Why I’m Putting The Salesperson With The Lowest Numbers In The New Years Ball

by Hubert Joly, Chariman & CEO Of Best Buy

Napoleon. Alexander the Great. Julius Caesar. These are men who accomplished great things, but also men who did terrible things in order to achieve their aims. Shakespeare told us “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” and we know this to be true. I—know this to be true. These great leaders commanded tens, sometimes hundreds of thousands of other men, and they often had to make difficult decisions. In the men they lead they inspired courage, loyalty — even love. But in order to command respect, they also had to be feared. This meant bringing swiftly down the cudgel of justice upon those who acted cowardly, traitorously, or disobediently.

And that is why, tonight, I am putting the salesperson with the lowest numbers in the New Year’s Ball.

I have thought long and hard about this decision. I have made the proper arrangements; the necessary donations and sponsorships. I have been working closely with the managers of each of our 1,400 locations and am currently having the data compiled. This is a company-wide sales contest, open to all of the 80,000 salespeople we employ. First through 79,999th prize is not being locked inside the New Year’s Ball when it plummets at midnight.

This is a company-wide sales contest. First through 79,999th prize is not being locked inside the New Year’s Ball when it plummets at midnight.

Some people, surely, will conclude by this that I do not care about my employees; about their morale or their well-being. This could not be further from the truth. I care deeply about all of my employees, because my employees and I share this in common: if Best Buy fails, we all fail. Every decision enacted for the good of the company is enacted for the good of those whom it comprises.

Men under the command of the great leaders in whose footsteps I follow faced worse fates for underperforming. Summary execution. Flagellation. Some leaders subjected their own troops to decimation; a form of discipline which required thousands of soldiers to divide into groups of ten, draw lots, and beat to death the one in each group whose fortune failed him.

Compared to this, it hardly seems severe to subject merely the lowest performing among my 80,000 troops to the ordeal I have prepared. I am a fair and a just leader, but I would be a weak leader to let those who fail me elude consequence. Tonight, at midnight, begins the year two thousand sixteen. A ball will drop, and inside the ball will be the terrified employee who failed a multinational consumer electronics corporation. Nobody wants this; nobody would choose to spend their New Year’s Eve inside of any sphere, but—to paraphrase a great film—being safely outside the cold, metal New Year’s Ball at midnight…is for closers.