I'm sure you've heard that nobody reads anymore.
Of course, that's not true.
But I bet most people don't read books from several decades ago, and that's a big mistake. The old books are often way better than the new ones.
And one such "classic" (although I hate that word) is How to Win Friends and Influence People. It's phenomenal, but it's not what I want to talk about.
I want to talk about the opposite of that.
Last Saturday night, SNL did a sketch that talked about the New England Patriots--and how much everyone hates them. The point: everyone's tired of the Patriots and everyone despises them. It's funny.
It got me thinking, though. Why is that? Why do so many people hate the Patriots? They've embodied excellence for almost twenty years, and they play the most entertaining Super Bowls of all time.
Yet they're hated.
Then I got to thinking more: who else has been the best in the world for almost twenty years? Answer: Roger Federer. He also embodies excellence and has played in some of the best matches of all time.
So do people hate him?
Go back and watch this year's Australian Open final. At 3-1 in the fifth and deciding set, the fans started chanting, "Ro-ger! Ro-ger!" at the top of their lungs. This is at a neutral site in a match against a nice, uncontroversial opponent (Cilic). There's no reason why the crowd should be crazily backing Federer, but they are.
Two different dynasties, two distinctly different feelings. What gives?
The answer is that there are certain things we all can do to be hated, and there are things we can do to be loved. Here's a breakdown on how not to be hated:
1. Be honest. Federer has said many times how hard he tries to give an honest, interesting answer to whoever is interviewing him. In fact, Federer has apologized live for not giving good enough answers. For the Aussie final, he even came out and said how nervous he was and how crestfallen he would've been had he lost.
The Patriots are the opposite of that. They never give anything away and never tell the truth. One of their best defensive backs was benched right before the Super Bowl and no one will say why. It's understood that the answer to this important question will probably never be known. At the same time, it's also understood that any Patriots player will never give up any information and that all injury reports and player updates from New England are always fake. Most famously, when asked fair questions after an important loss, Belichick refused to give any honest information except the superficial phrase, "on to Cincinnati."
You want to be hated? Be dishonest.
2. Treat everyone kindly. We've talked before about how well Federer treats the "little people." He goes out of his way to even make sure the ball kids have an easy job. He signs autographs diligently after wins and stays until everyone's obligations are met. He treats every reporter with respect, so much so that a reporter at the Australian Open actually caught flak for not being an impartial journalist and hugging Federer after a match.
The Patriots, however, take a different tack. They throw the "insignificant people" away like yesterday's trash. During the infamous Deflategate scandal, the employees who were involved were let go and/or suspended while no one else took any blame.
Further, the Patriots are notorious for getting rid of players who've won for them and replacing them with cheaper fill-ins. While that might be "good business" (debatable), it's also a way to not be loved.
And throughout their entire successful run, the Patriots have been condescending and rude to just about anyone who asks them questions.
3. Be the same on and off the field. Search around for Federer anecdotes and you'll hear different version of the same story: Federer is a really nice guy. On the court, he takes care of ball boys, he treats reporters kindly, and cares about other players. Off the court, he goes out of his way to be kind to everyone he meets. Former world #1 Patrick Rafter even came out this week and said, about Federer, that "what you see in public is how he is."
The Patriots are untouchable and unknowable. Even with Tom Brady's Facebook documentaries, nobody really knows him. Even when he released his new book he just became more esoteric. What kind of person lives like this?? Same for Belichick. There have been several people who have said that Belichick isn't really such an awful person off the field. While that might be true, the huge chasm between coach and person doesn't make him more relate-able. It makes him more hate-able.
4. Don't cheat. If you cheat, or if people think you cheat, you're not going to be loved. Federer is notorious for trying to do the right thing by his opponent. He's also knows for helping out hitting partners and not trying to steal secrets he can use in later matches.
The Patriots? They're made cheating a brand. From Spygate to Deflategate, it's understood that the Patriots are going to bend or break the rules. That makes it very difficult to love them.
It's easy to say that winning a lot brings its share of contempt and jealousy. And that might be little bit true.
But that doesn't explain why Federer is selling out stadiums and exhibitions and practice sessions after twenty years of winning. That doesn't explain why he's been named as the tour's Fan Favorite for fifteen years in a row. That doesn't explain why people are screaming for him in countries all over the world.
Being hated is a lifestyle and a choice. If we don't want to be hated, we can always choose something different.
My latest book is The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.