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Bosses From Hell.And What You Can Learn From Them

You may hate your old bosses like Lucifer, but you can learn from them. Just don't join their minions.

This story appears in the February 2001 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

Cam Marston didn't want to look at the face across the desk.He didn't like his latest assignment, but what could he do? Hisboss had ordered him to fire this employee, a nice guy who may nothave been a brilliant worker but was coming along. However, thecompany was pretty successful: "I figured my boss knew what hewas doing," explains Marston. And so if this had been a moviewestern instead of an average day in 1996, here's the partwhere the then-26-year-old Marston would have cocked his pistol-andfired.

The employee went down, pale and frightened. And then hepleaded, "But why . . . ?"
"It's just a management decision, based on the way you fitin here," said Marston, who actually had no clue why this poorschmuck was getting the ax. "I thought this was going to bethe one," the employee gasped, shell-shocked, rubbing hishands through his hair. "I really like it here. I liked theproduct." Then he started to cry.
"I'm sorry," Marston wheezed. "I'm reallysorry." Eyes red, hair a mess, the employee slunk back to hisdesk and gathered his photos of his wife and children. He clutchedhis coffee cup and some pencils, and he started the long, miserabletrek out of the office. His shoulders were stooped, and thoughtall, he looked very small. But just before he reached the exit,Marston's boss emerged. He was, Marston swears, a beady-eyedman with veins popping out of his neck. "Wait a minute,"the boss said. "Cam just fired you, right?"
"Y-y-yes. What's going on?"
"Well, you're not let go," the boss announcedcheerfully. "I just wanted to see if Cam was able to fire you.I didn't think he had the strength to do that. You're notfired; get back on the phones. Cam, good job! Come into myoffice."

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