Readings — From the June 2008 issue

Breathing Is for Closers

From a lawsuit filed in January by Chad Hudgens against Joshua Christopherson and Prosper, Inc., a motivational-coaching firm based in Utah. Hudgens, who worked at Prosper as a salesman under Christopherson’s supervision, quit last year.

Joshua Christopherson intentionally engaged in physically and emotionally abusive conduct for the express purpose of increasing the productivity of his team. He patrolled the work area carrying a large wooden paddle that he routinely struck on tables and desktops in close proximity to team members. He would remove the chairs of employees who did not meet the company’s performance goals, or he would draw mustaches on their faces with permanent marker. Prosper management knew of this conduct and encouraged it because Christopherson was one of the company’s top income producers.

On May 29, 2007, Christopherson asked for volunteers for a new motivational exercise but did not say what the exercise was. In an effort to prove his loyalty and determination to Christopherson and the company, Chad Hudgens volunteered. Christopherson marched the entire team to the top of a hill outside the office. He told Hudgens to lie down with his head facing downhill and ordered the other team members to hold Hudgens by the arms and legs. Christopherson then slowly poured a gallon jug of water over Hudgens’s mouth and nostrils in an exercise more commonly known as waterboarding. Christopherson directed the team members to hold Hudgens down even though he was struggling to escape. At the end of the demonstration, Christopherson told the team to work as hard at making sales as Hudgens had worked to breathe.

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