Don’t Be A Bottom Feeder

bottom feederBefore I go any further, I invite you to think about the definition of “scavenger”: “an animal that feeds on carrion, dead plant material, or refuse; a person who searches for and collects discarded items. When I think of scavengers I think of shellfish or pigs who are bottom feeders, eating the garbage on the ground. In many religions this is why eating shellfish and pork is forbidden because they are bottom feeders and ultimately not clean to eat. I know this specifically from my mother who was raised as a Seventh Day Adventist.

This scavenger hunt was exhausting for me in a variety of ways … the hours of running around became a little tiring. Some of the activities pushed people out of their comfort zones. For me, I was emotionally triggered by one scenario in particular and I still can’t shake it. The task was to take a picture with a red convertible with bonus points for taking a picture IN the red convertible. We quickly found one in a Wal-Mart parking lot. We were so excited. As we got closer to the car, it was pretty apparent that the woman sitting in the car was homeless. The car was filled with her possessions, including a cat who sat on top of a pile of items.

I found myself so uncomfortable in this situation. It felt wrong to disturb someone who appeared to be homeless for our frivolity … and yet that’s exactly what we did. She was gracious and played along with us and we gave her five dollars as a “tip” for playing with us. At the end of the day we learned that two other teams had stumbled upon this woman. One team found her in the drive-thru at Wendy’s. I could only wonder if the money we gave her bought her a meal. When the team approached her she asked what they would give her since another team had “paid” her. They gave her nothing. The third team found her in the parking lot at Wal-Mart again. By this time, she was used to the routine and said “You need a picture?” C’mon. What will you give me?” The third team gave her nothing.

Throughout the day we got more competitive, doing things to get ahead for the purpose of winning. I even overtly “stole” an item (in good fun) out of the hands of another team who was attempting to buy every item available to prevent other teams from acquiring a needed item. We almost sacrificed our own nourishment to keep going in the race to win until two of us said, “We need to eat. We’re going to eat.”

I found all of this “hunting” fascinating. What does all of this say about us as a society and how do these behaviors appear in our businesses (good, bad or indifferent)? Are you a “scavenger” (bottom feeder) in your hunt for business? What came up for me was:

  • Being uncomfortable with asking for things that feel/appear taboo
  • Making assumptions that others are uncomfortable with our requests or “asks”
  • Making assumptions in general about people (was she actually homeless?)
  • Justifying our desires by making concessions that others would not make
  • Conforming to group mind/consensus/norm against our own beliefs/values/integrity
  • Doing whatever it takes to get ahead even if it might negatively impact others

Overall, the game itself was an amazing way to check in with one’s self for a reality check and adjustment to get back in the game of life and business in a way that feels right and authentic. I’m all for hunting in business but I won’t be a “bottom feeder”. I won’t take on clients at any /all costs, especially at the cost of my ethics and integrity. I only want to “hunt” in a way where everyone eventually wins something, which is how our game ended at our party – everyone was a winner of something, even the woman in the convertible.

By Gina Trimarco, Chief Results Officer


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