Power Law #2


Be wary of friends – they will betray you more quickly for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.

Being the entrepreneurial minded person that I consider myself to be, I constantly look for niches or ideas that I can bring to light. As good fortune would have it I came upon such an idea one September night in 1997. At the time I was in the video booth with my man C. Mac (sidebar: check out his blog or previous work in the links section) at our former church, Abundant Life Fellowship. This particular fall evening we were working in the capacity as youth leaders for a back to school concert featuring Gospel Rap Artist’s, A1-Swift.

A1-Swift was a husband wife duo that really could put it down. They had a mainstream sound, but all their lyrics were about living big for Christ. The house was packed. They had the crowd rocking. I remember during one of their sets seeing all these kids rocking their hip hop gear and it occurred to me that although these kids professed a passionate love for Christ, they looked like every other kid immersed in hip hop culture with their Nautica, Tommy, and Fubu on from head to toe. I wanted to change that. I wanted to create a fly Christian clothing line that could rival all of the aforementioned lines.

With money tight I set out to create the line with limited resources. I’m pretty creative, having discovered my ability to draw at age eight, so I began creating logos for caps and baseball jerseys. Caps have always been popular and everybody was wearing sportswear with the ascent of FuBu. So, I was on my way.

Once I had some samples, I began sharing them with some close friends and a few people who were mostly associates (some I didn't really trust, but they were friends of a friend). The response I received was mixed. The friends loved them, while the associates were like, “Meh, they’re okay.”

Long story short after a lot of time and money, the line never really took off. A few years ago I saw an opportunity to pull it off the back burner and it was at that moment that I had the wool pulled from over my eyes. Someone very close to me who previously applauded my efforts, confessed that they didn’t really like the previous designs, that if I was going to go after it again that I should look to do something more cutting edge. I said, “Now you tell me! I could have saved a lot of time and effort had you just been honest." They didn't want to hurt my feelings was their response. Give me a break, was mine. I also realized that I should have listened to the guys who I thought were just practicing hate. Winning over my "enemies" would have proven profitable. But you live and you learn.

This is a mild example of the principle, but I’m sure you can come up with some spicier scenarios where someone close to you caught you from the blind side. If so, and you care to share, by all means do so.

About the host:
Rich Fitzgerald is the author of the short story "One to Remember" featured in Love and Redemption (Bloggers' Delight Vol. 1), a collection of short stories by authors who blog. To read excerpts or to order a copy of the title, visit i-Lit. The book is also available on Amazon.


Rich said...

An EXCELLENT example of this rule is the situation with Hillary Clinton wanting to be VP. I have long said that I would never make her my VP if I were Barack. Doingso would be like wearing a bullseye on your back. Although Hillary professes friendship, I wouldn't in no way be surprised if she as VP would have Barack knocked off so she could rise to the coveted spot of El Presidente'.

Darius T. Williams said...

Abundant rahway? I used to be a youth pastor at a parachurch ministry in jersey city. I still work closely with youth but moreso doing conferences, teaching, and training. Yea man, that idea seemed to be a decent idea but I could have told u that it wouldn't have worked. Teens have this inate longing for acceptance and affirmation. They associate with modern urban culture and subconsciously feel affirmed by their outer appearance...especially when its the same appearance mirrored by modern pop culture. I get ur point and idea, but it boils down to supply and demand. Pop culture doesn't demand it so you were basically asking for failure by supplying it.

So, I don't really have people in my corner telling me things that I didn't listen to because I rarely share my ideas. I have two people who know me rather intimately and we typically talk things through together.

sista gp said...

If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.
I am not into DRAMA and I associate well with almost everyone. So how does one identify or even make ENEMIES?

Rich said...

I guess the point is that if everyone around is "friendly" expect to receive some "friendly fire" along the way. That can catch you off guard and dappen your spirits quite a bit. If you know someone who isn't totally down for you but you still need to work with them, then at least you know up front what the deal is and will watch your back accordingly.

I'm sure there are people you work with who you don't trust, but you get the job done because you have to. If there comes a situation where you can make each other look good, you put the differences aside.

The examples in the book lending itself more to those in power like Rulers, Presidents, and the sort. That's why I made the Hillary reference.

Lance said...

as you know by now, you have to be shrewd & ruthless in business. this is about money. plain & simple. many will claim to "see" "your" vision but they really don't.

the best way to do anything is to do it yourself. and once you've achieved a little something, something others will either believe and want to jump on board....or....diss it to shame, the haters... (;-P

by the way, i still ain't seen no hip-hop fashion wear with a Christian theme. as long as you're breathing, there's still time. and now with the internet, as a global marketing tool, the world is yours to conquer.

so, what'cha gon' do dawg?

Anonymous said...

Rich - first off your designs were tight to me - and especially for the time and living in St. Louis which is NOT the fashion capitol of the world - I thought you did great work. I think it was an issue of resources and I know you still didn't do it like you wanted to. It was a great effort and as Lance said still can be done if its your desire. I have always admired your willingness to step out - and the haters will be there regardless! Man only share your visions with your inner crew - they will pump you up accordingly and give you trust worthy feedback - let the rest catch up. Then with like-minded individuals who are making waves and doing their thing you can get advice on how to do a thing. Perhaps your friends like me can't tell you how to do that.

** and Hillary - man she showed her ass last night. I will post something on Friday why Barack should not pick her to be a VP... giving enemies a chance to prove themsevles not withstanding.

Rich said...

I didn't intend for this post to be about the clothing line, but oh well.

@Darius - good point, and I considered that but Gospel music was at a high point in the late 90's. I was actually looking to get Kirk Franklin to be the face of the line, but he was trying to come out with his own line, but it never came to fruition. Also, Tonex was affiliated with a line some years following my idea, but he didn't have the commercial name that would sell, so it didn't really take off either.

@lance - yeah, there is always time and I have a trademark on the name so we'll see. I think I would much rather focus on writing, but one can never say never. Since I used to draw when that still would provide me with a creative outlet.

@cmac - I believe people were sincere, but sometimes people are just excited about the possibility of an idea and they don't really look at the real marketability of a thing. I probably needed to be in a different market like NY to really get a feel for it, but it was a great learning experience.

A New Man said...

I believe people were sincere, but sometimes people are just excited about the possibility of an idea and they don't really look at the real marketability of a thing.

This post--and that quote--hit straight to the stadium lights for me. I have to thank my friends for keeping me grounded and for helping me to keep my tired, meager pennies in my pockets for other ventures in the past. Ego can make us push for business ideas that truly SUCK--and we know they suck--and can test the limits of the true friendships we have. I agree that my true circle are the truth-talkers; naysayers are a dime a dozen, but the friends who swallow their sympathies and tell me the straight-no-chaser truth mean the most to me. I don't trust enemy opinion, but I don't throw away wisdom from any practical source. A man has to know where the defining line between confidence and ego-driven self-deception is drawn, and my friends provide that for me.

On a side note, SoCal artists have been pushing boutique lines with Christian themes for years and doing well. Some are focused toward skaters, surfers, b-boys, and graf artists. I think your idea would have worked well in a different market. Market--my ugliest lesson of 2008...

The True Urban Queen aka Sharon said...

I have one friend, sister, and brother who I run my ideas by. I know they will be truthfully honest about how they feel even if it hurts my feelings.
That is one thousand times better then a dozen friends who would just allow me to proceed with a weak plan because they don't to hurt my feelings. Hirt my feelings not my pockets.

I think some people can't handle the truth so their friends would rather lie then listen to them attack back.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

u know the book is more about deciption than power it seems to me, i dont have to use such to be powerful, but then again i got brain cells and gats on my side

Rich said...

@ all-mi-t you are right in some respects, it goes into great detail how people use deception to get at the power they are seeking. That power comes in many forms.

@Ced - yeah, the STL is not high on the list of Progressive Cities, but I still try and make it do what it do. If I can make it here, the rest of the cities are a synch.

Lovebabz said...

Hmmm very interesting Fitzgerald. I do not agree and I will tell you and you beautiful wife over a perfectly chilled bottle of pinot noir in some city of your choice.

I am however digging your series.

shelia said...

Rich, you should go for it. Why can't you do both? I'm just saying :)

CapCity said...

I'm learning as much as i CAN from where EVER i can. even if i don't agree with someone or someTHING i observe, absorb and self-analyze.

I learned a great deal from these places of employment here in NYC. I didn't think teaching was a really competitive field - cuz, it's not like i'm in finance or biz - but here EVERY field is competitive! So, I'm soaking it all in & talkin' to my Lawd...

Verbal Vixen (T Caldwell) said...

"Be wary of friends – they will betray you more quickly for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies"

The irony of this to me is that I take away a slightly different lesson than was intended. If your "friends" can be easily aroused to envy and your enemies can be more loyal than a friend, HOW DOES ONE IDENTIFY FRIENDS FROM ENEMIES?

And indeed, it does get harder and harder in this day and time to tell who are your true friends and who you should watch out for.

"If you have no enemies, find a way to make them."

That is the only part I do not agree with. I do not intentionally need enemies to feel powerful. Maybe I need to read the book to understand more fully.

Tony OH said...

The devil is a Lie Rich! This is how to be a Gangsta! this ain't for the Godly
You can learn this ish from the Ghettos... you don't need this fool for

Can someone say, ""