Author Interview // Richie Frieman
Published on September 25, 2013
For years now, I have been a weekly listener of the “Modern Manners Guy,” a podcast that offers advice on how to best tackle many of modern life’s most awkward moments with wit and humor. Richie Frieman, the man behind the podcast (and Richmond native), has just released a new book titled Reply All . . . and Other Ways To Tank Your Career. In the book, Frieman interviews dozens of CEOs, entrepreneurs, celebrities, and tastemakers to get the pros' take on workplace challenges and faux pas (hitting reply all to an e-mail, dealing with annoying co-workers, navigating an office party) that we may inevitably encounter. We caught up with Richie to learn more about the book and his many projects.
You are more commonly known as the Modern Manners Guy, can you tell us about the column and podcast?
The column, Modern Manners Guy, is managed by the Quick and Dirty Tips Network, which has a number of content contributors including Grammar Girl, Get-Fit Guy, and Get-It-Done Guy. My role as the Modern Manners Guy is to offer manners and etiquette advice for all situations, whether it’s family, relationships, inside an office setting, or with your friends. Modern Manners is not your typical white glove-wearing, silk napkin kind of column. People often think that manners and etiquette may be a snobbish topic to cover, but I like to offer advice with a bit of tongue-in-cheek and humor. My philosophy in life is that you need to laugh, and I try to bring laughter into every situation, especially with manners and etiquette.
For your first complete book on etiquette, why did you feel like was necessary to focus on the workplace?
When establishing our professions, we all make the same mistakes. Anyone who thinks they’re going to walk in -- whether they’re 22, 32, or 62 -- and say they aren’t going to put their foot in their mouth at least once, you’re fooling yourself. The concept of the book was not only to tell people how to prepare and avoid for awkward situations in the office, but to hear it from people who have been there and have climbed to top, regardless of their age.
I interviewed high-level CEOs and entrepreneurs – Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder of Warby Parker; Barbra Corcoran, real estate mogul and Shark Tank panelist; Jamie and Lyndon Cormack, Founders of Herschel Supply Co.; Rob Samuels, Maker’s Mark COO – people I’ve admired for years and asked them be a part of the book. I asked them what bothered them the most when in an office setting. These are the things that you rarely get a chance to hear about. I was always fascinated by this and I wanted to get their stories out. The book is filled with a lot of humor and laughter and things that point out all the wackiness that we go through.
How did you choose the title for your most recent book release?The reason why we chose Reply All as the title is because nearly everyone has hit “reply all” at least once in their life when they shouldn’t have. There may have been something in the email that wasn’t intended for everyone to read, and when you hit reply all, you can’t take it back. You’re stomach drops, and that feeling, you never forget. “Reply all” is kind of the new vernacular of saying . . . yeah I screwed up. After this happens, you might want to take a step back, take a look at these actions and figure out a way to do it better next time.
The book, as well as the Modern Manners Guy column features many awkward situations, have you experienced many of these encounters first hand?
I love awkward situations, although time can’t go by fast enough when I’m in them. For nearly every awkward moment, there are two outcomes -- inspiration for an article, and always something to learn or gain from it. I would say about 85-90% of the things I write about are things that I’ve witnessed first hand. The other situations come from friends, or relatives that may have experienced something. Whether I’ve been in them or people who are close to me, they’re all incredibly relatable things.
You were once a professional wrestler. Were you as gracious in the ring as you are in real life?
I wasn’t doing Modern Manners Guy at the time . . . although this would have made a great gimmick. The world of professional wrestling is very close knit community, and even though wrestling looks like a bunch of big sweaty guys throwing each other around, it’s an industry that is decades old with a rich history. If you go against the grain and you’re known as a guy who is disrespectful to the industry or to the other guy in the ring, things can go from friendly to ugly very quickly. My wrestling character was not a rude guy by any means, but I had to be a bad guy a couple of times -- I’d go down to the ring, yell, scream and make fun of people, but it was as if I was an actor on a TV show. In the ring, I was somebody totally different than I was in real life, but I always made sure I was doing things the right way. Outside of the ring, all of us were very cordial with each other.
On a final note, is there one overarching rule to make the office more enjoyable between colleagues?
I think the big one is simple -- don’t be a jerk. It’s a matter of leaving your ego at the door. A lot of the issues come up when someone thinks they know more than somebody, thinks they can do everything better, and are headstrong with becoming the guy/girl at the top for all the wrong reasons. If you’re a good worker, it will show. You don’t have to be so telling of how awesome you are to everyone.
Reply All . . . and Other Ways to Tank Your Career is now available on Amazon.com and keep up with Richie on the Modern Manners Guy Facebook page. Be on the lookout for Richie’s guest posts on our blog in the upcoming months.