My father used to say, “Be careful how you treat people on the way up, Neil, because you're going to meet a lot of them again, on the way down.” I think Martha Stewart (search) is discovering that.
Martha didn't treat people well. She was nasty, pushy, some even said bitchy. None of these qualities are bad in business. In fact, in some men, they're even admired. But in the karma of life, they can come back to haunt you in life.
Rude and nasty people don't make a lot of friends. Rude and nasty people like to be feared. Not befriended. Yet they're shocked when their own reputations hit the fan, that they've instilled neither fear nor friends.
Even good people love to wish bad people ill. Especially when they really don't like those bad people. Good people love to punish bad people. It's payback for all the nasty e-mails, the browbeating meetings, the condescending sneers and the public temper tantrums.
None of this is to say Martha Stewart's problems would be any less noteworthy had she been warmer or fuzzier or kinder. But I will guarantee you this, they wouldn't have been as bad.
Had she swallowed her pride early on and deigned a few meetings with investigators, rather than cavalierly dismiss those investigators. Had she appreciated even the "appearance" of impropriety, she would have bent over backwards to replace it with at least an "appearance" of remorse.
Here's what I think: Martha probably did nothing horrendously wrong, but she was horrendously arrogant. Dismissive not only of the charges against her, but here's the clincher, dismissive of the people making those charges.
It's amazing to me that a woman with gifted corporate skills, lost sight of even basic social skills. That's not to say a nicer person could have avoided this predicament. But a nicer person might have a better shot getting "out" of this predicament.
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