by Matt Gwin & Alexander To
We hear a lot about the Founding Fathers every Fourth of July, with stories, tributes, and trivia about their lives. But here at Vocatio, we’re asking the important questions: if the Fathers were alive today and worked in your office, what role would they have? And what office archetypes would they fill?
Benjamin Franklin: Sales Rep | “The High Performing Party Animal”
Benjamin Franklin did a little bit of everything in his lifetime, and was pretty good at just about all of it. He was an inventor, scientist, writer, newspaper editor, diplomat, university founder, governor, and, of course, one of the shapers of the American system as we know it. He was unceasingly charismatic and charming, knew how to understand others’ needs, and had a way of getting people to do what he wanted, which, if he worked in your office, would make him perfect for Sales. He was also a prolific jokester and had a love for libations. He’d be that guy in your office that spends so much time pulling pranks and talking about his hangover that you wonder how he still manages to flat-out outperform everyone else.
John Adams: Consultant | “The Critic”
If the 2nd President of the United States was alive today and worked in your office, he’d make a hell of a Consultant. Adams was an organizational thinker and a true visionary who had great forethought in helping develop the American system. He also didn’t mince words and wasn’t afraid to offend people by telling them their ideas were bad. Sometimes he may have been a little over-the-top with his negativity, which would make him “the Critic” in your office. Never satisfied and always quick to point out when someone’s work could be better, he’s sure to rub people the wrong way. But easier-going of coworkers may find him hilarious, as some of his insults are fantastic.
Alexander Hamilton: Business Analyst | “The String-puller”
Hamilton was effective guy. He could quickly evaluate processes and systems and instantly see how they could be improved and optimized. He shaped the nation’s financial system. He wrote two-thirds of the Federalist Papers, anticipating, addressing, and rebutting potential concerns that critics might have with the new Constitution, and showing why and how the new federalist system–although vastly different than what most people were familiar with–would be much better in the long run. If he worked in your office, this would make him the world’s best Business Analyst–understanding systems and structures, analyzing them, predicting downstream results, and recommending the best course of action. He also had a knack for gaining influence greater than that of his official title. In the military, he quickly managed to get General Washington’s ear and become his trusted right-hand man. During Adams’ presidency, the Cabinet was known to listen to Hamilton more than the President. And in the 1804 election, he swung the favor of the House to get Jefferson elected over Burr. In the office, he’d be the one that seems to always have the ear of the bosses and pull the strings whether they know he’s doing so or not.
Aaron Burr: (another) Business Analyst | “The Jealous One”
Ah, the notorious Aaron Burr. On paper, Burr led a very successful life–he was a Revolutionary War officer, a successful lawyer, a Senator, an the Vice President. But he was also a bit unhinged, and was an incredibly jealous and spiteful man, especially toward Hamilton, his political rival who always seemed to be doing similar things, but a little better (and who had used his influence to secure Jefferson the presidency over Burr, and later to support Burr’s opponents for the New York governorship). If he was in your office, he’d also be a Business Analyst, but just a slightly worse one than Hamilton. He’d be the jealous, insecure, petty one in the office, always trying to make sure people recognized his achievements but never being taken seriously.
Gouverneur Morris: Copywriter | “The Know-it-all”
Gouverneur Morris, one of the more forgotten founding fathers (so much so that no one even knows how he pronounced his name), was known as the “Wordsmith” of the Constitution. He wrote the Preamble to the Constitution (“We the people…”), and was responsible for much of the phrasing and wording within the rest of the document. If he were to work in your office, this knack for always finding the best words would make him a heck of a copywriter. If he can craft messages to make the people of 13 separate and suspicious colonies accept a strong central united government, he can surely craft messaging to make people do just about anything. Being a walking dictionary, though, would also make him a little unbearable as that guy that always corrects your use of a word. (“Excuse me, it’s actually ‘piqued’ your interest, not ‘peaked.’”)
Thomas Jefferson: Graphic Designer | “The Quiet Genius”
TJ accomplished a great deal in his lifetime. He was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, the first Secretary of State, and the 3rd President. He orchestrated the Louisiana Purchase, which nearly doubled the United States’ territory. He was also, however, quite reserved and disliked public speaking. John Adams wrote in 1776, “I sat with him in Congress, I never heard him utter three sentences together.” And Jefferson himself, writing about an encounter with a girl he’d been crushing on for over a year, ““I was prepared to say a great deal…in as moving language as I know how…But, good God! when I had an opportunity of venting them, a few broken sentences, uttered in great disorder, and interrupted with pauses of uncommon length, were the too visible marks of my strange confusion.”
A brilliant and productive person, but not very gregarious, if Jefferson worked in your office he’d have a job that let the results speak for themselves–graphic design. In his time, Jefferson was a trained architect, and influenced the designs of various US Government, Virginia government and University of Virginia buildings, so we know he had a visual mind and a love for design. He’d be that person in the office who is secretly good at everything and does incredible things in his spare time, but you only find out about them from other people.
James Madison: Public Relations | the “Excessive Emailer”
If James Madison worked in your office, public relations would be a great fit. He was a prolific and skilled writer, and always seemed to be prepared ahead of time. He showed up to the second Constitutional Convention having already written a draft (the “Virginia Plan”), and then after they finished the new Constitution (based heavily on his plan), he wrote the Federalist Papers along with Hamilton to preemptively rebut criticisms or concerns of the new document.
Unfortunately, his love for frequent and lengthy writing would also make him the Excessive Emailer in your office–taking every chance available to write long and flowing treatises to the whole office when a simply reply would have sufficed.
John Jay – Human Resources | “the Moral Compass”
John Jay is perhaps best known as the United States’ first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but he was also Secretary of Foreign Affairs before that and the Governor of New York after. He brokered the Treaty of Paris and the Jay Treaty, ending and preventing wars with Britain. Jay was firm in his convictions–he was one of the strongest abolitionists of his time, and was steadfast in maintaining judicial independence during his time as Chief Justice when members of the executive and legislative branches would ask for his endorsements or support. If he worked in your office, he’d make a solid Human Resources Generalist. In his capacities as a diplomat, executive, and judge, he had ample opportunities to evaluate talent and appoint or hire people. He was also well-respected and well-regarded by everyone and did his best to stay out of squabbles and rivalries. In your office, he’d be the one that everyone looks to for advice or approaches to settle disputes, and whose simple presence makes everyone act better.
George Washington: Project Manager | The Superstar
George Washington was one of the best leaders in history. From leading the Continental Army in the Revolution, to leading the new nation as President for two terms, he was immensely skilled in strategizing and in managing others. He was rational and levelheaded (but with a fiery side when he needed it), calm under pressure, and trusted by all. If he worked in your office today, he’d make the world’s best Project Manager–planning and strategizing the best course of action for large projects and keeping teams organized and on task. He’d also be the guy that is so good at everything that people should be envious of him, but he’s humble and nice at the same time so you can’t help but like him.