Two Partners

The technical firm I am writing about had two partners who were friends in college and built a business together. Yet, they were as different as day and night. 

One was an adroit manipulator and loved power. It was evident that he played at listening and agreeing, but he had his own agenda, which had nothing to do with growing and nurturing others. The other partner was an athlete, close to world-class but not there. Amongst other problems, both at home and at work with his partner, he thought himself worthy of being world-class but could not reach that level.

A genius engineer I often worked with had the talent to improve organizational efficiency. Where I worked with relationships and interpersonal communications, he worked with a firm’s organization. We were a team that, if given the freedom and receptivity of management, mountains could have been built out of molehills. 

The efficiency expert was restructuring the whole firm in the face of the one leader who hid his love of power as best he could and was an expert at duplicitous behavior. It soon became apparent that the “soft” athletic partner did not possess the tools to deal with his frustration at not being recognized for his athleticism, his inability to take a stronger leadership stance, and his disintegrating family life. It was all crashing down on him. 

I remember him as the one who was open to growth, communication, and the growth of his firm. But his family life was being undermined, as was work, and his frustration at not being recognized as the athlete he imagined himself to be was all coming down on him. He eventually crashed, burned, and one day he disappeared. Evidently, he saw no other way out.  

My favorite engineer and I did our best to save a very sick firm. Still, without leadership committed to their people, growth, honesty, and genuine dialogue, our efforts were the equivalent of “spitting in the wind.” It was a difficult lesson, and the reason that from then on, I made sure that the leader who sought to hire me to work with their firm understood that they had to participate as my student, or I would not work for them regardless of the fee.

The other lesson was that “power” rules. Power creates the environment and maintains it as long as those in power desire this for themselves. It is also one of power’s most important gifts to those under their influence to use it to empower others. The choice, as I learned, can only be made by those in power.  

I rule, you follow—You allow me to control—Only you control


Author: Sy Ogulnick

Sy Ogulnick received a BA from UCLA, Teacher’s Credential from Los Angeles Board of Education and completed phase I (Master’s portion) in a Doctor of Behavioral Science program at California Coast University. Sy leased and operated a summer day camp in LA. He and his wife then purchased virgin wilderness land in Northern CA, where they built and operated a coed summer camp. They moved to Las Vegas, NV, and purchased, built and operated a community children’s program for families staying in a major resort casino in Las Vegas. They have created programs for children nationwide that employed many people and in the process developed successful training programs for personnel. This led Sy to lecture on how to train staff and the creating of community within the workplace. Sy was then invited to speak at professional conferences on how best to hire and train employees, which led to his becoming a consultant in the art of improving relationships in a work environment and eventually to his epiphany that “Leaders are the primary problem and the answer to the personnel issues that arise in the workplace.” Sy has written numerous papers on the subject of interpersonal relationships, leadership and power. He has lectured throughout the United States, has been interviewed by the media and has appeared on many radio and TV talk shows

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