My cousin seems to put a lot of energy into pyramid schemes. I’ve reached the point where I avoid him because he’s always pushing someone else’s product. Don’t get me wrong — I’m all for entrepreneurs, but these schemes aren’t even his ideas. They are just get-rich-quick schemes sold to him. Every year, it’s a different story, everything from gold to hemp. He’s a pretty creative guy, and I would like to know how can I push him to come up with his own ideas and invest in himself?
— No More Pyramid Schemes, Detroit
Dear No More Pyramid Schemes: Do your best to have compassion for your cousin. Yes, he seems to be caught up in what have turned out to be bad ideas, but pyramid schemes do not work for long. Now that you know his M.O., don’t fall prey to him again. Next time he approaches you with something suspicious, immediately express your concerns. Make it known that you do not approve of this idea. Tell him you think any business idea should be vetted by more than your cousin and his boys. Point out that your apprehension should be appealing to him, too, as it may save everybody money.
Suggest to your cousin that if he considers ideas that are not hinged on other people’s dreams without benefit of due diligence to determine their value, he may have a better chance at success.
Dear Harriette: One of my colleagues has a habit of not CC’ing me on important emails because he feels threatened about his job. He has been with the company a little longer than I have, but I have no interest in his job. However, I have a feeling the company wants me to be this person’s backup. It makes sense because, should he leave, the company will have no idea what’s going on in that position. How can I make it clear I need the emails and at the same time make this guy comfortable because I have no interest in his job?
— Just Doing My Job, Sausalito, California
Dear Just Doing My Job: You mention something curious — if this man leaves, the job information will be missing. Do you or your company believe this man is likely to leave? If that is so, your boss needs to handle this man and his communications carefully.
Be direct with your co-worker. Tell him that you simply want to do your job, and that requires you to have copies of his emails. State clearly that you are not interested in his job. You want to do yours, and you need his participation in order to do so.