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Najib’s 4-Step Guide To Reinventing Yourself & The Art of Failing Upwards

Sometimes in life, we get caught in a pickle. Whether we live to fight another day depends on how we mitigate the damning questions in life. We examine Najib’s ninja skills to life’s tough questions.

 

Najib’s 4-Step Guide To Reinventing Yourself & The Art of Failing Upwards

How To Persevere And Answer Life’s Tough Questions When Everyone Wants You To Fail

COMMENTARY | BY JONATHAN LEONG | 4TH JULY 2019

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From non-profits to publicly listed companies…history is littered with the corpses of former titans who succumbed to scandal or natural decline. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak found himself in hot soup over alleged mismanagement of Malaysia’s 1mdb financial investment fund, which resulted in an international scandal spawning tabloid reports revolving around its ‘advisor’ Jho Low, features on how his wife Rosman owned hundreds of Hermes Birkin Bags, and stories of stock piles of cash in Najib-linked apartments.

Despite the heat, Najib has somehow managed to stay afloat. We’ve condensed his exploits and examine how he’s managed to rebrand himself and even troll the media by becoming an Internet Meme.

Step 1: Never Admit Defeat Or Responsibility Directly

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How Najib Fares Compared To Other Disgraced Leaders:

When Enron (a previous revered organisation in America) fell due to a apocalyptic-sized accounting scandal, their CEO Ken Lay (who was once worth more than $220 million) had this to say:

“I have to take responsibility for anything that happened within its businesses…but I can't take responsibility for criminal conduct of somebody inside the company” - Ken Lay, Ex-CEO of fallen firm Enron

From an outsider view Ken Lay’s reply to his charges sounds rather rational and seems to effectively distance himself from the criminal wrongdoing that contributed to Enron’s downfall. Post scandal however, portfolio ranked Ken Lay as the “third-worst American CEO of all time”.

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Lay later died of a heart attack in 2006 three months before he was scheduled to be sentenced. Poor chap probably couldn’t even take the strain and wasn’t looking forward to retiring in prison. His body gave up the ghost, under all the shame, pressure and public scrutiny.

Najib Razak however, proved his detractors wrong due to his cockroach-like ability to live to fight another day. Unlike Ken Lay whom we can consider to have faced the same level of scrutiny post scandal, Najib simply refused to roll over and disappear from existence.

Instead, he started to sing…

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While the prosecution declared that they had an “almost iron-clad case against the former politician”, Najib’s trial fell to constant delay due to some “legal technicalities” much to the frustration of his detractors.

Najib was also quick with his words, distancing himself from the 1mdb scandal with public statements such as the following:

I am saying as a general principle, if they are in the know that something is not right, then it is incumbent upon them to tell me.
— Najib Razak, former Prime Minster of Malaysia

Bizarrely despite all the circus frenzy surrounding the scandal this was the result:

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Thus, Najib manages to live another day, continuing his crusade to rebrand himself.

 

Step 2: Become Your Own Media Machine

Najib wins the crowd over with jet skiing prowess and his new positioning as an Influencer.

Najib wins the crowd over with jet skiing prowess and his new positioning as an Influencer.

Unlike most politicians who are often caught off-guard with awkward quotes and answers that seem to dig their own graves…Najib knows how to take charge of the online narrative by endlessly trolling his opponents, the media and artfully curates his new existence: doing ‘normal people stuff’ such as jet skiing, eating with his supporters and praying.

Following the recent delay of his trial…Najib has turned accusations that he is a ‘thief’ to his own advantage – by rebranding himself as a ‘thief of hearts’ and transforming himself into a man of the people
— The Conversation
Najib thinking about the people while on a boat.

Najib thinking about the people while on a boat.

Najib entertains his followers offline and posing for selfies.

Najib entertains his followers offline and posing for selfies.

While most politicians struggle to output good online content for their personal brands, Najib has left most of his competition in the dust…amassing more than 3million followers on social media. He shares lighthearted anecdotes from his life, such as working out in the gym and riding on a light motorbike - a popular mode of transportation amongst Malaysian youth.

Najib poetically links life’s struggles to the act of surmounting a river whilst riding in a badass looking 4x4 off-road vehicle.

Najib poetically links life’s struggles to the act of surmounting a river whilst riding in a badass looking 4x4 off-road vehicle.

Najib hits the gym, inspiring his followers with some morning positivity and motivation.

Najib hits the gym, inspiring his followers with some morning positivity and motivation.

Najib has a new nickname “BOSSKU” - take that haters.

Najib has a new nickname “BOSSKU” - take that haters.

 

Step 3) Enjoy The Simple Things In Life & Build Rapport

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Most social media influencers tend to stick to a tightly curated online persona complete with multiple trips to exotic locations, a flow of branded items #blessed, and images of them in first/or business class #grateful.

Not Najib, as part of his new brand he rides coach on planes, tours the supermarket with an empty trolley to examine the ‘rising cost of living’ with his followers and often poses for photos with commoners, smiling youth or young children - because #ChildrenAreTheFuture

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Politicians often seem serious and stately, not Najib…he’s always ready to bust out some moves, after-all life is should be like one long party and the world is your dance-floor.

Politicians often seem serious and stately, not Najib…he’s always ready to bust out some moves, after-all life is should be like one long party and the world is your dance-floor.

Najib’s wife Rosman, who has had her fair share of bad press revolving around her excessive luxury bag collection has been carefully ‘curated out’ from Najib’s many public appearances….

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And to bring things full circle, no new brand turnaround is complete without a trip to the hospital to visit the less fortunate:

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Step 4: Take Selfies With Your Cat

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You know what never goes wrong? Cats.

No matter your previous sins, real, alleged or imagined…once you pose with your cute cat or just upload photos of your pussy, you have a 70% chance of becoming more likeable. Just look at these pictures:

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Najib has his pulse on pop culture, he astutely displays his up-to-date knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a photo of his cat while hash-tagging #CaptainMarvel:

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Taking a leaf from the playbook of many popular cat-based instagram accounts on the internet, Najib hams things up by slowly eroding his audience’s image of him as an allegedly corrupt politician one cat picture at a time…

Oh…and his cat’s name is Kiky.

When your pet has a name like that, there’s no reason to hate.

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JONATHAN LEONG | HEAD OF CONTENT

Jonathan Leong is a digital content strategist and internet culture aficionado. Prior to working in the online content space, he worked in marketing/advertising for clients such as Nike, MTV, New Balance, Tiger Beer, UBS and the Economic Development Board of Singapore. You can follow his meme account on
instagram. He also occasionally makes art.