Mos Def: The Setup

Do not allow yourself to be set up to fail.

Unenlightened upper management may cut back on your resources and still to expect you to complete your tasks. They may even pile new responsibilities onto your plate.

You’re then at a crossroads. Do you complain and even refuse to step up and deliver and risk being perceived as someone who is not a “team player”, or do you keep quiet, hunker down and watch your quality of life and the quality of your performance suffer? The hunker down option is a short-term, self-defeating fix because you will eventually fail – either due to exhaustion or alienation and disgust. Better to honestly, objectively and honorably forcefully articulate the unsustainability of your situation. The accountability for your success then rests squarely on management’s shoulders.

6 thoughts on “Mos Def: The Setup

  1. Lisa

    While I don’t disagree with this in theory, you aren’t offering any real, tangible solutions to the problem. How do you constructively approach management and make a case for your situation? Those would be useful tips.

    1. Andy Epstein Post author


      Your request for more support deserves a detailed response. 3 pieces will be posting starting with the first one next week.


  2. David

    What does this have to do with Mos Def, or a setup? I thought you were going to talk about turntables and freestyln…

    Other than that I guess I would agree with you here, although I’m sure many people will probably just do the work because aren’t we lucky to have a job. But if you’re the type to confront management while articulating that it is for the good of the company then they are lucky to have you, and maybe you could do better.

  3. edr3

    “Work is scarce skilled working is rare
    Fonzi fronting at the job site primping up they hair
    Word, well tell them only staff could drink they coffee
    Walking papers hit the office sleep late tomorrow morning”
    – Mos Def

    In order to successfully navigate most corporate environments and the challenging road blocks that can clutter your path, you must be more than your title, you must become a skilled strategist. Go beyond the safe haven of Creative Services and venture out and develop genuine relationships with people from diverse disciplines throughout the organization. Learn what they do, educate them on what you do. By creating these genuine relationships you’ll find that once cluttered path is less cluttered because more people have your back. Like Mos Def says, “Work is scarce skilled working is rare.” Think strategically, if you don’t someone more engaged will.

  4. another Lisa

    edr3 makes a lot of sense, unless you worked in a company like I did: one where the CMO was threatened and terrified by anyone who challenged her and didn’t fall into lockstep. I did do a lot of what he (she) suggests: built relationships beyond the 6 people I worked with, learned what other groups did so the marketing dept could better serve their needs. I was fired for my trouble because I asked questions, challenged people to think beyond PMS281, dared to suggest there was more that one way to do something.

    Lesson learned: keep your head down & your mouth shut? I’ve rarely worked in an in-house environment that was much more than taking orders & delivering the goods, but this last one was the worst. Maybe in-house & I have outgrown each other.

    1. edr3

      Hey Lisa,

      You may not need in-house but in-house definitely needs a person who cares and has passion like yourself. I didn’t mean to give the impression that after venturing out of Creative Services and connecting with people from different divisions that it’s all peaches and cream. I completely empathize with you on the fact that there are insecure indivduals in high positions that can put a wrinkle in your best intentions. Please don’t let those individuals kill your passion what you like to do and how you like to do it. I’d be curious to know how long that insecure CMO stays in that position. I’m looking forward to reading Andy’s posts on the topic.

      Take care,