You have to be real careful when you mess with folks at the top, because when the war is over, you’ll need these guys real quick. Ninety-nine percent of people just doing what they’re told — you couldn’t find half a brain among all of them. But the ones with the brains — don’t let them go.
There’s two kinds of brains you need to run a good business. Sometimes you need “Sleepy Heads.” You know, the ones who pick up the money from the crews; the ones who make sure everyone got ammo; the ones who just do their job, don’t cause no trouble. Then you need bona fide Killers. The Killers like watching you bleed to death while they are eating a plate of ham and collard greens. You understand?
See, by the time there’s a crisis, the Sleepy Heads are already gone. They’re the ones who keep the books, so they know where the money is, and they know when trouble starts. So they usually get out first. But at this point, in most of these companies, all you got left is the Killers. They’re the ones who like hanging around, who ain’t got no home life, who just love the blood, and the guts, who love the pain!
Never lose your killers. Never let them go, because you’ll need them when things gets better. You can always get the Sleepy Heads back. They’re hiding under a rock anyway. But the Killers! Those folks are hard to find, so you got to give up the money. Pay the ones at the top, the one’s who like to smell blood. Let the Sleepy Heads go, but keep the Killers.
The real key to working with Killers is that you have to destroy one of them, just for show. Because as much as they like to see their enemies in pain, they love to see one of their own bleed even more. … If you want to keep them hungry, kill one of them just for fun.
--Former drug dealers, Freakonomics blog, defending the bonuses at AIG