7 Career Lessons We Can Learn From Serial Killer Charles Manson

03/16/2017 11:18 pm ET Updated Mar 18, 2017
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Unlike certain questions people ask me, such as what my favorite color is (red) or favorite dessert (s’mores and pie), I never get asked who my favorite serial killer is. If I were to get asked such a question, I imagine I would smile sweetly, sway side to side and say, in a sing-song voice, “Charles Manson.”

Now, I am not interested in joining his Family, nor am I advocating that he is a good person. On the contrary, he is an evil borderline genius. The man couldn’t pass seventh grade, but he managed to get multiple people at his disposal to devote their life to carrying out his message. These people killed for him, and he didn’t have to lift a finger or engage in the dirty work.

With the latter point, I say this: there is certainly something beneficial to learn from Manson, to be utilized in every day life. In fact, there are quite a few things. Here is how to incorporate Manson tactics to succeed in your career.

1. Find Your Passion

If you find your passion, you’ll find your mission. Manson’s hobbies included playing and listening to music. Through the latter of the two, Manson felt British band The Beatles were talking to him, particularly in the song “Helter Skelter” off their 1968 White Album. Manson interpreted this song to be a message about a race war pitting blacks against whites. This would result in blacks surviving and soon becoming enslaved by Manson and his family, who remained safe in hiding during said war.

Thus, it became his mission to put this plan to work. When you become passionate about your mission, you make things happen.

2. Make Connections

Although his music was rejected from record labels, Manson befriended Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson, whose house was a temporary sanctuary for Manson and his Family. Funny enough, the Beach Boys recorded a song called “Never Learn Not to Love”, a song adapted by Wilson. Originally by Mason, it was titled “Cease to Exist”. Guns N’ Roses also covered Mason original “Look at Your Game, Girl”, which can be found on their 1993 album The Spaghetti Incident?

Through his connections, Manson did have his music heard, though not in the way he fathomed. The moral of the story is that connections can bring your goals to life in some way, shape or form.

3. Delegate

Manson wasn’t directly involved in the murders – there was literally no blood on his hands. Instead, he was found guilty of seven counts of murder by proxy, although there is rumored to be as much as 35 or more.

Through the use of drugs such as LSD as well as various orgies and mind games, Manson was able to have others truly understand his message and convince them wholeheartedly to follow him. This included abandoning their former lives, possessions and, you know, do a little killing here and there.

What is the lesson learned here? When tasks become too overwhelming at hand, have your coworkers help you out. Find out what entices them, and use that to move your project forward.

4. Stand Out From the Rest

Aside from carving a damn Swastika on his forehead (Not a good look for LinkedIn, honestly), Manson is unlike any serial killer to date. From his band of loyal followers to his penchant to deciphering music a certain way, and even the violent crimes themselves, Manson provides various reasons why he is still talked about decades later.

Tate-LaBianca prosecuter and Helter Skelter author Vincent Bugliosi said it best: “Not only were the murders he ordered the type one doesn’t even see in horror movies, but Manson, like no other mass murderer of this century, has added a shivering new dimension to the fright quotient—his diabolical and singular talent for getting others, without asking any questions, to kill complete strangers for him at his command.”

Bugliosi also writes, “To the extremists, mass murderers like Josh Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer are no more intriguing than they are to the average citizen…Manson and his murders, on the other hand, are downright hip to the extremists.”

In short, stand out from the competition by being original and, if appropriate, extreme.

5. Know Your Audience

One of the major points of success in one’s career is to know the audience the company’s product or service is intended for. And while Manson had a rather ambitious yet broad one he wanted to reach (aka the world), he succeeded in knowing how to gather his main audience, the Family.

He sought young people in their late teens and early twenties who already had the propensity to kill, and a track record of leaving their families. To attract motorcyclist gang the Straight Satans as well as other men for protection at Spahn Ranch, Manson lured them in with what they wanted: sex. With plenty of uninhibited young women thanks to Manson’s aforementioned tactics, the men got what they wanted, and Manson briefly did as well. Talk about a win-win.

6. Follow Through

Manson stated his goal, and took moves to make it happen. The same could be said for projects or even certifications in your career: figure out what you want, and write out a plan to make it happen. This could be in an outline form or a work breakdown structure (WBS).

Consider all variables and make realistic goals – the latter Manson didn’t quite take into consideration. If you promise to get something done for your department or supervisor, follow through as well.

7. Love What You Do

This is a no brainer. Manson loved being a cult leader and he loved spreading his message. Do you want to manage people? Is there a change you want to see in your company?

As stated before, find your passion, and make it your mission. Just don’t try to kill anyone over it.

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