Nobody Likes the Pusher Man

“No pressure, no diamonds.”Mary Case

The Pusher Man is the go-to guy when it’s time to stop talking and get things done.

  • He’s the haggler who pushes you to kick in every minute of the time and every bit of the resources you drunkenly agreed to invest in a project.
  • He’s the hassler who pushes you to finish writing up that great sales idea you came up with at the last marketing meeting.
  • He’s the nag who calls you when you’re five minutes late on anything you’ve ever promised.

The Pusher Man is frequently resented, sometimes despised, and often underestimated. Why? Because he is willing to do what he has to do — even if that makes others feel uncomfortable. Winning friends is not his primary goal in life. He’s focused only on getting the job done. He would like to be liked — he is, after all, very human — but he is willing to sacrifice his personal feelings for the greater good of the business.

In every business that works — that produces good products and makes sales and creates profits — there is a Pusher Man. In every successful business I’ve been involved with, there has been someone who has steamrollered people into working harder than they wanted to, taking more risk than they felt comfortable with, being more careful than they were used to, being more creative than they believed they could be . . . and always to do better than they did the time before.

One of my first jobs was selling aluminum siding. My boss, Mr. Berkowitz, was a kind man and a hard worker. But he was not a pusher. He showed me the ropes, taught me everything he knew, and then he dropped me off in a likely neighborhood to do the hard door-to-door selling on my own. What did I do? I dumped the brochures in the sewer and hid in the park until he picked me up later in the afternoon.

Leo, my first boss in the publishing business, was a made-for-action Pusher Man. With a head the size of a basketball, set on shoulders as wide as a door, Leo was a non-stop finger-prodding, conversation-interrupting madman. He gave me my first real contact with the kind of power that a Pusher Man can wield. Once, when I ruined a company car by running it without oil, he had me call the manufacturer at least 500 times to insist that they replace the out-of-warranty engine for free. Even after the vice president of Honda Motors called to personally tell us they couldn’t do it — and beg us to stop badgering them — Leo had me call back to give it one more try. I don’t have to tell you what happened, do I? We got a new car.

Nobody I ever worked with was better at pushing than JSN. He was relentless in his efforts to achieve an objective . . . amazingly astute in every detail of what was necessary to get the job done . . . and impressively agile when it came to bugging people. You almost felt that he was being nice to you — when what he was really doing was getting you to agree to stay at work till midnight.

Here’s the point . . .

You need a Pusher Man in your business, and you may need a Pusher Man (or Woman) in your personal life as well. Goals are achieved by doing, and great goals require doing things most people don’t have the capacity to do. To make the hard decisions, to work the extra hours, to have the difficult conversations, and to take the necessary risks . . . you need someone behind you to push you beyond your comfort zone.