Hugh Hefner has spent most of his adult life — more than 60 out of his 91 years— running a business based on lust, something viewed traditionally by Christianity and other world religions as a sin, and while I’m sure he’d argue a very different perspective on it, I don’t think he’d ever claim himself to be an angel.
But when it comes to running a business, in my view, he’s done a lot of things RIGHT… and when the show “The Girls Next Door,” ran on the E! network, I watch and I learned.
I’d be lying if I said I began watching Girls Next Door in order to learn how to run a successful business. I think, like many female fans of the show, I was mesmerized by the fantastically hedonistic lifestyle of his girlfriends (three in all, and all at the same time). It was hard to look away from the fun, the fashion, the glitz, and the beauty.
Eventually, I looked past all of the escapism that is Playboy and instead focused on the business of Playboy — and how Hugh Hefner managed it.
And what I noticed is that Hef surrounds himself with good people. That might sound strange to some. Certainly, there wasn’t much “good” to be found in the morality (or lack there of) those being portrayed on the TV screen, which we are led to believe mirrors Hef’s real life. The girls next door were hardly “good” girls, and Hefner hasn’t necessarily lived an exemplary life.
What to look for in a “good” person
So what do I mean by “good”? I’m talking about the traits found within personalities that make these people supportive: dedication and dependability; being skilled and having experience; being a hard worker and a smart worker. These are people who do good work. And these are people that can be trusted.
And Hef knows a good thing when he sees it — and has it. I noticed that he keeps such people around, hanging on to them like pieces of gold, befriending them, nurturing them, caring for them… and in turn, they do the same for him.
Case in point: his assistant, Mary O’Connor. Roughly his contemporary in age (and now deceased), Mary was truly his right-hand woman. Hefner called her the “rock” of the Playboy mansion. She cared about the company and she cared about Hef. She worked hard, and I’d say she was rewarded in many ways, not the least of which were a lifelong job and an inside track to the world that was Playboy. Hef seeked her advice often, and she gave it, with honesty and sincerity. She was there to support him, and in return, he treated her with the upmost and mutual respect she rightly deserved. While he was still clearly her boss, the relationship was closer to a partnership in respect and appreciation.
Upon her death, Hef tweeted: “We loved her more than words can say.”
There were other employees of Playboy on the show that were treated in a very similar manner. And I watched. And I learned.
Creating freedom from the rest
One of the reasons I went in business for myself years ago was because it gives me FREEDOM. Now, one woman’s freedom might be another woman’s jail cell, but for me, I like the idea of making my own choices as to whom I work with and work for. And watching Hef on TV reminded me how being wise and being choosey in that area makes all the difference.
Keep in mind, having your own business doesn’t mean you are fully your own boss. Quite the contrary — you’ve instead inherited many bosses in the form of clients and customers. Like it or not, each on is your boss — at least for that moment.
But few employees get a say in who their boss is nor who their co-workers might be. I, on the other hand, can decide who is a good fit for my services and who I’ll be working with today and tomorrow.
I’ve been happy to say that most of my clients have been like this, but alas, not all. There have been a small minority that I wish I had never met. But similar to Hef, I, too, have learned how to surround myself with good people, and slough off the bad. I have left bad clients behind, and I’ve become much choosier with the ones I take on.
The better route over the easy route
Being choosey hasn’t always been easy. The easy route — and the one that would appear to be more financially “safe” —would be to take on every client that came my way.
In the past, I was guilty of taking that easy route — of putting myself through the agony of working for an awful client, just for the financial security. For the money. The money! How could I turn down a paying gig? Where else would the money come from if I did?
But there are things more important to me than money. My health, both mental and physical is one. The well-being of my business is another. My standards and my philosophy that I and all human beings need to be treated with dignity and respect, including respect for our time outside of the work place, are high on the list. To hold on to that while I refused to work for a client was really my ability to also respect myself, and dignify my thoughts and feelings regarding my own life.
Yes, one might take the easy route, purely out of fear. But frankly, fear has no place in a successful business. And my choices meant positivity for not only myself, but for my client. My choices ensure that my clients and I are a good fit — that we will work well together and reach our mutual goals.
Better people, better business, better life
The proof, as they say, was in the pudding: The money still flowed in after the bad clients went away. It came from better sources, and the work was and is so much more enjoyable. It was greed, fear, and even a lack of faith that made me think that there was no other way to make money but to accept it from someone who hurt me.
And as for the associates I hire to help me with my business — very much like Hef, I’ve chosen the best: the hardest, most dedicated, skilled, and experienced people. Those choices I will never regret. They always serve me and my business well, in every sense of the words “to serve.”
As a result, all my business relationships are fantastic; they are the foundations upon which ventures and projects are built to be hugely successful —and downright enjoyable — for everyone involved.
It’s been rewarding to work with others specifically because I’ve chosen them, rather than because I’ve been placed into a situation where I am forced into working with them. I hope that all my colleagues and clients have felt equally good about working with me as well.
So, I took Hugh Hefner’s philosophy on business, and I “one upped” him: I took it to my personal life. I’ve always been choosey about my friends, but years ago, I took it up a notch.
The people in my life are now the people who have always loved me and supported me. No jealousy and no hatred allowed. Spew your anger at me, and you’ll quickly eat my dust. I have no time nor desire for negativity or toxicity.
Moreover, if you love me, support me, and treat me with respect — I, in return, will reward you with the same, and even more so.
My friends aren’t perfect, but they are inherently GOOD — they search out good, and they work toward good… They build up my energy, rather than suck it out. I love having them around me. They truly are golden. I hope I do return the goodness back to them.
A lesson learned from an unlikely source
You might have been an unexpected source, with an even more unexpected revelation, but thanks, Hef, for the business — and the life — lesson. I now consistently strive to surround myself with good people all the time — in my business life and in my personal life — and I’m a better business person and a better PERSON for it.