There’s nothing quite like sitting back with your best girlfriends and plotting a diabolical strategy for revenge. I do have to say that as I get older, it does still taste as sweet. But it’s always important to stick with the all important rule of thumb: “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” I know what you’re thinking, ‘The best revenge is to simply move on.’ But who can argue with Shakespeare, “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?”
Revenge can be tricky. If you truly want to exact revenge for a wrong, you need to do it when the anger and emotion has worn off. I’ve put together a few of my favorite examples to give you some good ideas, just in case you also have the same resolution.
Lee Iaccoca gets fired then creates one of the most profitable products of the decade (that his former boss turner down!).
Lee Iaccoca has faded from view, but in the 1980s he brought excitement to an otherwise bland American automobile market. For those who are currently working their fingers to the bone and feeling under appreciated, think of Iaccoca as your patron saint. He joined the Ford Motor Company in 1946 after graduating from Lehigh University with a degree in Industrial Engineering. He quickly understood the path to the presidency and asked for a transfer to sales and marketing. He would put in more than a decade before making a name for himself with the “’56 campaign.” Imagine putting 20 percent down on a brand new 1956 Ford, and paying $56 a month for three years. It was a hit. He moved his family to Dearborn, Michigan and on December 10, 1970, he was named President of the Ford Motor Company.
His engineering background was important as he influenced the designs of the Ford Mustang, the Lincoln Continental Mark III, the Ford Escort, the Mercury Cougar and Mercury Marquis. In 1978, under Iaccoca’s leadership, the company had posted a $2 billion profit that year according to Wikipedia. That was the same year that Henry Ford II fired him because, “Sometimes you just don’t like somebody.”
Chrysler snatches Iaccoca up after Ford let’s him go; they’re losing millions and laying off workers. Iaccoca brings the “Mini-Max,” in 1983, basically a re-engineered version of the Toyota minivan which Ford refused to build. He also hired Hal Sperlich, Ford’s former product planner that had been fired several weeks prior to Iaccoca. The two would make history launching new product lines, getting the U.S. Government to guarantee a loan and introducing “K-cars” gave him some very sweet revenge. Iaccoca’s influence soared in direct proportion to Henry Ford II’s plummeting public persona.
If you want to learn more, here’s a 1994 story from CNN Money’s archives: IACOCCA’S MINIVAN How Chrysler succeeded in creating one of the most profitable products of the decade.
Ted Never Saw the Knife
In Atlanta, AOL is still a four letter word. And, for those of us who still pretend that Ted is a personal friend, we haven’t gotten over Jerry Levin stabbing him in the back after the AOL Time Warner merger. Ted got his revenge early on when he was asked to speak at industry events like the Western Show in Anaheim in 2001, written about by major newspapers around the country like the NY Post:
“I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would actually lose my job, but it happened,” Turner told a luncheon yesterday at the broadcasting industry’s Western Show in Anaheim, Calif. The speech was first reported by Cable & Broadcasting Magazine’s Web site.
“My advice to younger people in the room is be real careful who you sell your company to,” Turner said.
Turner said that Levin ruined Turner’s career and that Levin now owns “all I care about” except for his Buffalo ranches out West and his children.
Turner recalled one exchange he had with Levin. He said that Levin came up to him and said, ” ‘Ted, you’re my best friend.’ I said, ‘I’m your best friend? Jerry, I’ve never been in your home. If I’m your best friend, who’s your second-best friend?’ “
A year later in 2002 after he gave this talk, Levin would lose his job as CEO, replaced by Richard Parsons. That 2002 AOL Time Warner annual meeting was just the beginning of Turner’s revenge, or more likely Karma. Levin had stepped on others on his way to the top and each and every one had a front row seat for the passing of the torch, as it were, but that “torch” was symbolically setting Levin’s career on fire. CNBC would later name Levin one of the Worst CEOs of All Time.
Susanna Salter and the Bad Bet
One of my favorite stories of revenge happened 126 years ago in Argonia, Kansas. It was a simple city election for the mayor and councilmen. At the time, many women were heavily involved in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and, in several areas of the Midwest like Argonia, women were allowed to vote in local elections. The WCTU chose their slate of male candidates during the election of 1887 (it would never have included a woman at that time), while some men at a local bar wrote up an identical list replacing the top slot for mayor with Susanna Salter, an officer at the WCTU, as an hysterical joke to embarrass them. The best part of the joke was that there was no need to qualify until the day of voting so they reveled in watching the shock on early voters’ faces and the buzz that stirred as they saw Susanna’s name at the top of the ballot. They knew no one would vote for a woman! It would be a slap in the face for the WCTU and finally keep them OUT of politics.
And, it almost worked if it hadn’t been for those meddling voters. As I said, women could vote, only just. They recently had been given that right just months earlier. Can you imagine their luck when they saw one of their own on the ballot, something they thought certain wouldn’t happen for years to come Susanna’s family was well liked and the jokers in the bar, well, they weren’t very funny. She won by 75 percent of the vote that day, becoming America’s first female U.S. Mayor ever, and she was only 27 and pregnant! News spread all the way to Queen Victoria and other European nobility.
Winning was delicious revenge; squashing the competition had to be even sweeter! Of course, she must have known she had it in the bag given that her supporters were a group of disenfranchised sober females searching for a little control in their lives.