First thing’s first – Ali G is a Sacha Baron Cohen creation. Before he was wreaking havoc with Borat and Bruno, Cohen came up with the idea for Mr G. Although the majority of people saw him as a blundering buffoon, the reality was entirely different. Created to embarrass his guests, Mr G was an intelligent and satirical character who often got the better of “well respected” and “brilliant” men and women. With that in mind, here are four pieces of advice business owners and managers can take from the show.
1. Project Confidence
Even though interviewees thought he was an idiot, Ali G never let that get him down. Okay, so he didn’t have the smarts to realise he was on the wrong path but forget that for a moment. Whether he was interviewing Donald Trump (yes!) or a Women’s Rights Movement ambassador, he was on the front foot. Sure, it made him come across as someone who didn’t understand the subject matter when you cut through the bull crap. Still, lots of people responded positively and thought, and rightly so, he was the MAN. A lesson for all entrepreneurs out there: confidence is king, aiiight.
2. Respect, Innit
Ali G’s catchphrase was respect, and he wanted people to show him as much as possible. It worked both ways, too, because he doled it out wherever necessary. As a sound bite, there isn’t one which is as relatable or relevant to the industry. When a manager shows employees respect, the team lifts their levels and works harder. When colleagues go on a team building exercise for the weekend, they come back with more respect and a better teamwork ethos. When a company respects its customers and clients, they don’t bounce. Offering respect is a simple gesture yet one which doesn’t often happen in corporate sectors. Well, not unless you’re Prime Minister, Ali G.
3. Follow Orders
Now, any bosses or managers reading this won’t like the idea of following orders. Management doesn’t have to do this because they are the leaders of the business. However, Ali was Prime Minister of an entire country and listened to what others had to say. It was mainly because he had no idea what he was doing, like a particular US president, but he did it nonetheless. Pragmatic and truthful managers should admit they don’t know everything. So, sometimes it’s better to listen to subordinates who have good ideas or delegate the responsibility.
4. Let People Judge
The point of G and all of Cohen’s characters is to highlight injustice and bigotry. He lets people judge and hopes the audience can see the real nature of the figure. This is an essential lesson to learn because people will make judgments, whether rightly or wrongly. The key is not to flip your lid and demand respect because it only emboldens their feelings. No, the trick is to go under the radar and quietly go about your business. Before the competition realises, the firm will be a major player in the game with a solid customer base.
Ali G may play the part of a fool well, but he is anything but. And, it would be foolish for businesses to think they have nothing to learn from the man.