Categorized | happenings, the roundup

Number 10: The first rule of Fight Club is . . .

David Miscavige, head of the Church of Scientology

At the Church of Scientology, every disciplinary write-up is proceeded by a knock-down.

. . . you do not talk about fight club.

The Shoestring Venture first anniversary retrospective of Top Ten Bizarre Business Stories of 2009 begins, appropriately enough, with a manager that makes your boss look wonderful. Really. Tell me about the worst boss you’ve ever had and David Miscavige makes that boss look like Mother Theresa.

As first reported in the St. Petersburg Times in August, David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology — one of the most successful religion businesses in the world — motivates his top management in startlingly physical ways:

Another time, a meeting of Hawkins’ [the Church of Scientology director of marketing] marketing team, Miscavige turned angry. “He gets pissed off at me for whatever reason. I was usually the punching bag. And he wails on me and knocks me to the ground.”. . .

Before leaving, Miscavige turned to Hawkins. “He says to me, ‘Do you know why I beat you up?’ ”

“I say, ‘No, sir.’ ”

“He says, ‘To show you who’s in charge.’ ”

More than one top manager has testified to Miscavige leaping over the conference table at a meeting and bashing on some hapless executive. Miscavige, in fact, so relies on his fists to motivate top management that his executive assistant carries around Bactine and bandaids as, you might say, part of the task of cleaning up after meetings.

And just in case a few well-landed blows to the head doesn’t straighten you out, Sea Org, the management headquarters of the Church of Scientology, has an outdoor track designed to punish underperforming or rebellious managers:

As a form of punishment, Sea Org members had to run around a circular dirt track with a pole at the center for hours on end in the desert heat. “You would be on it anywhere from eight to 12 hours a day. . . “

So next time you think your boss is giving you the runaround or you’re just feeling sick of the rat race, remember the track from hell at Scientology management headquarters.

Now, under normal circumstances, the Great Outdoor Fight being played out on executive management at a billion-dollar-a-year company would probably qualify for the number one most bizarre business story of 2009, but this is, afer all, the Church of Scientology and the fact that it has executive management is bizarre enough.

As you have probably surmised already, the Church of Scientology is aggressively suing all the executives who have opened their mouths on this one. Not to speak of the death threats that have been raining down on them since the fall. They did not, of course, follow the SECOND rule of Fight Club:

The second rule of Fight Club is . . . YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB!”

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