Ahh, the No Asshole Rule

A few years ago, I reviewed a book, The No Asshole Rule, for The Philadelphia Lawyer, the Philadelphia Bar Association magazine. Written by Robert Sutton, a Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, the premise of the book is that no business should hire, tolerate or perpetuate the employment of “certified assholes,” people who are assholes all the time.

In my review, I wrote (regretfully “tongue in cheek”) that “We are simply blessed that there are no assholes in our legal community and certainly none who fit the moniker of a “certified asshole.” Consequently, Sutton’s premise – that businesses are more productive, more profitable and have a better “atmosphere” when they do not hire, do not retain, and do not promote “certified assholes” – becomes irrelevant. ”

Today, however, brought home just how far my tongue was in my cheek. I circulated my e-newsletter, and sure enough two people opted out (decided they didn’t want to receive the newsletter anymore). And guess what, when I thought of them, I thought of my book review. One is a solo lawyer who didn’t like the idea of paying for my services, so she fabricated stories. For example, she claimed I charged for every phone call when in fact not only didn’t I charge her for phone calls (not once), but I didn’t charge for many other times I assisted her – including once when she cornered me and obtained free training for half an hour at a trade show. The other lawyer hired me for training, I did two sessions and her response was totally positive. She said the sessions were great, never a complaint. Unfortunately, they never paid my bill, and are indignant over the fact that I turned them over to a collection agency. Gee, that I want to get paid is a shock. After all, they claim that they  have “The resources to take on even the largest companies.” It’s easy if you don’t pay your bills.

So, good riddens to each of those subscribers. I should have removed them myself.

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In closing, I must again plug The No Asshole Rule. It is a thoroughly enjoyable quick read that should be on every manager and worker’s mandatory reading list. Although it is unlikely we can ever completely eliminate these venomous vipers from our midst, The No Asshole Rule at least offers hope that more workplaces will adopt the rule and that certified assholes will become extinct. We can only hope.

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