things his own way, doesn’t he? Signing the proclamation of leaders representing the Allied Powers on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day amphibious landings in France’s Normandy region was no different: whereas the other 15 diplomats signed their names on the bottom of the document, Trump put his John Hancock across the top


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