The Outsider

When I was a farmer lad I noticed that whenever we bought a new cow, and

turned her into the pasture with the herd, there was a general

inclination on the part of the rest to make the new cow think she had

landed in the orthodox perdition. They would hook her away from the

salt, chase her from the water, and the long-horned ones, for several

weeks, would lose no opportunity to give her vigorous digs, pokes

and prods.

With horses it was the same. And I remember one particular little black

mare that we boys used to transfer from one pasture to another, just to

see her back into a herd of horses and hear her hoofs play a resounding

solo on their ribs as they gathered round to do her mischief.

Men are animals just as much as are cows, horses and pigs; and they

manifest similar proclivities. The introduction of a new man into an

institution always causes a small panic of resentment, especially if he

be a person of some power. Even in schools and colleges the new teacher

has to fight his way to overcome the opposition he is certain to meet.

In a lumber camp, the newcomer would do well to take the initiative,

like that little black mare, and meet the first black look with a

short-arm jab.

But in a bank, department store or railroad office this cannot be. So

the next best thing is to endure, and win out by an attention to

business to which the place is unaccustomed. In any event, the bigger

the man, unless he has the absolute power to overawe everything, the

more uncomfortable will be his position until gradually time smooths the

way and new issues come up for criticism, opposition and resentment, and

he is forgotten.

The idea of Civil Service Reform--promotion for the good men in your

employ rather than hiring new ones for the big places--is a rule which

looks well on paper but is a fatal policy if carried out to the letter.

The business that is not progressive is sowing the seeds of its own

dissolution. Life is a movement forward, and all things in nature that

are not evolving into something better are preparing to return into

their constituent elements. One general rule for progress in big

business concerns is the introduction of new blood. You must keep step

with the business world. If you lag behind, the outlaws that hang on the

flanks of commerce will cut you out and take you captive, just as the

wolves lie in wait for the sick cow of the plains.

To keep your columns marching you must introduce new methods, new

inspiration and seize upon the best that others have invented or


The great railroads of America have evolved together. No one of them has

an appliance or a method that is much beyond the rest. If it were not

for this interchange of men and ideas some railroads would still be

using the link and pin, and snake-heads would be as common as in the

year 1869.

The railroad manager who knows his business is ever on the lookout for

excellence among his men, and he promotes those who give an undivided

service. But besides this he hires a strong man occasionally from the

outside and promotes him over everybody. Then out come the hammers!

But this makes but little difference to your competent manager--if a

place is to be filled and he has no one on his payroll big enough to

fill it, he hires an outsider.

That is right and well for every one concerned. The new life of many a

firm dates from the day they hired a new man.

Communities that intermarry raise a fine crop of scrubs, and the result

is the same in business ventures. Two of America's largest publishing

houses failed for a tidy sum of five millions or so each, a few years

ago, just thru a dogged policy, that extended over a period of fifty

years, of promoting cousins, uncles and aunts whose only claim of

efficiency was that they had been on the pension roll for a long time.

This way lies dry-rot.

If you are a business man, and have a position of responsibility to be

filled, look carefully among your old helpers for a man to promote. But

if you haven't a man big enough to fill the place, do not put in a

little one for the sake of peace. Go outside and find a man and hire

him--never mind the salary if he can man the position--wages are always

relative to earning power. This will be the only way you can really man

your ship.

As for Civil Service Rules--rules are made to be broken. And as for the

long-horned ones who will attempt to make life miserable for your new

employe, be patient with them. It is the privilege of everybody to do a

reasonable amount of kicking, especially if the person has been a long

time with one concern and has received many benefits.

But if at the last, worst comes to worst, do not forget that you

yourself are at the head of the concern. If it fails you get the blame.

And should the anvil chorus become so persistent that there is danger of

discord taking the place of harmony, stand by your new man, even tho it

is necessary to give the blue envelope to every antediluvian. Precedence

in business is a matter of power, and years in one position may mean

that the man has been there so long that he needs a change. Let the

zephyrs of natural law play freely thru your whiskers.

So here is the argument: promote your deserving men, but do not be

afraid to hire a keen outsider; he helps everybody, even the kickers,

for if you disintegrate and go down in defeat, the kickers will have to

skirmish around for new jobs anyway. Isn't that so?