Sir Alex Ferguson was recently invited to help teach a class at Harvard Business School as a follow up to one professor's in-depth case study on him. In the class, Ferguson imparted his vast wisdom on the students in a manner similar to Jose Mourinho's class for 200 American coaches at UCLA last summer. These are lessons Ferguson shared...
"Lesson 1: On your very first day at a new job, fight a python with your bare hands in front of your superiors and underlings. This is very important and it accomplishes two things. First, it makes your superiors too afraid to ever try and sack you because they know you have access to pythons. Second, it makes your underlings too afraid to go against your wishes because they know that if you'll fight a python, you'll fight them.
"Lesson 2: Let your enemies believe myths about you and your influence. Like how officials grant you more time or penalize your competitors when it can help you. Or how certain officials are essentially your employees. They'll end up intimidating themselves with these tales and make themselves look stupid. It will also distract them from the grander and far less obvious conspiracies involving magnets and hemorrhoids you perpetrate without them knowing.
"Lesson 3: It's important to show the people you depend on that you care for them very deeply. But it's even more important to let them know when they've let you down. People call my method of doing this "the hairdryer treatment," but yelling at them until their face starts to melt is only the beginning. The part that leaves a lasting impact is when I mysteriously appear while they're making love and stare directly into their eyes while loudly chewing gum when it's too late for them to stop what they're doing. This creates a bond of shame and subordination that cannot be broken.
"Lesson 4: Never buy anything from Portugal for £7 million without seeing it first. I don't care how much red wine you've had when your former assistant calls to tell you about it. Do not buy it. You can loan it to a Turkish company and hope they lose it or forget to give it back, but they won't. They won't...
"Lesson 5: People say a lot of cruel things about gingers, but they're actually made entirely of magic and bad tackles. Keep one around for as long as you can.
"Lesson 6: The press is a bunch of scabby tossbags. Never speak to them if you can help it. If you must speak to them, treat them with obvious contempt and think about how they are disappointments to everyone they care about the whole time. They will actually think you enjoy their company.
"Lesson 7: Kick a boot at David Beckham's head. That's not a metaphor of any kind, I mean that literally. Kick a boot at David Beckham's head. You'll never feel more alive and his dumb handsome face will never see it coming.
"Lesson 8: When you're in the twilight of your career and you know your time on this planet is starting to wind down, try and share everything you've learned with the next generation. Be open and honest with them. And then, after you've told them all your secrets and they leave that room -- hopefully with a new and more informed perspective on things -- you can fly back to Manchester and cackle the whole way because those Harvard idiots actually believed they were so special that you'd tell them the good stuff that you won't even tell your own son. Anyway, you don't get a statue of yourself built outside your office while you're still working there just for doing what someone else told you to do."