Ron Swanson's Guide to Management and Meat
When Emmy nominations are announced on July 8, many expect NBC's Nick Offerman to be in the mix for the first time. The character he plays on the sitcom "Parks and Recreation," Ron Swanson, has become a breakout star of the show, now in its third season.
As the head of the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana's Parks and Recreation Department, Swanson's inherent contradiction makes for many of the show's laughs. He's the anti-government crusader who leads the agency charged with organizing community events. Mr. Swanson sat down with AOL Jobs to discuss his favorite topics, like office culture, libertarian philosophy and meat.
You are Ron Swanson, and as the head of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department, you have much experience managing people. How would you describe your style?
Well, in my own situation, I want our operation to perform as poorly as possible. So I require my assistant to be apathetic, unmotivated and rude to all applicants, all of which [my assistant] April exhibits in spades. She's got the whole package. When it comes to managing other people, my policy is don't. And so if those people are never admitted into my office, that answers every question.
What makes for an ideal workspace?
As a libertarian, to each his own. All I can answer is what my preference would be. My preference would be to have a stool in the woods, or a stump. I would have the necessary items at hand to create a lean-to or a simple rain shelter. I would keep a small fire going, for the brewing of stews and teas. I would ask that it would be in a forest of deciduous trees. I prefer them to conifers.
And, if it wouldn't be asking too much, I'd have running water nearby that was redolent of fish.
On that note, I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about your philosophy. Where do you find your inspiration?
When people speak of the good book, I assume they're talking about "Atlas Shrugged." My own personal heroes include Thomas Jefferson. I admire the Jeffersonian ideal of each man and woman being able to be self-sufficient with the land they've been given. It's an agrarian philosophy that fits in well with the libertarian ideal. If you can feed your family and make your clothing and ammunition all out of things you can find on your property, why's there any need to pay a cent to any stiff collar in Washington?
You also have experience juggling love and the workplace. What advice would you give from your own personal experience?
Referring to my ex-wife Tammy, I avoid her at all costs. The question is: How do we keep politics out of the bedroom, on the occasion we happen to be in the bedroom? Politics is the name Tammy gave a weighty hand-carved mahogany paddle I manufactured after our second honeymoon. And it never leaves the bedroom.
Food and beverage is a passion of yours. If given the chance, how would you change the dining options in your department?
I have submitted a menu. I have been told it's going through the rounds of red tape, but that was over six years ago. I expect it should be instituted soon. It was simply a few choices of red meat, whole milk, or for a healthy choice, buttermilk, and bacon in its various forms.
So what about "healthy eating options" like salads and yogurts?
Sounds like someone has a pretty foggy idea of the word "healthy." Sounds like rabbit food and baby food. Unless you are in an office full of rabbits or infants, I suggest you beef it up.
What do you think of the modern worker?
People have become soft working indoors, mainly concerning themselves with computers and word processing, when they could be reaping fruits and grains from the wild as well as berries of every color, not to mention the many great meats that the outdoors has to offer.
And yet technology and computers have become a mainstay of the modern office. I take it you aren't a big fan of social media?
I don't pay any attention it. I think it's a passing fad. In five years, we'll be seeing jokes about these twitters and face pages. Just like now -- how we have jokes about 8-tracks and Beta technology. Unless I want to communicate to the world what color of undershorts I am wearing today, which would be a trick question (the answer is none, no), I can't see what the upside is.
Any final thoughts for the American worker?
It's a tough world. There's a fellow whose books I enjoy greatly, by the name of Charlie Darwin. As he says, look around at your competition, discern their weaknesses and exploit them. Only by becoming the strongest and the fittest can you become the most employedest.Jenn Preissel contributed to this interview.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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