Learning from Machiavelli’s Career

One might think that Machiavelli had a great career. His seminal masterpiece, The Prince, broke from the strictures of morality to explore the use of rationality in the proper running of a government. It remains a required reading in many college programs in business, political science, and philosophy. Surely, someone like Machiavelli, who forever changed the way people think, had a solid career. Yet that is far from true. In fact, there were many years when things were not well.

Machiavelli was to the Second Chancery of the Signoria until the fall of the Florentine Republic in 1512. As his government fell, so did his responsibilities as an assistant to state. He was banished from the city and reduced to the state of a meager farmer. The idleness of farming life drove him to seek an alternative, and he sought to return to the game of statehood.

Late in 1513, Machiavelli wrote to a professional acquaintance, Francesco Vettori. In this letter, he stated that he had determined that his essay, “The Prince”, should be addressed to Giuliano de Medici. He said:

“Having read this thing, one will see that I did not sleep or gamble away the fifteen years I was engaged in the study of statecraft, and anyone ought to value the services of a man who has become richly experienced at another’s expense.”

Thus, Machiavelli’s motivation for writing The Prince was to get a job. He wanted to demonstrate his skills, motivation, and intelligence to impress a potential employer. To do so, Machiavelli embarked on writing a book in the hopes that a potential potentate would provide him with responsibilities and rewards.

His approach to the job market was not to yield swift results. Not until 1519 was Machiavelli consulted for an issue of state with respect to the creation of a new constitution for the restoration of the Great Council of Florence. Shortly thereafter though, his responsibilities grew and he began to participate in a number of literary and state affairs.

Two quick points to be gleaned from Machiavelli’s journey:

  1. When your resume fails to convince your audience, create an alternative means to communicate your talents, intellect, and drive.
  2. Writing articles and books is not a quick route to success, but they do contribute to the accomplishment of success.

Careers, like Business Models, Evolve

Machiavelli’s motivation and resulting career path provides a few parallels to your editor’s. Originally, while writing for The May Report, I was motivated by a desire to land a job. But, in January of 2002 during the middle of an economic downturn, my missives were not to yield a new position. Fortunately, motivations evolve. Bob Cermak and I founded Wiglaf LLC, the publisher of The Wiglaf Journal originally as a marketing vehicle. Yet, we found the journal reached an audience much broader than that which we could serve. Subsequently, The Wiglaf Journal has evolved from a marketing vehicle, to subscription magazine, and finally to a sponsor supported online magazine. Now, my career path has taken another turn as did Machiavelli’s.

After writing for The Wiglaf Journal and other publications for over two years during which I authored roughly 200 articles, I am pleased to announce my journey has led me back into business sales. Tantalus, an AMR and communications vendor to the utilities industry, has selected me to be an Account Executive for the Midwest Region. With Tantalus, I have the opportunity to express my talents, skills, and drive to contribute to a business success and be properly rewarded.

After researching a number of AMR vendors, I am convinced that Tantalus has the best solution for the current and growing needs of utility companies. Couple the solution strength with a strong executive team, and Tantalus has a unique opportunity to create a spectacular business success. I am delighted that they have selected me to help them seize this opportunity and achieve their full potential.

Much Appreciation

Over the two and a half years of publication, we have had over 40,000 readers review our work either on-line or with their subscription. We are proud to have earned your superlatives of “relevant, beneficial, valuable, insightful, thought provoking, outstanding, and incisive”. We have striven to provide practical bridges between marketing theory and practical business, and you have responded by referring to our work as demonstrating integrity, providing an experienced perspective, and communicating the latest in strategic marketing. I am overwhelmed.

Along the way, The Wiglaf Journal has benefited from the support of a number of individuals. First and foremost, thank you to Bob Cermak and Yvette Kaiser Smith, without whom this work would not have been undertaken. Bob has been a friend, partner, and mentor to me since before the inception of The Wiglaf Journal, and continues to remain active in supporting my endeavors. All have benefited from the work of Yvette Kaiser Smith, who has not only supported me in this endeavor, but has also provided all the graphic design and editing along the way. My writing would not be comprehensible without her input.

I would also like to thank the industry associations that have lent their support, including Spintelligent, Professional Pricing Society, Chicago Software Association, AMRA, TiE Midwest, and Energy Venture Fair. Thank you to Exact Target for providing a superb email solution for distributing The Wiglaf Journal. Thank you to Big Frontier and The Virtual Strategist for their branding support. And, importantly, thank you to SpeedRead, RisKurb, Blue Heron Consulting, and Adica Consulting for their financial support as Wiglaf Consulting Clients.

While further issues of The Wiglaf Journal will not include my researched insight on the same regular schedule, you can be confident that there is more to be heard from me. In tandem with the biweekly missives, I have been working diligently on a book exploring Integrated Sales and Marketing in Business Markets. Early in 2005, The Wiglaf Journal will inform you of its release. In the meantime, archived articles will remain posted online at www.wiglafjournal.com and this forum will remain a place for other authors to explore business challenges and their potential solutions.

Thank you for all your fine support. Your readership is greatly appreciated.

Tim Smith, PhD