Do you follow the news?
Chris Albrecht, the chief executive of Home Box Office, was asked to resign on May 10th, three days after he was accused of assaulting his girlfriend in the parking lot of the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. Two days later he pleaded no contest and agreed to pay a fine. A week later, I spotted a photo of Albrecht and his girlfriend, smiling, on the Post’s Page Six, under the headline "A night on the town."
Paul Wolfowitz announced his resignation as president of the World Bank on May 17th. The decision came four days after a special committee concluded that he had violated his contract by arranging the generous pay and promotion package for Shala Ali Raza, his companion. On Saturday morning May 19th, I spotted Wolfowitz standing in front of the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, very much at ease. My guess is he had met his buddies for their weekly breakfast.
And…let’s not forget Martha Stewart. Released from jail, she sauntered off the helicopter with freshly streaked hair wearing the famed poncho she had knitted while doing time. She certainly wasn’t hiding in plain sight.
One might assume that these misbehaving executives were tempted to lay low. Close the blinds. Cancel dinner. Get out of town. But no…they all chose to assume a brazen posture that also conveys confidence, resilience and optimism in the face of defeat.
Lord knows it’s tempting to fall into hopelessness when the going gets tough. It takes far more discipline and mental fortitude to push through the bad days and summon up the courage to view the world in both the short-term and the long-term. The short-term is Albrecht and Wolfowitz were dumped. The long-term is they see themselves as tough. They’re confident in their abilities. And they’re sending out clear signals that they’re ready for the next challenge.
While these stories are exceptional, there’s wisdom to be gleaned from their actions.
#1: Drive the visuals. When you’re passed over for promotion or excluded from a meeting, grieve privately but smile for the camera. Maintain your equilibrium.
#2: Control the spin. Create the best case scenario for explaining what happened and nail it. Learn how to mumble the corporate-speak for things just didn’t work out.
#3: Adopt an attitude of resilience. Even if you’re crushed, you need to create an impression of self-confidence. People believe what they see so act like the superstar you are.
#4: Your network is rooting for you. Start working the phones. Set up breakfasts and dinners. Ask for introductions, suggestions, advice (but not money).
#5: Press your pants, shine your shoes, get a haircut. Your image is at stake, not your self-worth.