Favorite qualities of people you disliked?

Layne Staley's picture
Rank: Almost Human | 7,201

I was inspired by @APAE"'s latest prompt to the Certified User base and thought I'd add my own. @TippyTop11", @Whiskey5", @Eddie Braverman", @BreakingOutOfPWM", @I'm done", @DickFuld", @Dances With Newfoundland", @idaho", and many others, this one's for you:

It's only been recently in my career that I've found myself able to see people in a professional setting outside of a binary scale. It used to be that over time, I would decide that people were either "good" and impressive and worth emulating and learning from, or "bad" and to be categorically avoided.

I think this is a terrible idea. All people, it turns out, are collections of traits and skills, some of which I personally will find positive and others I won't. Whether or not they are, on the balance, net one way or the other doesn't prevent them from having strong skills worth learning from. I effectively locked myself out of studying and evaluating positive, productive traits in people I didn't like, and for anyone trying to continually learn and better themselves, this is an unnecessary self-handicap.

I'll give an example: I had a partner once that I really did not see eye-to-eye with. He was not a "details" guy, and got uncomfortable with analysis because at its core he couldn't keep up. He didn't mind changing facts, and he didn't mind cutting a corner or skirting a boundary if he thought it might help. He put us in some tight spots with his approaches. I quickly added him to my "bad" bucket and tried to minimize my contact with him.

But looking back, I wish I could have gone with him to take clients to dinner more times. The guy was an absolute master storyteller, and could hold a room with sheer force of personality better than anyone I've ever met. Even if I didn't like how he went about all of his work, I could have learned a ton by paying better attention when he was doing the thing he did best.

So now, your turn: what was something you liked or admired about a person that, overall, you didn't care for?

Comments (19)

Mar 14, 2018

One of the worst people I've encountered in the industry was unbearably loud, unnecessarily bold, obnoxiously opinionated, and had zero hesitation speaking his mind in front of everyone

I see the shoe is now on the other foot...

Also thanks for tagging me Staley, real classy

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Mar 14, 2018

oopsies

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Mar 14, 2018

For me it's a list of things below:

  • They are vague with what scenarios or outcomes they want to see in an analysis or model. It's frustrating because no matter what I model they wanted to see something else.
  • Unorganized
  • Unaccountable for their actions
  • Late
  • Messy
  • Fail to start meetings on time or end on time, also have an agenda to run the meeting or don't invite me
  • Always trying to steal minutes of your time
  • -Blowhards or long winded in meetings saying things that are obvious or already known. Yes I know lean manufacturing is something to strive for in this industry on this deal we are evaluating
  • Use sentences of cliches. "net-net of that number" "let's take that offline" "Boil the ocean"
  • Don't have a plan for their life or career
  • Wear crocs with socks
  • Gossip at the office

It's funny you mention two categories of people: good and bad. I do the same, I associate with the high performers (good) and avoid the low performers (bad) when possible.

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Mar 14, 2018

...i don't think you read the question

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Mar 14, 2018

Ohhh, you threw me for a loop. My bad.

For me I wish I had the gift of gab - I despise having to work with these people, but for networking it would help me a lot.

Mar 14, 2018

I think realizing the idea that everyone has good and bad qualities is more important than the actual examples, as they typically aren't that interesting. That said here are some examples:

Con: Can be duplicitous when taking responsibility for mistakes or credit for accomplishments
Pro: Very knowledgeable of the industry and detail-oreinted

Con: Is really boring to shoot the shit with; talks about his kids and wife to people fresh out of college too much
Pro: Hard working and humble

Con: So slow at modeling you wonder what they're doing all day
Pro: Very willing to learn and a good team player

That said this doesn't really answer your question because I don't strongly dislike any of these people. The key idea is not thinking "fuck that guy", but thinking "fuck that guy, but damn he's good at XYZ".

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Mar 14, 2018

I think silicon valley had a pretty good variation of your last statement, "RIGGB" - Richard Is a Great Guy But...

Mar 14, 2018

Couldn't agree more.

In real estate development, for instance, almost everyone is there for a reason. They might be absolutely awful at one aspect of the job, but you don't get a position in a lean company unless you bring something to the table, even if that "something" is as nebulous as your "connections" i.e. your dad is in the industry and didn't want to hire you directly so he got one of his CEO buddies to hire you instead.

It's very easy to look at someone, roll your eyes, and say "yeah he might be good at running a job but he's a shit manager" or "yeah he can sell snow to a snowman but he doesn't understand operations at all" or "yeah he can model a deal in his sleep but he doesn't know shit about the actual finishes in a unit," especially in a competitive environment, It's more important, however, to look at what they actually excel at and try to learn from them, not on an overall level, but on their specific strengths.

It's also incredibly important to analyze yourself that way in an effort to improve on your own weaknesses. I'm honestly pretty bad at focusing on peoples' strengths and struggle with being a highly critical person. On one hand, being a highly critical person is a great skill to have when analyzing deals, or doing a punch walk, or reviewing marketing strategies, etc. It has helped me tremendously in life. However, if you ask some of my coworkers, while I doubt anyone hates me, I guarantee they describe me as a negative person, because I always see the negative and don't keep that shit to myself. I have to consciously avoid being a toxic person to be around and avoid coming off that way as much as possible and I admittedly haven't mastered it yet.

I'm also really good at being an "ideas guy" with zero regard to execution. Perhaps in a president or CEO, this isn't a terrible trait, but in a guy at the bottom to middle of the totem pole, it's pretty obnoxious. My job is literally to execute on ideas, not just brainstorm constantly. I've made it a point when I have some grand scheme to keep my mouth shut about it until I figure out how to make it work and have found much more success as a result.

Don't ever think of yourself as above reproach. When you're casually bitching about your coworkers that aren't in your happy hour crew, there's a solid chance they're casually bitching about you in theirs.

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Mar 14, 2018
CRE:

It's also incredibly important to analyze yourself that way in an effort to improve on your own weaknesses.

It's always good to try to improve your weaknessess. That being said, the further I've gotten into my career, the more i've realized that it's important to be in a role where your strengths are the most important to succeeding in your role and your weaknesses don't matter all that much. It's also easier to do this later in your career because you can hire people that have strengths where you don't. If you're in a role where your weaknesses are key to success, I would suggest changing roles.

Written words don't always come across as you'd hope, so my comment is meant to provide additional context to your comment....I don't disagree with what you wrote.

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Mar 15, 2018
DickFuld:

If you're in a role where your weaknesses are key to success, I would suggest changing roles.

1000% agree... I've learned this the hard way

Most people on this forum consider the role they want first and foremost, and alongside try to strengthen the qualities that the aforementioned role requires. I've realized that this strategy is completely backwards and bizarre. People's personalities (and hence their core innate strengths) don't really change

The far better approach is to first discover what your core innate strengths actually are, and then determine what role caters towards those strengths

PS... I've found that the Myers Briggs framework (and Jung's underlying theory which backs it) has been quite helpful in this regard

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Mar 15, 2018

@Going Concern" , there's an interesting conundrum along those lines however where your professional skillset and personality may be better suited for roles later in your career, but you can't get to those roles without finding a way to excel in your current role. You could be ideal for a high level role in your industry, and since a high level role is your goal, you aim for it, even though you may not be ideal for the daily tasks of an entry or mid level role in the same industry.

This post isn't autobiographical, but it could help explain some of the mismatch.

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Mar 15, 2018
CRE:

@Going Concern" , there's an interesting conundrum along those lines however where your professional skillset and personality may be better suited for roles later in your career, but you can't get to those roles without finding a way to excel in your current role. You could be ideal for a high level role in your industry, and since a high level role is your goal, you aim for it, even though you may not be ideal for the daily tasks of an entry or mid level role in the same industry.

This post isn't autobiographical, but it could help explain some of the mismatch.

Fair point. Let me clarify

I didn't mean to suggest that you should go for jobs that only cater to your strengths. That would likely be very prohibitive and maybe even impossible. Both people and jobs are complex and multifaceted. What I meant to say is that at any level, even small shifts in the right direction can make a huge difference

The whole point is to steer the ship in the right direction as much as possible, which can only come from self awareness. There will always be waves and storms

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Best Response
Mar 17, 2018

Really astute point by @DickFuld" / @Going Concern". @CRE" you're correct about that conundrum. One potential route is to simply find a way to inhabit that 'later-career' role earlier.

I came up with it just now, but I like the idea of 'rent-to-own' as an analogy.

Sure, you can't just decide to be a partner in a commercial real estate investment shop overnight, but you sure as shit can get 80%+ of the way there with some simple steps. Buy a domain name, get a decent website (could be a simple high-res photo with an transparency filter on it to make your logo more prominent), set up an email on your domain with Google, and go run a deal on the side just as if your shop had ten staff.

Go as far down the road as you can, and if your deal and your skill-set is good enough, you'll get a yes at each incremental step in the process that allows you to move on to the next. Asset identified? Model it. Debt commitment? Go get it so you can start pitching equity partners on a deal that's already baked. Sometimes you get your deal poached away by somebody who's got a full shop set up and moves on your asset (I don't have direct experience in real estate, but this happened to me more than once in buyouts). It sucks. Eventually it works though and you stop being a 'renter'.

Private equity guys do this all the time. This is how the fundless sponsor model became prominent. Enough guys scaled the size of the 'on the side' deals they were doing that either their employer kicked them out for competitive activity or failure to dedicate enough attention, or they realized the calf was fatter on the other side of the fence and they hopped.

If you go talk to enough self-made billionaires or at least read everything you can on a few dozen of them, you'll find that they all took that jump early. If your skill-set and personality type is rare enough to fit the really hard, big-scale stuff, why wouldn't you gravitate toward that as soon as possible?

The guys who did will admit how bumpy it was at the start, but smoothed across two or three decades, their economic position alone proves how dramatically better it works. Yes, you can fail, but if you do, you go right back into a 'hire me please' phase and get the job that pays your bills. And maybe you're tenacious enough to try it again.

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Mar 15, 2018

Definitely appreciate your post & perspective, @DickFuld"

Mar 14, 2018

Some people are dicks / mean to others, which I hate, but I admire the fact that they are straight to the point and there is no confusion as to how they feel.

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Mar 14, 2018

While at one of my jobs post-undergrad, there was an employee I learned a lot from for two reasons: his heart was in the right place to become a high-performing employee, but his approach was terrible.

He reminded me of Jake Gyllenhall in the movie Nightcrawler - a socially awkward guy who read a shit load of self help books or "7-habits of highly effective people" type stuff before he took the job. His intentions, which I learned a lot from, were as follows:

  • Keep your network up to date & consistently be getting face time with those that you hope to establish mutual-beneficial relationships with
  • Look for ways to create efficiencies with internal processes
  • Develop relationships internally with those on separate teams/functions

However, with each of these lessons, he also provided an additional lesson:

  • As a junior level employee, your job is to get physical work done and not to spend time networking with anyone who will take a lunch with you. Your first priority should be to get your actual job done first - then network on the side if you have time (again, this is at the junior level). There were often times he was late to something or we had to work around his schedule so he could have a two hour lunch or an early morning breakfast on the other side of town. Not the type of value-add our manager was looking for.
  • Don't annoy the shit out of everyone when trying to make the model template more dynamic. He would constantly be asking people for ways we thought would help improve the model, only to tell us he either already thought of that or it couldn't be done. Being the go-to guy for a new model or project management app the team is using can be extremely valuable. Just don't be a pain in the ass to gain adoption of it so it makes you look good.
  • This was the first time I realized the importance of having senior level people on other teams know you and like you. It is these people who often provide unsolicited feedback about you to the person that you report to. Good opinions here go a long way to helping your higher-up have a sanity check about you. The problem here with my example is he would go out of his way to own these relationships over other people. A director on anther team reached out to the both of us clearly asking us both to help on a new project. This guy went out of his way to tell me he could handle it solo, only to not relay that to the director. I followed up with the director to let him know that the other going to handle it solo (knowing that this guy was trying to force me out) and the director was more annoyed than I was because he specifically asked for the both of us to work on it - it didn't take long for him to catch onto what game the other guy was trying to play. It was a great example of someone overplaying their hand when it was totally unnecessary and leaving a bad impression on someone he would not have many more chances to make good ones with.

Keep in mind all of this was going on within his first year with the firm.....

Good lessons: from idea, to execution.

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Mar 17, 2018
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