Conan O’Brien in his debut as the host of The Tonight Show.
AP Photo/Paul Drinkwater/NBC
Conan O’Brien announced today that he will not host The Tonight Show if NBC pushes his show’s time slot back to accommodate a 30 minute Jay Leno Show. In a very eloquent statement released this afternoon, Conan notified the “People of Earth” of his stance.
In this statement, Conan showed why he is the true Corporate American Idol. Unlike most employees in Corporate America, Conan has self-respect. Dignity is clearly lacking among many employees in Corporate America. In today’s difficult economy, employees fear layoffs and unemployment more than they do the degradation of their own self worth. Horrible employers are well aware of this fear, and take advantage of those who will bend over backward to keep their job (oddly enough, they’re usually the first to be laid off despite their efforts). These fearful employees could learn something from Conan.
Conan’s statement accomplished five things that employees need to do when faced with ridiculous ultimatums given by horrible employers:
1. Don’t give ground
If your dysfunctional employer (like NBC) asks you to take a pay cut, take a couple weeks of unpaid time off (some, like myself, would consider this a benefit), or makes any demand you are uncomfortable with, don’t just simply take one for the team in the hopes that one day it will pay off. You are setting a precedent, and your employer will take advantage of you whenever the opportunity presents itself. Don’t become a puppet (unless it’s a Crank Yankers puppet).
2. Force your employer to make the difficult decision
Conan may very well end up leaving NBC. But, before leaving, he’s forcing his employer to make the difficult decision. He’s made it very clear as to what will occur if they ultimately make the decision to move his time slot. If your employer makes ridiculous demands, go “all in”. Force your employer to fold or take all of your chips. Remember, there’s always a FOX waiting for you (WARNING: This only applies to employees who have a skill, which rules out 95% of you).
3. Belittle your employer’s request
Conan was very clear in his statement on why NBC’s potential decision to move his time slot is ridiculous. Like Conan, do not merely state your position. Make sure to spotlight just how ridiculous their request is, and when possible, do it publicly. This brings a significant amount of negative attention to your employer. The negative attention pressures them into making what may be a very unpopular decision if they choose to move forward with their original request. Making horrible employers uncomfortable should be the goal of all self-respecting employees.
4. Bring attention to coworkers who may end up becoming innocent victims
Conan’s statement included his unwillingness to force a late-night schedule mixup that ultimately pushes Jimmy Fallon out of a time slot that he earned and deserves. When informing your employer of your own stance, be sure to point out the countless innocent victims that will be affected. You’re unwillingness to budge is no longer a selfish decision. You’re now a team player.
5. Don’t threaten your employer by showing you already have an exit strategy
Conan’s statement makes it clear that he hasn’t pursued any other options and he truly has no idea what comes next if he is ultimately forced to leave NBC. While this may be a complete lie, it’s an important last step in your rebuttal. Informing your employer of your exit strategy is bad practice. It may tip your employer over the edge and they’ll continue to move forward with their decision when they may have otherwise been willing to come to a compromise or drop the request altogether. This step is also wise with wives who make ridiculous requests — never inform them of your exit strategy.
Bonus: Maintain your sense of humor.
If you don’t have a sense of humor, it’s likely that you’ll never have any self-respect. No one can help you.
Using these steps above may still result in temporary unemployment, but at least you’ll respect yourself when you look in the mirror. Your lack of income may require the mirror to be purchased at Tuesday Morning, but hey, it’s still a mirror.
** NOTE: Self-respect is not the product of being a multi-millionaire, though it certainly helps.
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