Rainn Wilson on Office Jobs from Hell
Rainn Wilson, who graces our cover, plays everybody's favorite workplace irritant on TV's The Office. Now starring in the film comedy The Rocker, Wilson had plenty to say about real-world offices.
On his worst job ever:
I worked at an insurance broker in New York. They gave me "lead cards" that had the name of the person in charge. Like: "Kissinger Associates. Contact: Henry Kissinger." And the phone number.
Why office drones take themselves seriously:
I think it's too many hours under fluorescent lights under pressure.... It's kind of a form of torture. They should take prisoners of war and subject them to a 60-hour workweek at an insurance company in Omaha.
On work-life balance:
I never go home. I'll see my son when he hits puberty. Seriously, you have to make at least one day sacred. Sunday is family day. Nothing gets planned on family day.
On time management:
I'm always having trouble answering e-mails, so I created a file called "write back!" Anytime I get an e-mail I have to reply to, I stick it in there. I haven't actually written back to any people, but they are all in there.
On his most toxic boss:
I was the assistant to the assistant special events coordinator [at a New York charity]. He looked at me and said: "I'm working here because eventually I'm going to work for the NFL." And then, without a trace of irony, he told me: "If I say jump, you say 'how high?'"
On dealing with generational tension at the office:
In a lot of cultures the elders are so well-respected that they're eventually roasted and eaten by the young. That's what I would suggest in the office. The meat might be a little tough.
Which company he would most like to work for:
It would be fun to work for Apple (AAPL)....But I am waiting for Bill Gates to acknowledge the fact that he is my father. I'm suing him for paternity.
Advice for those struggling to make it in their dream careers:
Give up immediately. Move to Phoenix and go into real estate. Seriously, there's a big difference between living your dream and living in denial. You have to [know] where the universe is telling you to go.
Return to the Business @ Work Table of Contents