Book Review: Sharkbiter – The Secret to Success

I made a video based on this story. You can watch it at Make ’ em Squirm: The Sharkbiter Way


His new book Make Them Squirm: the Business Secrets of Orville Sharkbiter, carries on in the tradition of his earlier books How I Got Really Really Rich and It’s All About Me. Sharkbiter uses the story of his life to show how people can follow in his footsteps.

Youth

Sharkbiter started to make money early in his life. In elementary school, he protected his fellow student from bullies. In return, they gave him their lunch money to show their appreciation. This was an important lesson that he never forgot.

While he was still a young man, Sharkbiter’s family suffered a series of tragic accidents.

Sharkbiter’s father died in a hunting accident when a gun went off unexpectedly. Although his wounds were minor, they became infected and he died. Sharkbiter says he is saddened by the thought that if it had not taken him a week to walk the 2 kilometres to the nearest town, his father would have survived.

His mother died when she dropped a knife and as she attempted to catch it, she stabbed herself 27 times. She then crawled into the garden and buried herself in a shallow grave. Sharkbiter told police that he had offered to help her, but she told him she could do it herself, so he went back into the house and finished his dinner.

Saddened by these losses, Orville plunged into his business career, relying on his wits and the $150 million he inherited from his family.

Ponzi, Bunco, and Cheater

Sharkbiter first gained notoriety as CEO of Ponzi, Bunco, and Cheater. He uses the story of his experiences with the company to debunk the myth that managers need to know their business. He points out that during his time at the company, he never found out what the company did and that didn’t affect his ability to succeed.

In his first year, he was able to deliver a $1 billion increase in profits. That was despite a 97 per cent drop in sales. He credits his success to the difficult decisions he made. He laid off nearly 90 per cent of the staff and sold most of the companies physical assets. His contributions in his first year earned him an $800 million bonus. When he took early retirement from the company a month later, he received a $200 million golden parachute.

Sharkbiter devotes an entire chapter of his book to a critique of Stanislaw Ouimp, who replaced him at Ponzi, Bunco, and Cheater. Some might say that it is just sour grapes on his part, but Sharkbiter is right when he says that Ouimp “run the company into the ground”. Less than three months after Sharkbiter’s departure, the company went into bankruptcy.

He points to Ouimp’s foolish decision to rehire staff to complete delivery of orders as the straw that broke the camel’s back. Why, he asks, was there any need to deliver the goods? After all, the company already had the money. If the customers weren’t happy, that was their problem.

Academic Career

Sharkbiter decided to spend some time away from the business world. He took a position as a senior fellow of the Micromanagement Institute. Here he taught micromanagement skills to executives from all over the world.

Although he enjoyed his time with the institute, Sharkbiter left after two years. He sounds uncharacteristically bitter in his criticism of the Institute’s leadership. After a yearlong conflict over the colour of the pens to use on the white boards, he decided it was time to move on.

Contributions to Society

His career was not the only way that Sharkbiter contributed to society. He devotes a whole chapter to his involvement with Psychopaths for Equality, Respect, and Vengeance (PERV). As lead spokesperson, he highlighted the contributions that psychopaths brought to society.

He speaks fondly of his time with the organization. He was quite sad when the organization had to shut down after someone embezzled all its money. As the organization’s treasurer and sole signing authority, he says he wished he had had more power to prevent the embezzlement.

He talks about how relieved he felt when authorities charged and convicted a part time cleaner for the theft. In response to the controversy that arose, he questions the motivations of his critics. He makes the case that it is perfectly possible for someone who had only worked for the organization for one day ten years earlier to have done the crime.

Political Career

Sharkbiter was very disappointed at the failure of his political career. He blames his loss on an unholy alliance of special interests. A small group of rich people, poor people, left-wingers, right-wingers, labour groups, corporations, tree huggers, and polluters that made up a mere 95 per cent of the electorate stymied his election chances. He saves his fiercest criticism for his opponent, who he accuses of mudslinging by questioning his business dealings.

Sharkbiter feels that he would have completely changed government finance if he had won. One of his favourite proposals was to save money on elections by selling elected offices to the highest bidders in an auction. He saw this as a win-win solution, since people would not need to vote and politicians would not need to worry about re-election.

Advice

Sharkbiter ends his book with a chapter of advice for people who want to be rich. Here is a brief selection of some of his words of wisdom.

  • If you lie enough, people will forget what is true.
  • Random abuse and praise is the key to employee motivation.
  • When you say, “don’t do it again or you’re fired”, be vague about what “it” means.
  • Have your employees fail most of the time to justify your own salary and bonuses.

Through out his book, Sharkbiter demonstrates what made him the leader he is. After I read the book, it is not difficult to be impressed, but I wouldn’t want to work for him.

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