He’s been called a “morally bankrupt sociopath” and a “garbage monster”. He stands accused of being “everything that is wrong with capitalism”.
Martin Shkreli just can’t seem to stay out of the news these days. He is arguably one of the most recognizable and hated people in the nation – and anything that can add to the trash fire in the “screw you Martin” camp is eagerly and voraciously consumed. Just the other day, he was found guilty of 3 counts of fraud and many people rejoiced.
So the million dollar question is…how come?
In this article we’ll talk about WHY people hate Shkreli with so much gusto…and how you can gain communication skills from his example.
Obviously, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the pharma bro is an epic level douchebag. He personally led a crusade to raise prices on an anti-parasite drug by more than 5,000% in 2015. The price skyrocketed from $13.50 to $750, literally overnight.
It wasn’t because manufacturing costs had increased. It wasn’t because there was a shortage of materials or a laboratory meltdown. Pure and simple…it cam down to getting more money.
This wouldn’t have been so bad. After all, there are other drugs out there that do the same thing, right? People could just switch drugs. The problem was Shkreli’s drug had become the standard of care — and for good reason. It was good at what it did. Competing drugs just weren’t as effective, and when you’re dealing with parasites…you want to go with the sure thing.
…And that put a lot of doctors and patients in a crappy situation. Pay out the nose for something that works? Or gamble with something that might not get the job done.
But there’s more…
In 2016, he bought Wu Tang’s $2 million, one-of-a-kind album. When it was suggested that he should share the album, Shkreli instead threatened to burn it and THEN threatened Wu-Tang Clan’s 47 year old Ghostface Killah.
…And that’s just for starters.
But for all his wrongdoing, Shkreli may not be the worst of the lot.
I mean if you want to talk about Pharmaceutical wrongdoing…Drug giant Pfizer was sued (and later settled) after 11 children died in a clinical trial when the northern state of Kano was hit by Africa’s worst ever meningitis epidemic in 1996. (Though the company denies any wrongdoing.)
Meanwhile Bayer (the Aspirin people) and three other labs will reportedly pay tens of millions of euros to hemophiliacs who accused them of having sold in the 1980s blood products contaminated with HIV. (These companies also denied any wrongdoing)
Nevertheless, there are a great many suggestions of reprehensible behavior from what most people would consider to be household brands.
Yet none of these companies draws the same amount of wrath as everyone’s favorite Pharma Bro. So what gives? Why is Shkreli so freakin easy to hate?
Let’s talk Psychology & Communication
As humans we’re constantly trying to categorize. Every sensory experience gets lumped into a series of mental templates called schema. Schema help us define our world and quickly work out what’s going on. They make it easier for our brains to quickly process information.
After all, if we had to think spherical, dimpled, sweet tree growth every time we saw an orange… instead of just recognizing it for what it was and eating it—-we wouldn’t have gotten very far as a species. Schema make our lives simpler and faster. They’re so effective, we use them for basically everything, including categorizing people.
You can think of each encounter with a person as a data point. One that gets cushioned by communication skills, before getting filed away by your brain and used to determine exactly what kind of person they are. With each encounter, the brain starts to form a stronger (and probably more accurate) picture of who that person is.
Shkreli’s problem then, is twofold.
First, he’s created a feedback loop: one that constantly provides the public with images of him as the villain. He likes being in the news. Any time he plays the douche, people respond with clicks and views. So unsurprisingly, every time you see him…the pharma bro is acting like a giant pile of human turd. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t bother trying to filter what he says…it’s almost as if he strives for arrogance & general unlikeability.
Unlike Bayer or Pfizer, who on occasion, provide relief from your headaches and other ails – thereby forming positive impressions; Shkreli simply doesn’t have ANY of that floating around in the collective conscious. There isn’t a single video of him cuddling a puppy, hugging an orphan, or chatting amicably with old ladies at the mall. So…all that’s left to do, is assume what the available data suggests: Martin Shkreli is a douche.
Second, he has what’s known to the scientific community as “baby face”. That is, he’s got large eyes, round cheeks, and a youthful appearance. What most people don’t understand is that having a baby face means people AUTOMATICALLY and unconsciously make positive assumptions about you.
It’s been proven that those with baby faced features are considered to be more innocent and honest than those with more mature features. Every time Shkreli acts out and plays the villain, it’s a violation of that unconscious trust. A subtle betrayal of the benefit of the doubt. People might not recognize what’s going on, but the unconscious mind DOES — and it reacts with violent rejection.
Add it all up, and suddenly…you have the most hated man in America.
So how do we fix this trainwreck?
Let’s talk communication skills advice. A big part of the Pharma Bro persona is sneering irreverence. It’s what makes Shkreli, to put it in scientific terms: “extremely punchable”. In itself, there’s nothing overtly wrong with this irreverence. Irreverence is the heartbeat of counter culture. It’s by definition, cool.
But as we hinted earlier, Shkreli’s problem isn’t the irreverence, it’s to whom it’s targeted. His victims were the powerless, patients, the elderly — people who don’t have a means to fight back.
That’s where his problems lie. Were this a campaign against the powers that be, against the laws that allowed him to legally manipulate drug prices unimpeded, Shkreli would be a hero.
Is it too late for redemption? Possibly. The man is going behind bars…but people have recovered from worse. The opportunity for Shkreli to pick up the hero mantle still remains…but we aren’t holding our breaths…
Your messages not hitting their mark?
Whether you’re sending out an office email or texting a hot date, it’s embarrassing when people misinterpret what you’ve got to say. It’s not only emotionally draining, but also a waste of time – you wind up spending EVEN more time on damage control when you could be doing ANYTHING ELSE.
If you’ve ever felt like you need to walk on eggshells every time you need to talk to your boss, send out an important email, or send out a flirty text, listen close. This next part is for you:
What most people don’t realize is that problem is an EASY fix. In fact we’ve put together a free 7 COURSE MASTERCLASS just for you that addresses everything from fixing the negative voice in your head to conflict prevention and resolution.
Everything you need to nip miscommunication in the bud.