Two nutbars. Two train wrecks. Two Ronnies. One person.
By Tony Wilson
The two men most in the news during February and March convinced me that there is a cosmic “connectedness” between people on this planet, and that, in a strange way only Eastern Mystics, Dancing Wu Li Masters, and Landmark Forum Graduates could explain, there isn’t just one of us in the world but two of us; each living our lives in different places and speaking different languages, but more or less being the same person.
I am, of course speaking of Charlie Sheen and Muammar Gaddafi; the “Two Ronnies” of 2011. Look at them. Listen to them. They are the same person. Now I’m not saying Charlie is a mass murderer, a tyrant or a Kleptocrat, and he hasn’t bombed civilians or gunned down people in the streets, but when you flip the channels back and forth between Gaddafi and Charlie, you’ll see that each of them is babbling the same incoherent nonsense to the cameras (some of it of the anti-semitic variety), each thinks of himself as something more than mortal, and each of them wears very odd sunglasses at inappropriate times. When I see Charlie and Muammar, I see one man, not two of them (or for that matter, not Two and a Half of them either).
Just so you know that last paragraph wasn’t one long lead-up to a joke, I do have a point to make about client management. What do you do if you have a client like Charlie Sheen or Muammar Gaddafi? Uncontrollable. Erratic. Self Absorbed. Delusions of grandeur. Drugs, porn stars and ego may be involved in a slow moving train wreck that keeps your mortgage paid.
Admittedly, I’ve been on the other side of files against lawyers with the same egocentric personalities and delusions (minus the drugs and the propensity for mass violence), but I’m really talking about the clients here. On the one hand, you’re on that train, and that train is filled with gravy for lawyers, accountants, managers and all round fixers. But on the other hand, you can’t stop the train from going off the cliff because someone like Charlie or Gaddafi is driving it. So do you stay on the train as it careens off the bridge into the valley below to crash and burn? Or do you send a message by getting off the train early, and quitting the side-show? That’s what’s happening to both men’s entourages; they’re quitting in droves.
One of the problems with client management is the fact that we can’t control our clients, especially the ones that suffer from the condition I’ve called “Affluenza;” too much money for their own good. (You see the disease in affluent suburbs like West Van and Oak Bay where the kids of the überwealthy drive BMW’s to school).
Few of us have clients as wealthy as Charlie Sheen, a man who made $1.2 million per episode of Two and a Half Men. And few of us have clients that are as adept at getting press as Charlie seems to be these days. Every time he was hauled off to jail or rehab for threatening to kill someone, his show’s ratings went up. He’s said things like “I am on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen. If you try it once, you will die.” Or “Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body” (which I actually thought was a quote by Gaddafi). Or “I’m tired of pretending like I’m not a total freakin’ rock star from Mars.” As I write this, Sheen has discovered Twitter, and is in the Guinness Book of World Records for getting one million followers in 25 hours 17 minutes because everyone wants to see the train wreck. Like Muammar Gaddafi, more stupid incoherent ramblings are expected, although in Charlie’s case, they will be limited to 140 characters. However, I don’t expect the Two Ronnies of 2011 to be around this time next year. I expect two train wrecks.
People can be stupid in real life and real stupid when they have Affluenza. You can’t fix “stupid” when it’s mixed up with “stupidly rich.” When your clients have Affluenza, sometimes you just have to get off the train. Vancouver Franchise Lawyer Tony Wilson practices at Boughton Law Corporation in Vancouver, and has written for the Globe and Mail, Macleans Magazine and Canadian Lawyer. email@example.com | www.boughton.ca/people/lawyers/tony_wilson
This article was published in the April 2011 issue of BarTalk. © 2011 The Canadian Bar Association. All rights reserved.