In a society where there is a huge gap between the peasants and the bourgeois, it is not difficult to understand why the masses would rally behind the underdog. At this point, feelings of spite or envy would pale because we would all be fighting the common cause: Lift up the common man. For if we see him up there, it feels as though we made it up there too. We have struck a blow against the wielders of opulence.
I never bothered with the Big Brother show but due to the furore it created, I noticed. The reality show which was aired across the continent live-streamed for three months. We all know the details of the show.
The criteria for selection I didn’t bother with but there seemed to be a healthy mix of people from different backdrops. Some are from humble beginnings and it was obvious that a couple came into town suckling on radishes. At some point in the show, BB introduced a player. She was instantly famous. While some were taken aback by her person others were intrigued at her which made them fans. I observed this from afar with keen interest. I had never been interested in the show but the online drama tugged at me. If you’ve got a writer’s blood then you’ve got the bug. I proceeded to observe the online drama and the persona of the duo…or trio.
Fast forward to the end where Efe emerged victorious. This scenario got me thinking about successful underdogs in the industry. Some traits of underdogs include:
- They have everything to prove
- They have got nothing to lose
- Underdogs evoke empathy from their kind
- They are very dangerous. Top players have to be wary
John Edgar Hoover was born on New Year’s Day 1895 in Washington, D.C., to Anna Marie (née Scheitlin; 1860–1938), who was of Swiss-German descent, and Dickerson Naylor Hoover, Sr. (1856–1921), who was of English and German ancestry. Hoover’s maternal great-uncle, John Hitz, was a Swiss honorary consul general to the United States. He was the closest to his mother in the family, who was the family’s moral guide and disciplinarian. Hoover did not have a birth certificate filed upon his birth, although it was required in 1895 Washington. Two of his siblings had certificates, but Hoover’s was not filed until 1938 when he was 43.
Hoover grew up near the Eastern Market in Washington’s Capitol Hill neighborhood and attended Central High School, where he sang in the school choir, participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, and competed on the debate team. During debates, he argued against women getting the right to vote and against the abolition of the death penalty. The school newspaper applauded his “cool, relentless logic.” Hoover stuttered as a boy, which he overcame by teaching himself to talk quickly—a style that he carried through his adult career. He eventually spoke with such ferocious speed that stenographers had a hard time following him.
- Edgar Hoover, was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. He was appointed as the sixth director of the Bureau of Investigation — predecessor to the FBI — in 1924 and was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972, aged 77. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a larger crime-fighting agency than it was at its inception and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.
Later in life and after his death, Hoover became a controversial figure as evidence of his secretive abuses of power began to surface. He was found to have exceeded the jurisdiction of the FBI, and to have used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten sitting presidents. According to biographer Kenneth Ackerman, the notion that Hoover’s secret files kept presidents from firing him is a myth. However, Richard Nixon was recorded as stating in 1971 that one of the reasons he did not fire Hoover was that he was afraid of reprisals against him from Hoover.
According to President Harry S. Truman, Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force. Truman stated: “we want no Gestapo or secret police. The FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail. J. Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him.”
President Lyndon Baines Johnson would later say about him:
“It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”
He understood how dangerous the underdog was and made an ally out of him.
You see a CEO when asked what he considered his greatest threat, he responded by saying I am not afraid of the big guys, but the boy sitting with a computer in his garage. You see, historically, people from disadvantaged backgrounds have gone on to prove their mettle despite obvious limitations.
Moral: Never underestimate the underdog.