This is the 147th installment of The Labyrinthian, a series dedicated to exploring random fields of knowledge in order to give you unordinary theoretical, philosophical, strategic, and/or often rambling guidance on daily fantasy sports. Consult the introductory piece to the series for further explanation.

A couple of weeks ago I was on vacation (a.k.a. doing the work I normally do except doing it in a different part of the country), and my wife and I wandered into a bookstore, because apparently that’s what people do when they find themselves in small seacoast towns in the Northeast. I never buy books in bookstores because . . .

  1. I steal them from bookstores.
  2. I borrow them libraries.
  3. I steal them from libraries.
  4. I buy them cheaper online.
  5. I don’t know how to read.
  6. I also don’t know how to write, but that’s another matter.

Anyway, I never buy books in bookstores, but there I was at Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport, Massachusetts, leafing through a book that seemed like the type of book I’d want to write (if I knew how to write), and I thought, “F*ck it, I’ll break one of my most sacred money-saving rules and buy a book in a bookstore.”

That book was Works Well with Others: Shaking Hands, Shutting Up, and Other Crucial Skills in Business That No One Ever Teaches You. Written by Ross McCammon, an editor at GQ and former senior editor at Esquire, the book was humorous and insightful. Of course, because I want to write it off as a work expense, I now need to talk about it an article.

Fortunately, the book applies to the fantasy industry in a number of ways.

Works Well with Others

McCammon’s book is a little like Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Life — which, by the way, I now get to write off. While giving advice about how not to act like an unsophisticated moron in business settings, McCammon also recounts his professional transition from Dallas (where he worked for Southwest Airlines’ in-flight magazine) to New York (where he apparently made an ass of himself for a couple of years while learning how to act like a normal person).

While McCammon doesn’t seem to have an overarching and/or unifying vision for the book — you can see why it appealed to me — it does have many chapters that provide practical real-world wisdom. For instance:

  • Chapter 13: Things You Should Never Say in a Professional Setting
  • Chapter 14: How to Have a Meaningful Lunch in a Fancy Restaurant Full of Important People
  • Chapter 15: A Few More Rules for the Business Lunch
  • Chapter 16: How to Make Small Talk
  • Chapter 17: A List of Small-Talk Topics for People Who Hate Small Talk
  • Chapter 18: How to Have a Short but Meaningful Conversation in an Elevator

And I mustn’t forget . . .

  • Chapter 24: How to Find a Good Bar to Drink in After Work
  • Chapter 25: How to Work While Drinking

From that last chapter come these guidelines:

The Drinker’s Rules of 20

Drink 20 percent less than you want to.

Speak at 20 percent of the volume you think is appropriate.

Say 20 percent fewer thoughts than you think you should share.

If Matchbox 20 comes on, ask the bartender if he can switch it to a different song.

And leave 20 minutes before you think you should.

Clearly, McCammon is someone who’s gained his knowledge the old-fashioned way: Experience.

Working Well with Others in the Fantasy Industry

The fantasy industry is weird — and the people in it might be weirder. I don’t mean that as an insult. I love the fantasy industry and my job, and as I write this I’m wearing Harry Potter pajama bottoms, a Seinfeld shirt, and a Star Wars hoodie. I haven’t showered today, and if I wouldn’t have needed to leave the house yesterday for an event that required a collared shirt I probably wouldn’t have showered then either. I’m comfortable in my weirdness — and, thank Zeus, so is my wife.

Per McCammon, weirdness is a natural part of any industry:

Hugely important rule: Everyone is weird and nervous. No matter how famous or important, everyone is just really weird and really nervous. Especially the people who don’t seem weird or nervous.

One of the weird realities of our industry is that it exists almost entirely online. DraftKings has offices in Boston, ESPN has its famed fantasy summit every summer, and once per year the FantasyLabs employees get together for a weekend of in-person stupidity and British accents, but basically the fantasy industry lives on the screens of computers and smart phones.

On the one hand, that’s awesome. It enables people to work in the industry and live wherever they want — ideally in a place that allows people to play fantasy sports for money, but I digress. The ability to do my job remotely enabled me to take my little working vacation to the NE (and steal buy McCammon’s book) in the first place. Internet jobs are amazing.

On the other hand, because there’s so little in-person interaction in the industry, sometimes a small minority of people think it’s normal to conduct themselves like jackasses. While that might be ‘normal’ — especially on Twitter, which is basically the online office building in which the fantasy industry resides — it’s not ideal. It’s not a positive expected value strategy to be a Twitter troll.

More Thoughts on Not Being a Jackass

Even though not everything McCammon writes is applicable to the fantasy industry — for instance, I’m unlikely ever to rely on the wisdom of his chapters on clothes; he doesn’t explore hoodie etiquette in depth — fortunately McCammon has some chapters that touch on the subjects of social media and douchebaggedness:

  • Chapter 43: Why Strident Postures on Social Media Are, at the End of the Day, Probably a Bad Idea — Especially if You’re Looking for a Job
  • Chapter 44: How to Intimidate People
  • Chapter 45: On Assholery
  • Chapter 46: Are You an Asshole?
  • Chapter 47: The Case for Profanity
  • Chapter 48: How to Work with Someone Who Clearly Resents You and Is Threatened by You and Would Prefer That You Weren’t Around

Before going any further, I should make this disclaimer: I’m a prick, not an *sshole. Per McCammon:

Prickery is often the result of nerves and pressure, and its intensity fluctuates depending on the situation. It is often comical.

Assholes are not nuanced. They are assholes through and through. They are assholes when the pressure is on. They are assholes when the pressure is off. It’s this lack of nuance that, helpfully, makes them easy to identify.

So, just to be clear, I’m a prick — but (probably) not an *sshole. Here are the traits that McCammon associates with *ssholes, based on what he calls “hours of reading the rich and burgeoning literature on assholery”:

Narcissism. (I’m the most special of all of you.)
Overconfidence. (I can do anything.)
Impatience. (If I want it, I want it now.)
Aggressiveness. (Get out of my way.)
Recklessness. (Full speed ahead.)
Entitlement. (That’s mine. Because it is.)
Delusion. (Who are you calling an asshole?)
Obliviousness. (Are you crying?)
Also: Utter predictability.

If McCammon is correct — and I think he is — people who are *ssholes “are assholes through and through.” It’s hard for them not to be *ssholes, which I understand. It’s really hard for me not to be a prick. If you’re naturally an *sshole, I’m not saying that you should stop being an *sshole. Be true to yourself. [Editor’s Note: Gratuitous sexually explicit joke removed.]

Again, I’m not saying that you should stop being an *sshole. I’m saying that — if somehow by the grace of the fantasy gods you realize that you are an overconfident, impatient, aggressive, reckless, entitled, delusional, oblivious, predictable narcissist — you might want to try being your full self a little less on social media. Just be a little less of a Twitter tool — which reminds me . . .

If you subscribe to FantasyLabs, you’ll have total access to our full suite of Tools, including our Player Models and Lineup Builder. My favorite fantasy tool is our Trends tool, which leverages our database and proprietary Plus/Minus metric — but my second-favorite fantasy tool is you. Yes, you.

If you actually think that last sentence is about you . . .

  1. You’re so vain.
  2. You probably think that you’re not an *sshole.

P.S. I still love Carly Simon.

More Thoughts on Twitter

Unless you already have a full-time job in fantasy sports — and in some cases maybe even then — you’re probably looking for a job in the industry. And if you have a job and aren’t looking for another one, then you represent the company for which you are fortunate enough to work.

In either scenario, it’s probably not a good idea to be a Twitter douche. It’s possible that there are some people who don’t get hired for fantasy jobs because of how they conduct themselves on social media. On top of that, it’s possible that there are people who lose fantasy jobs because they say the wrong stuff to the wrong people on Twitter. That might sound unfair and backwards, but that’s how business is — and fantasy sports is a business.

If you worked at one company in the ‘real world’ and went to the office of a competing company and told the employees there to go f*ck themselves, not only would you alienate people who otherwise at a later time might’ve given you a better (or any) job but you also would’ve given your current employer a reason to fire you — even if (or especially if) all you have is a part-time job.

Twitter serves a lot of functions in our industry. When you act like a punk and use Twitter as a public slam book, you’re doing yourself (and Twitter) a disservice.

Some Thoughts on Opportunity

People tend to think opportunity is good. It is — but it’s also a double-edged sword cliché. Opportunity can be bad too. Phrased differently: Opportunity is what you make it. More than anything else, Twitter is the purveyor of opportunity. It provides people with an almost limitless number of opportunities to make impressions on other people.

Although each tweet is small, occasionally — and this makes sense if you tweet frequently — individual tweets turn into Black Swans. A tweet that you didn’t put much thought into will be retweeted, liked, and interacted with by hundreds of people. It will receive thousands of impressions. Maybe more.

What this means, in effect, is that no tweet is small, just like for a pitcher no pitch is unimportant. Each tweet has the potential to improve your place in the industry. Each tweet can put you significantly closer to a full-time job. And, conversely, any tweet can ruin your reputation. Any given tweet can get you fired.

Of course, if you lose your job because of a tweet, that one tweet isn’t the reason you lost the job. You are.

How Not to Be a Daily Fantasy Twitter Troll

I’m not Jonathan Bales or Peter Jennings (CSURAM88). I’m not Adam Levitan or a member of Team FantasyLabs. I’m not Fantasy Douche or Shawn Siegele. I’m not Evan Silva or Rich Hribar.

I know that I’m a medium-sized water beast in an ocean with some impressive sharks.

I’m not dissuaded by the fact that I’m not as big in the industry as some other people. Rather, I’m excited that I have the opportunity to grow. I welcome the chance to get better. For me, opportunity is good — because I’m a prick, not an *sshole. If I were an *sshole, then I might mistake myself for a shark, and then, when provoked, the sharks might treat me like chum. And then that’s what I’d be.

There are lots of ways to be an *sshole in the fantasy industry, but one of the most damaging is to be a troll.

I’m not great at Twitter — in fact, I suck at it — but in over four years of being on the site I’ve still managed to avoid a truly acrimonious interaction with anyone. There have certainly been moments. I’ve disagreed with people, and some people have vehemently disagreed with me — and that’s fine; that happens in life and in business — but I’ve never engaged in a Twitter exchange that truly made me look like an *sshole (I think?).

How is that possible?

I save my *sshole-ish moments for email, and I follow five simple rules for how not to be a douche on Twitter. Here they are! — the straightforward rules that will keep you from destroying your fantasy career with social media inanity:

  1. Post almost nothing on Twitter.
  2. Post almost nothing negative on Twitter.
  3. Post almost nothing negative about people who have significantly larger followings than you on Twitter.
  4. Post almost nothing negative about people who are significantly smarter than you and have significantly larger followings than you on Twitter.
  5. Post almost nothing negative about people who are significantly smarter than you and have significantly larger followings than you on Twitter.

No. 4 was worth repeating. But, really, just post almost nothing on Twitter.

Also, retweet this article as much as you want.


The Labyrinthian: 2017.52, 147

Previous installments can be accessed via my author page or the series archive.