History’s Infamous 5: Lessons Freelancers Can Learn From Them

Mao Tse Tung, Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Kim Jong-il all have something in common. Each of them has affected the lives of many people, largely in a negative manner. However, these 5 political leaders can offer us something else besides negativity, overt control and extreme political views and beliefs.

The History Infamous 5


History is there for us to learn from past mistakes so that we can absorb the good and avoid the bad. If we view them objectively without pre-judgement, they have led rather incredible lives and achieved quite a large undertaking; although their methods of achieving their goals are highly questionable.

As freelancers, more often than not, we too must make harsh decisions that force us to set aside our nice-guy personality and push forward regardless. The 5 political leaders this article will take a look at are mostly dictators and interestingly, I believe that ‘dictator’ is a word that best describes us freelancers as well. We are our own dictators. We make hard decisions that push us to go beyond our comfort zone so that we can advance forward and reach our ultimate goals.

Looking beyond the superficial, let’s study each individual and learn how we can apply the positive aspects of their philosophy and their good work habits.

The Infamous 5: History’s Most Controversial Leaders

Please be aware that the article’s intent is not to promote or influence anyone to accept their beliefs but to objectively explore that part of history and to see what we can gain from it.

Mao Tse Tung

Held in high regard, Mao Tse Tung is seen as a great revolutionary, political strategist, military mastermind, and savior of China. A controversial figure, his is a contentious and ever-evolving legacy.

Many Chinese believe that through his policies, he helped to build the foundations of modern China in terms of the economic, technological and cultural aspects of the country. It is because of him that the country was able to transform from an agrarian society to the major world power it is becoming today.

Mao Tse Tung
Image credit: marmotfotos

Learning Point

Reflecting upon the guerrilla roots of Maoism which sprung from the need to build support in the countryside against Japanese occupation and the emphasis on the need to win over the ‘hearts and minds’ of the people through ‘education’. We can apply Mao’s beliefs in the way we deal with our clients; to win over their ‘hearts and minds’ through ‘education’.

We should educate our clients and teach them the need to embrace new or specific technology to complete and produce excellent work. Also remember that by building a good relationship and ensuring support from all our clients, we will be able to sustain ourselves in the long run.

Saddam Hussein

Former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein held his position from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. A leading member of the revolutionary Ba’ath Party, he played a key role in the 1968 coup that brought the party to long term power. The Ba’ath Party espoused secular pan-Arabism, economic modernization, and Arab socialism.

Under Saddam’s government, Iraq broke out of the consternation of Islamic conservatives and helped give women added freedom and offered them a chance to take on high-level civil and industry jobs. He also created a Western-style legal system making Iraq the only country in the Persian Gulf region that is not ruled according to the traditional Islamic Law.

Saddam established and controlled the “National Campaign for the Eradication of Illiteracy” and the campaign for “Compulsory Free Education in Iraq”. The government also established free schooling up to the highest education levels and helped thousands in his country learn to read in the years following the initiation of the program. His belief that education and constant upgrading is a key component to progress was his most positive contribution during his control of Iraq.

Saddam Hussein
Image credit: ethiosudanese

Learning Point

Saddam’s focus and contribution through the compulsory free education in Iraq is his way of trying to modernize and improve Iraq. We freelancers must also constantly upgrade and improve our skills so that we can keep up with the world’s standards and continue to survive in this cut-throat and competitive industry. It is only with our own determination and through self motivation to continue learning that we will improve and make our mark in the industry.

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler is a name that is widely known. Leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party abbreviated NSDAP in 1921, the party was commonly known as the Nazi Party. He gained support by promoting German nationalism, anti-Semitism, anti-capitalism, and anti-communism with his charismatic oratory abilities and propaganda. Appointed chancellor in 1933, he quickly transformed the Weimar Republic into the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship based on the totalitarian and autocratic ideas of national socialism.

His achievement and political advancement could not have been possible if not for the fact that he was a gifted orator. He captivated his believers with his emotional speeches, his beating of the lectern and growling. His passion and blind belief in his own words inspired others to believe him as well. However, this gift of speech had to be developed over time and with much practice.

He honed his skills by giving speeches to soldiers during 1919 and 1920. He perfected his delivery by rehearsing in front of mirrors and even went to the extent of choreographing his display of emotions and eventually, he became an expert at giving impassioned speeches. It is said that Hitler was above all else, an actor; and a great one at that.

Adolf Hitler
Image credit: gargsuni

Learning Point

A master of negotiation, a very effective communicator, and influential speaker, Hitler was able to talk his way into getting whatever he wanted. Freelancers also have to master the skills of good negotiation so that they are able to deal with clients. It is difficult to come to a compromise when the two parties involved have vastly different agendas and priorities.

The trick of brilliant negotiation is to ensure that you are able to get what you want without offending the client or allowing them to feel cheated or bullied into the end result you want. You must first understand your client and their personality so that you can work your way around them to get your desired result. Practice like Hitler on how to convince your clients and be sure to truly believe in what you are proposing so that you might inspire them to trust in you and believe as well.

Joseph Stalin

A man responsible for many deaths and atrocities in the Soviet Union, now known as Russia, Joseph Stalin was the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union’s central committee. He held the post from 1922 and subsequently became the leader of the Soviet Union in 1924 until his death in 1953. During the period he was in power, he launched a command economy replacing the New Economic Policy of the 1920s. He introduced the concept of Five-Year Plans in the hopes that it will help the Soviet Union undergo rapid industrialization and economic collectivization.

Stalin’s Five-Year Plan substantially helped to modernize the previously backward Soviet economy. Through his Five-Year Plans new products were developed, and the scale and efficiency of existing production greatly increased. Some innovations were based on indigenous technical developments, while others were based on imported foreign technology. Despite its high costs, the industrialization effort allowed the Soviet Union the ability to fight and ultimately win the Second World War with the rest of the Allies.

Joseph Stalin
Image credit: i.telegraph

Learning Point

Making important decisions is part and parcel of a freelancer’s livelihood. Often, the decisions you make regarding the projects you have today will impact future potential projects as well. Learning from Stalin’s eye for foresight, freelancers should think ahead and have their own five-year plan to better themselves. Before you embark on your own drawn up five-year plan, be sure to know what goal you want to achieve first. Set high but achievable and realistic goals. Then work out how to get to that end point you want to achieve over the course of the next five years and do a yearly evaluation to ensure you are always on track of your five-year plan.

Kim Jong il

Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-il of North Korea, also known as Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, succeeded his father, the founder of North Korea. Commanding the fourth largest standing army in the world, Kim Jong-iI is officially referred to as the “Dear Leader” and the “Great Leader”.

North Korea’s highly secretive nature is a result of Kim Jong-il’s policies and beliefs. North Korea has little contact with other nations and has almost cut off all foreign relationships. He wishes to ensure that his country and its people stay focused and whole heartedly follow his lead without concern about how others view him or his methods of doing things.

Kim Jong II
Image credit: independent

Learning Point

Charging forward regardless of what others might think of you is also something we might learn from the example of Kim Jong-il. Being a freelancer is not an easy career path. Others might put you down and mock your choices and decisions. However, do not take into account their negativity and push forward by putting your heart and soul into whatever decisions you’ve made.

Every major company has a confidentiality clause written into their important contracts, even with their employees. It is included to protect the interests of the company, its secrets and its projects. Of course we should not go to extremes and be excessively harsh and secretive. However, we have to protect ourselves and our clients and ensure that ongoing projects should not have information or details leaked out before they are ready to be released.

History and the Lessons We Can Learn

These 5 infamous individuals have made their mark on history. Their views are extreme and callous and some prefer to move on and to brush them aside. However we should take the positive lessons we can learn from them and use them to our advantage.

What else do you think we can learn from them? Share your thoughts with us in the comment box below and let us know what you think about these learning points we can pick up from these 5 political leaders.