Final Analysis: Power from the People

What constitutes a great company to work For? Don't ask the Mariners.

What makes a company a great one to work for?

It’s the people.

Sure, the free lunches and the Friday beer parties are nice. And who wouldn’t want unlimited vacation time and fully paid health insurance for the whole family?

Still, if you don’t have the right people, you’re toast.

Take the Seattle Mariners. Please.

For the past decade-plus, the Mariners have been shakier than the Jell-O salad at a Midwest potluck. Since their storybook 2001 season, which ended agonizingly short of a World Series appearance, they’ve made the postseason exactly no times. To put that into startlingly brutal perspective, every other team in Major League Baseball, with the exception of the Toronto Blue Jays, has been to the postseason at least once since 2001. That’s 28 other teams. It’s as if the Mariners (and the Blue Jays) are playing by different rules. Or with inferior equipment.

Or maybe the wrong people.

The Mariners came close last year — so close that the talk this spring was that they were a virtual lock to make the playoffs with the addition of one more big bat in the lineup.

But as this goes to press — at the one-third mark of the 2015 season — the Mariners are worse off this year than they were last year at this time, even with that big bat. They’re not out of it, certainly, but they’ll have to do even better than their .574 winning percentage during the final two months of last season, which left them one victory short of a playoff berth.

So how do they get there? 

Good question. If the Mariners were a widget manufacturer, one would be hard pressed to see them becoming the widget king anytime soon. Their “big bat,” Nelson Cruz, is like the highly paid marketing genius who’s been brought in to sell a product that’s not quite ready for prime time. Imagine Cruz, the new guy, sitting down with the CEO to look over the company roster.

“What’s this guy Ackley like?” Cruz asks.

“Dustin Ackley,” says the CEO. “Nice kid. We hired him right out of college about four years ago. Reassigned him from accounting to marketing to production. Transferred him to the Tacoma division for a while. Can’t seem to find his comfort zone.”

“I see. And Zunino?” Cruz asks.

“Mike Zunino,” says the CEO. “Nice kid. Great attitude. Works well with others, but he whiffs on finishing team projects about half the time.”

“Interesting. What about Miller?”

“Brad Miller. Nice kid. Hustles a lot, but not much to show for it. We’ve toyed with moving him around to other departments, too.”

“And this guy Canó?”

“Robinson Canó,” says the CEO. “Quality guy. Productive. But I’m concerned that he’s been slacking off a bit ever since you arrived.”

“Really? What about Hernández?”

“Félix Hernández,” says the CEO. “Great guy. We call him King Félix. He’s our best pitchman. Heart of a lion. Wish I had four more just like him.”

“The other pitchmen aren’t good?”

“Some are on disability. The others are kind of hit or miss.” 

“Well, it sounds like they’re all nice, quality, great people,” says Cruz. “But as a group, they’re not getting the job done. Your widgets are mediocre.”

“But with you on board now,” says the CEO, “we can expect to sell more product, right?

“You need more than a marketing genius,” Cruz replies. “You need people who can make better widgets.” 

John Levesque is the managing editor of Seattle Business magazine.

Final Analysis: Would You Go to Work for Donald Trump?

Final Analysis: Would You Go to Work for Donald Trump?

Or would you rather end up on his enemies list?

Imagine getting a call inviting you to work for your country.

Now imagine your new boss is Donald J. Trump.

Would you move to Washington, D.C., to work for the president of the United States? For this president of the United States?

From what we know through simple observation, Donald Trump suffers from chronic narcissism, he doesn’t read much, he rarely smiles, he has a vindictive streak, he treats women badly, he has the argumentative skills of a bruised tangerine, he fears foreigners almost as much as he fears the truth and he spends his waking hours attached to marionette strings being manipulated by Steve “I Shave on Alternate Thursdays” Bannon.

Sure, you’ve probably suffered under bad bosses. But this guy takes the plagiarized inauguration cake. He thinks it’s OK to assault women. He made fun of a journalist’s disability. He said a judge couldn’t be impartial because of his ethnic heritage. He doesn’t pay people who have done work for him. He has been a plaintiff in nearly 2,000 lawsuits.

We have to assume that Sally Yates, the acting attorney general who got herself fired in January for standing up to President Trump’s ban on accepting immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, has probably updated her résumé by now. No doubt she proudly included a mention that she torched the president whose approval rating after one week in office had dropped faster than it had for anchovy-swirl ice cream.

If I worked for Trump, it would most likely be a challenging assignment. I try to be gracious and diplomatic with supervisors and coworkers, but I draw the line with people who lie to me. Or lie to others and put me in an awkward position. With them, I’m not so gracious, and I don’t hold my tongue. Which would probably get me early induction into the Sally Yates Hall of Flame.

Or maybe on the president’s enemies list. None other than Trump’s reality-TV pal, Omarosa Manigault, has revealed that the president possesses a long memory — longer, even, than his neckties — and that his people are “keeping a list” of those who don’t like him.

I know I should give my president the benefit of the doubt, but I’m happy to make an exception in this case. I don’t like Donald Trump. And I would be honored to be on his enemies list. Not since I played pickup baseball in grade school have I had such an urge to scream, “Pick me! Pick me!” Being added to a Presidential Enemies List would be such a treat, a career topper, really. Better than submitting to a colonoscopy without anesthesia. Or watching reruns of Celebrity Apprentice. Without anesthesia.

If selected, I would pledge to save my best words for the president and I would only use them in the bigliest way.

Of course, making the enemies list means I might never get the call to join the new administration. I might never get to engage in locker-room banter with POTUS. I might never get to untangle the marionette strings. I might never get to buy razors for Steve Bannon.

It is a sobering realization. But we must serve where we are best suited.

John Levesque is the managing editor of Seattle Business magazine. Reach him at