At my old workplace, there was a guy named Jorge. Now my old workplace was kind of the stereotypical corporate boomer type of place where senior leadership played golf and everyone was trying to please them. Jorge was on my team which was mostly people in their twenties but I notice that he kept a very low profile. All Jorge would do was do work and then head home, not even stopping for Happy Hour.
On the other end was Rob who was Jorge’s opposite, someone who tried to mingle and leave a mark on leadership. In large team meetings that involved the whole company, Rob would always speak out and try to make his voice heard. In a way, Rob cared a lot about trying to get promoted and how leadership perceived him. Rob even tried to golf with the coworkers and get on the good side of the boss, building rapport whenever possible.
During one night, I was out and about in NYC, this was all before the pandemic. I go to a random spot by chance on Saturday and notice that Jorge is working as a bartender. Now Jorge was not a bad looking dude at all, he kind of looked like Mario Lopez. So I approach Jorge since it was not as busy and smile, not wanting to make him feel uncomfortable.
“My man,” said Jorge, smiling. I had never seen him smile like that.
“Jorge bro, how’s it going?”, I replied. I’ll save you all the banter but not long after, an insanely cute redhead and a sexy brunette with blue eyes sat down next to me at the bar.
“Okay Saved By The Bell, it better be stronger this time,” said the brunette, loudly.
“Girl please, that Irish blood can drink this whole damn bottle of Jack in a few seconds!” said Jorge, as people nearby laughed.
I was there with a friend and we all enjoyed the night, a lot. No one really knew that Jorge was moonlighting as a bartender at my job but somehow, he always gave off that suave vibe. I seemed to notice that a couple of the cute girls loved Jorge, a lot. While leadership never noticed, Jorge was always getting work done. Leadership had no choice but to acknowledge Rob but Jorge seemed to want to stay out of their sight.
At some point, we all had to go to what was a company-wide trip in Vegas. I noticed that Jorge kept a low profile while Rob was drinking and trying to build rapport. Then, out of nowhere, I noticed that one of the C-levels at our company asked about Jorge. The C-level had a few drinks and even blurted loudly where Jorge is. Come to find, one of the hottest girls at the company was standing and chatting with Jorge.
Before we knew it, the C-levels and senior VPs were trying to get to know Jorge better while he tried to be avoidant. Then, one of the girls let it out and said that he moonlights as a bartender. The COO asked where at and Jorge replied, then he said that his daughter loved that place back in the day. Jorge smiled and didn’t boast much, said he enjoys working there. The VP said it is admirable that Jorge is moonlighting and even said it is way better than folks who try desperately to fit in to the company and make work everything, obviously throwing shade at Rob.
I was cool with Rob who would always hype up and say things about senior leadership in a flattering way. Rob pedestalized the higher ups and anyone who was involved with leadership, talking about their hobbies. Meanwhile, Jorge could give a rat’s ass and barely even knew them. Yet, that whole dynamic made him even more appealing to leadership who now wanted him to play golf with them. Jorge told me he wishes there was a way out but unfortunately, it would be a bad look if he denied.
Then, Jorge gets drunk with one of the senior leaders during Happy Hour I was at since they loved him so much and I overhear them berating Rob. One calls Rob a “twinkie”, throwing shade at him for being an Asian guy who acts very white. I was angry that they talked about Rob this way but it was so enlightening because this same VP said good things about Rob to his face. Jorge and I chatted a few days later and he was the popular kid at the company who told me that he wishes he was not getting that attention.
“Why? You hate golf a lot huh,” I said.
“Nah man, it’s just that I see work as work and I do not really want to fit in with those people. I just want to make my money, pursue my hobbies, and not even bother with the golf and heavy politics. For me, once work is done, it is done and I am going to live my life. It ain’t that crucial bro. I am cool with having a role where I just punch in and punch out than being a leader that has all the eyes on him,” he replied.
“Dude, I can see why you would feel like that for sure, your life is fun,” I said.
“Yeah, I mean it is one of the most powerful feelings you can have in this world. Knowing you have made a great life for yourself that no matter what some corporate dude thinks, you know you will wake up tomorrow happy. You know that there is no need to impress anyone but yourself and that shit is powerful bro,” replied Jorge.
“Tell me about it man, I wonder how you do it,” I said.
“It’s simple man, you find something you can enjoy and go towards that. A job is a means to an end and the second you start trying to please people internally is the second you lose. For me, they can keep me where I am at and even fire me, it means nothing. I rather get promoted for my work and not because I wanted to play golf with some old geezer who is on a power trip. I still rather hang out with the folks at the bar on a low budget than old geezers balling out,” said Jorge.
“Careful man haha, they may be listening,” I said.
“I could care less dude, I rather be true to myself and not waste time getting tangled up in corporate drama,” said Jorge.
A few months later, Jorge was asked to speak on company wide meetings and even got a promotion. Rob got the promotion too but he was not in the good graces of leadership who often saw him as someone who tried too hard. Jorge eventually left the job on his own will while people always talked about him. Meanwhile, Rob stayed only to find that he had faced a hard ceiling due to what leadership thought of him.
I caught up with Jorge a year later where he found a better paying job at a nicer brand. Somehow, the leadership there loved him even more because of his lifestyle and how he was not so attached. Jorge gave minimal effort to fit in, only doing so in small doses, and lived a life true to himself. I saw Jorge at times show up to Happy Hour with hot girls as a result of his lifestyle and that got others at the company wanting to be his friend, even though it was to use him. Regardless, Jorge seemed to live a happy life as opposed to playing the social games.
Rob got caught up in the same social games over and over again. I noticed that work became life for him and he ended up facing issues because of it. Rob would find a place, try to leave a mark, fit in, and somehow that led to others not wanting to be his friends. I learned something from all of this.
There is value in not wanting something, it will find its way to you. Even in the corporate world, those who try too hard to please higher ups end up being disappointed. A lot of times, these folks get burned by higher ups who know these people need them and end up miserable. Meanwhile, it is always those who could mostly give a rat’s ass about perception and live a life true to them outside of work hours that higher ups seem to always want to get to know.