There is a Time to talk and a Time to Act


“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Dale Carnegie


Ok. I had a pretty cool job in college. I worked in the early 80s for a company called Contemporary Security Company (the guys who stand on fields and in front of the stage wearing t-shirts that have CSC on them doing “crowd control”). I have a zillion stories from those three years, but I will only tell one here.

At this CSC job,, unless you were about 6′ 4″ 220 you started (and ended) doing bottle check when people came in stadiums or worked popular bar mitzvahs. Well. I am maybe 5’8″ in shoes, but stocky, and didn’t really want to be stuck checking and chucking liquor at U2 side gate entrances at barely minimum hour wages.

Which leads me to The Starwood.

At the time there was a club called The Starwood in West Hollywood. It was a zoo of a place with live bands on one side and dj dance floor on the other. Lots of drugs and drinking and in general debauchery. Pretty much no one in their right mind at CSC wanted to work that job (6 main security guys and one supervisor every night). This meant every weekend CSC management was scrambling for staff.

I figured it may be a way to stand out. I volunteered. The first time. “Nope. You will get killed.” Second time volunteered. The same response. Third time? Their desperation kicked in: “Be there by 6 to check in.”

So I get there. The supervisor who was pretty much there every weekend (a big guy named Laurence who had played football at USC) took one look at me and said “why the fuck did they send you?” After some debating we ended up with me as one of the doormen and giving guys on the floor a break throughout the night.

From that point on I ended up working weekends there off and on maybe a year and a half. And it quickly led to me gaining a supervisor role.

How the heck did this happen?

All because it seems like I understood the balance between talking and acting. Now understand that at The Starwood we probably averaged “an incident a night per security guy” .. every single night. The best Starwood example I can describe about talk versus act came maybe in about month two there. We were short a guy and I was on the main floor. There was a really tall guy really drunk and really being an asshole. He was maybe 6’6″. So I wandered over and tapped him on the back (I wanted to tap a shoulder, but I didn’t think asking him to lean over so I could reach it would be appropriate) and told him to quit being an asshole or he was going to have to leave.

Now. Let’s be clear. I didn’t mind a good fight now and then when I was younger, but I did find that 95% of the time I could talk our way thru to a solution. My guess is figured this out after realizing a cracked bone in your hand REALLY hurts.

Back to The Starwood.

So my initial attempt at diplomacy created a fairly succinct response. This guy turned around and laughed and said “little man, I think I’m gonna be an asshole and stay.”

I punched him as hard as I could right in his stomach (I would have aimed for the stomach even if it wasn’t the only thing I could actually reach).

As he kneeled on the really nasty dirty floor, looking for some oxygen I think he dropped, I yelled in his ear “nope big man, you’re leaving”.

We kind of moved him along out the door at that point and that was that.

To be honest. That job taught me a lot about business. And this lesson was if you are the smaller guy sometimes it is more important to stop talking and just do something.

Interestingly, that little event also stopped all talk about whether I was big enough or tough enough to work at The Starwood. As a matter of fact, any talk about me working at any event and, in fact, some senior supervisors would begin asking for me.

Now. I am not proposing you go around punching people. But I have to tell you. I have no doubt in my mind if I had not taken the offensive, I would have ended up in a world of hurt.

Which leads me to I see lots of companies talking and talking and, well, talking. And while not quite The Starwood (where that kind of action would mean you physically got the shit kicked out of you) it is interesting to note while they are talking (and talking) some other company is punching the crap out of your company. As a manager (this is the lesson I learned) sometimes your company needs to come out punching. For two reasons:

  • You may not be the biggest or the bestest, but if you can sneak in a really good punch, you may be able to take ‘em.
  • People look at you differently if you actually make the punch (and even more so if you do it at the right time)


Written by Bruce