The Advanced Curriculum

Crazy People

There is a great video of Lily Tomlin and David O. Russell that I hope will be available on YouTube forever. See below:


In it, you will find a great display of uncontrolled craziness not unfamiliar to anybody who has worked with a decomposing boss. It begins with the obviously surly actress behind a desk on the set of I <3 Huckabees, quietly but acridly complaining about things to Mr. Russell, the director. She’s grumbling, needling him about all the inconsistencies and changes going on, a classic disgruntled employee. You can hear his voice off camera a bit, cajoling, arguing, wheedling. Then, all of a sudden, from the bottom of the frame here he comes, arms flailing, hair flying. He is screaming. He is cursing. He sweeps his arm across the desk behind which Ms. Tomlin is sitting and sends its contents flying. He smashes a few things and then rampages off the set entirely. You can hear him screaming up and down the hallways off camera in this childish, aggrieved tone of voice, shrieking, howling, and then bang, in he comes through the stage door of the set like a demented intruder, yelling his head off, throwing things, and cursing, cursing, cursing. It’s an appalling display of infantile rage comparable only to the Great Bill O’Reilly on-tape freakout of 2008, where Bill loses his wafer-thin temper and fusses like a little baby at his teleprompter operator. You can Google that, too. It’s priceless.

Mr. Russell has gone on to great success, winning many awards and universal acclaim for his talent. Mr. O’Reilly remains the highest paid and most-watched presence in cable news. The realm of business often rewards those who are by any sane measure, nuts.

This is because those who are bound to rigid solutions, are focused on themselves to the exclusion of others, and are irrational in pursuit of their goals, are likely to do very well in business. In other words, in the world we’re trying master, it’s very useful to be a certain kind of crazy. Most helpful in a business context are:

Toxic narcissism, which helps the crazy person feel invulnerable and destined for greatness

Obsession, which imparts focus

Compulsive behavior—a very good trait for accountants and other financial types

Paranoia, keeps a person on his or her toes

In addition to conferring power, however, craziness also comes with certain detriments. The narcissist is blind to the thoughts and feelings of other people, and tends to have a bad temper that clouds his or her brain under pressure. The obsessives are busy with their Purel when others are swinging a little looser. Paranoids are so fraidy-scared you can make them jump when you say Boo. In this way, all crazy people are not only empowered, but diminished in some way. Those who understand the nature of their craziness can manipulate, guide, and get over on them if they know how.

For further information on the lessons contained here, refer to The Curriculum: Everything You Need To Know To Be A Master of Business Arts.


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