Friday, December 16, 2005

Final "Apprentice" Episode Thoughts

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Is this career—being a Caddie Master—really a plausible selection for me? Is there something else I should be doing with myself? Do I have the ability to manage people? Could I ever handle the business-world? Important questions, and unfortunately, I haven’t really had the time lately to discover any answers.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, but the final episode of this season’s “The Apprentice” was on TV. Now I’ve never been a huge fan of the show. And in thinking about it, I can’t really remember why. I think it was because I haven’t really had a lot of access to a television until this winter. My schedule was just too ERRATIC. Well, whatever the reason, I haven’t really watched the show before. But thanks to TiVo and a roommate who won’t stop sitting on the couch, I’ve been watching a fair amount of this season’s episodes.

As you’ve probably gleaned from some of my previous posts, my personality and management style are quite different from that of the current Caddie Masters’. He has more experience, demands respect immediately, utilizes a passive-aggressive argumentative approach and can be wishy-washy when it comes to determining just exactly where he stands on a particular managerial decision. I, on the other hand, have little to NO experience as a Caddie Master, would rather be friends with my co-workers than their boss, my confrontations are done face to face, and I like to stick by my convictions and let everyone know exactly where I stand (This site may come off as a little passive-aggressive sometimes, but I do really let people know right away how I feel about something. My heart is on my sleeve. I can’t help it).

Tonight’s episode of “The Apprentice” happened to highlight the final tasks of the final two candidates for Mr. Trump to base his hiring decision off of. One of the candidates had more experience and a better statistical track record in the competition, but showed some major character flaws and proved by the end of the show that he really didn’t care about anyone but himself and his own success. The other was young, inexperienced, and held a mere 1-2 track record throughout the competition, but displayed a high level of loyalty and respect towards her competitors. As the Caddie Master and I looked at the screen, watching these final two candidates support their decisions in front of Trump himself, I couldn’t help but realize the amazing parallel of the whole situation. It was like each of our personalities and managerial styles were manifested in these final two candidates. It was at this moment when we started to argue. He fired first.

“So who do you think Trump should hire?”

“I think the girl.”

“Why? The guy’s got much more experience and education backing him. He’s also started his own company and made millions on his own. It’s no contest.”

“She started a non-profit at the age of 15 and raised almost a million dollars. She has strong beliefs in the work she’s doing and the people around her. Plus, look at what he’s doing. He’s making a personal attack on her abilities as a manager.”

“He’s trying to get the job! That’s how you succeed in business! You have to fuck over your friends if they aren’t getting the job done. You know Trump would.”

It was really depressing to watch. For those of you who didn’t see it or didn’t get to watch the whole thing, here was the part that bothered me: After the final task was completed by each candidate, they relaxed together in the suite and had a leisurely breakfast the following morning. They did nothing but talk about their experiences in the competition and give words of encouragement and praise to one another. “I have so much respect for you, yada yada.” But as soon as they both get in the boardroom, the male starts viciously attacking everything the female has done and desperately tries to prove to Trump why it would be stupid to hire her into the organization. There’s a pause, and Trump looks over at the girl. He asks, “Do you respect him?”

“Very much, yes.”

I couldn’t believe she said that. Here this guy won’t stop being a dickhead and she’s simply keeping her cool and being the adult. In my head, I just kept saying to myself, “If the guy gets this job, I do not belong in the business world. If THAT is what it takes to be successful out there, it’s not for me.”

The guy just came off as a backstabber to me. He was very nice and professional on the job, but once it came down to his own success, he was lashing out at whatever he could get his hands on to try and land the job. Trump even had to cut him off at one point. All I could do was admire the girl for keeping her cool. And wouldn’t you know it, Trump ended up hiring the guy. But before the show ended, he asked the winner one final question: “Would you hire her as well?”

The two candidates had chosen different projects. They would not be competing anymore. They could both come out winners.

Without hesitation, the male replied: “This show is called ‘The Apprentice.’ One. Not ‘The ApprenticeS.’ There should be only one winner.”

And that was it. He would be the only one hired. Everyone booed. She could’ve easily gotten the job as well, but her opponent’s ego had gotten in the way.

The TV turned off and the Caddie Master turned around to face me.

“So you want to go out tonight?”

“No thanks.”

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Methods to Madness

I think out of all the things I've learned as a Caddie Master, there is one that disappoints me the most: caddies bitch and moan about everything. Now I'm sure in other occupations you have colleagues who spend a good part of their day complaining about something or other. But I think caddies are the worst. And I think the reason is simple: they are never gauranteed money. The best analogy I can come up with is a scene from the movie "Cinderella Man." Crowe's character is trying to make some money working down by the docks, and he has to fight to get close enough to the fence to get picked for work. It's every man for himself. The life of a caddie is very similar. So as a Caddie Master, part of your job is to juggle the loops available for the day in one hand and juggle the caddies' names in the other. If you're able to keep 70% of the caddies happy by the end of the day, you're doing a decent job.

The reason it is so hard to keep everyone happy is because there are so many acceptable theories about how to assign work, and every caddie prefers a different method.

One way is the "first come, first serve" method. Well, of course it sounds good on paper. The hungriest, hardest working guys get out FIRST while the lazy bums fight over the scraps. But oh wait. You forgot to take into consideration one immutable truth: 90% of the caddies ARE lazy bums. So what ends up happening is you have 3 or 4 guys who show up at 6:00-6:30 every morning with the rest getting in around 8-10. Those first 3 or 4 guys get out every day while the lazy caddies sit around, sometimes all day long, leaving the course at the end of the day with no money to show for it. Apparently this system isn't fair. Most of the caddies say that we need to "spread the wealth."

Another method is to look over the caddie sheets and see who has been working and who hasn't. Then you simply prioritize the guys who HAVEN'T worked and try to get them out first. Occasionally this method will work, but for the most part, it only benefits the uber crack-addict caddies who sit around for an hour and then decide to leave because nothing is happening. And of course, right after they leave four or five foursomes show up, all requesting caddies, and as a Caddie Master you're forced to crap your pants and throw on a bib yourself to pick up the slack. But as long as everyone is working hard, this method does work under slow working conditions (nobody is showing up to play).

Another method is to combine the two. This is the approach I use. I work with the requests first, pairing up the players with whoever they want, and then I go on a first come, first serve basis. Occasionally I'll immediately put a caddie out on the grass who hasn't worked in a while, but that is only under special circumstances. I figure this way, caddies will WANT to do a great job, because if they do, they'll be requested and not have to show up at the ass-crack every morning just HOPING for work. They'll know who they have and when they're supposed to arrive. Simple.

But like I said, despite my best efforts, people still complain. And it's almost always about money. Well, I shouldn't say that. It's also about childish stuff: "Hey Tom, Billy didn't tend the flag enough today! He was a lazy bastard and had me running for the pins! ALL DAY TOM!"

Or, "Hey Tom, remember how you yelled at me for riding on the back of the carts when I should've been running and getting players' their yardages BEFORE they got to the ball? Well Johnny was riding on the carts all day long! Yeah! All day! And if you go out there now he'll STILL be riding. You need to yell at him like you yelled at me or else I'll crap my pants and throw myself to the red ants! That's right! The ANTS that are RED!"

You know, kids stuff. This is my first real attempt at managing people, and I have to say, trying to find that balance between keeping people happy and establishing a certain level of authority is tough. It's really hard to be loved and feared at the same time.

But enough about that. I need to get on Mapquest and try to find a library or something nearby so I can post a little more frequently. Surely Floridians read. They need to distract themselves SOMEHOW from the smell of garbage and old people. I mean how much methane does a state really need to have? How can anyone feel safe SMOKING around here?