Partial Business Plan for "The Expendables"

Here are some exerpts from the business plans for the book and documentary,
"The Expendables." We can't show it all, but we can show enough to generate
excitment and new hope. If you are a legitimate potential investor, distributor, publisher, literary rep, etc. with an interest in making the workplace safer and more ethical for everybody, please contact us at
for a complete version.


If love is "never having to say you're sorry," working with some bosses and co-workers, in contrast, is often about constantly having to say you are sorry…and not being sure about why are you are sorry to begin with.

The documentary "The Expendables" delves into the lives of several Americans from different career fields, backgrounds and parts of the country who share one very big problem-the inability to "fit in" in at the workplace and hold down a job. Contrary to the stereotype of a perpetually unemployed person (substance abuse problems, incompetence, tardiness, laziness, apathy, shyness, unattractiveness), targets are actually intelligent, educated, attractive, goal-oriented and ambitious individuals with only the best intentions. After years of education or specific preparation, they embark on a career or job with a commitment to excellence. They envision themselves ascending the ladder and making the grade, for themselves and the people they work for and with. They do it, having grown up with the notion that "American Dream" is attainable with hard work and a positive attitude. They develop great ideas they believe will help them rise and become indispensable to their employers and clients. And then, they find they're expendable, spending more time defending themselves and second-guessing their actions than following through with them. And too often, the outcome of their efforts results in the all-too-familiar, "It's not working out, we're going to have to let you go."

In many cases, targets are labeled with an "attitude" or "personality" problem. While the uniqueness of their personalities have won them friends and enabled them to have great life experiences, they are regularly being denied financial security, continuous health care, retirement benefits and other niceties most of the population takes for granted. But many targets are determined to make the best of really bad situations (unfathomable financial problems, break-ups of relationships). They will find humor and irony in their workplaces, adapt themselves to lives they never planned for and use their harrowing experiences to bring about awareness and social change. Through their eyes and keen observations, and out of the ashes of unrealized dreams lie fascinating truths about cracks in the workplace, the economy and society at large.


The book version of "The Expendables" will not only feature in-depth stories of the trashed careers, broken dreams and stolen ideas of people seen in the movie, but will introduce the reader to other targets with dramatic and revealing stories about workplaces and colleagues gone bad. Although there will be significant input from experts (lawyers, government agencies, etc.) appearing in appropriate places throughout the book, the primary structure will take the shape of a great journey, or Odyssey. We will travel not only through different parts of the United States (and Canada), but also through different cultural factors and problems that figure in to the whole bully problem-from ongoing, well-established issues like age, race, disability and sex discrimination to more obscure situations where one can be fired because a boss or co-worker fears their strength and capabilities. Many know these situations too well. Unfair firings are conveniently masked by presumed "incompetence" or "everybody placing complaints" about the targets. There are also increasing incidents of "constructive" termination (responsibilities being removed until there is no work left) as well as abuse of "at will" hiring laws that seem to cater most to bosses who hire and fire for sport.

Unlike most human resources departments, the book and film will also give quality time to experts in the field (labor lawyers, union reps, financial experts) and the bosses and co-workers who have taken it upon themselves to keep their workplaces as "trouble-free" as possible. The bullies will shed light on what motivates their behavior, why they take the liberty to play God with the lives and careers of others, and why they feel their actions are just and fair. Targets often want to get a clearer picture of what they are really up against, and the bullies who are set on telling it like it us will give the working public a rare glimpse into the machinery of office politics-and the foibles and ironies that go along with it. It's a fascinating cast of un-supporting characters, from the drill sergeant, to the faux-best friend/spiritualist, to the gatekeeper, the preacher, the screamer, and to Napoleon and Margo Channing fans. "The Expendables" book and film is the rare situation you can find them all in one place hatching plots, finding ways to rule the world and plan their attacks.


...Naturally, there is the audience comprised of anybody who has ever been in the thick of an unhealthy workplace situation. For this group, the featured players of "The Expendables" serve as role models on how to endure the unthinkable and come out stronger as a result, with heightened self-esteem and a sense of humor…and occasionally, much needed detachment. Second, and more importantly, there is the audience of the general working public (18-60) which will be enlightened, surprised and occasionally horrified about places and people that seem so familiar. The fresh, irreverent and harrowing look provided by featured targets as well as a variety of experts (lawyers, psychologists, EEOC officers, etc.) will at once force them to confront the realities (and fictions) of making a living in America, realize bullies undermine whole business structures as well as individuals, and that mediocrity drives the economy because so many smart people are being driven out of their jobs and into the unknown. Some of these "unaffected" people may even realize that they are either targets or part of the bullying problem.

In addition, documentary buffs, art house film enthusiasts and avid readers will find much to enjoy and ponder about the book and film. The 20th Century had books like "Nickel & Dime" (Author), Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," Daniel Levine's "Disgruntled" and Studs Terkel's "Working," and diverse films like "Roger & Me," "Swimming With Sharks," "Norma Rae" and "Office Space" to provide potent commentary the hazards of the workplace and challenging the concepts of "job," "career" and "dreams." As a book and movie, "The Expendables" emerges in the 21st Century, continuing those traditions and delving deeper into the dysfunctions and injustices of a new workplace that cannibalizes its most educated and skilled people and plays like reality television shows that define "losers" based on the purely superficial.


If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, then a healthy dose of humor, a pinch of compassion, a sprinkling of irony and generous portion of resolve has the potential to bring the public a new understanding about workplace abuse that extends far beyond the lives of the victims, or "targets." We take the adage "to inform and entertain" seriously. The book and documentary shouldn't just be something the public needs to experience…it should be something they want to experience, and something that they will actively seek out. The stories told and the facts presented will evoke emotion, and stir up debate and dialogue. Even if bullies and workplace abuse affect the bottom line of many businesses, the truth of the matter is that humanity and soul of our society is at stake. And by having fun with that concept, paired with a "fight back" attitude, audiences and readers will be encouraged to rethink their attachments to the status quo.

To the accomplish these things, the book and documentary can have these attributes:

· Compelling, watchable people and great (if somewhat painful or ironic) stories: Interviews with a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, career fields, ethnicities, belief systems and geographic locales. Our aim is to pick a cross section of individuals that genuinely represent America's population…as well as industries where bullying is widespread and accepted.

· The book and film will take their audiences on a journey, moving from person to person and place to place across North America. Through editing, the appropriately timed use of pop-cultural references and "experts," artistic use of film stock and writing styles, the story telling flows in a seamless way. The "chapters" work as individual stories and as a collective whole.

· Pop cultural references: To add context and texture to the film and book, and to further explain why bullying is so accepted as part of our culture we want to find a way to integrate clips or recognizable film stills. Movies like 9 to 5, Swimming with Sharks, Working Girl, Joe Somebody and Roger & Me are reflections and fantasies of how bullies operate and how good workers triumph over evil (sometimes). Meanwhile, television shows, ranging from Survivor, Temptation Island, Oprah, The Weakest Link, Blind Date many and other newer game shows, focus on elimination and "survival of the fittest." Even the politics and scandals behind the scenes on several of these shows make their inclusion more relevant. For the film, appropriately selected film and television clips can be "montaged" in between interview subjects.

· Capturing the interviewees (bullies, targets and others) in unique, personal environments that say a lot about who their "true selves'' and what their dreams are beyond the societal pressures to have a career, make a financial living and fit in. The environments should be as diverse as the people being profiled (i.e. In addition to private homes, we can capture our subjects in coffee houses, baseball fields, local theaters, a favorite book shop, music stores and a special rock on the beach by the ocean, a zoo).

· We want to show, very clearly, how interesting, how "cool" targets often are…thereby shedding light on why some bosses and co-workers may find them so threatening. We want the viewers to feel empathy-to either feel solidarity with the interviewees or to feel anger ("Why are these people being treated like this? This guy is brilliant…I don't get it.") that such inhumane treatment is allowed to take place. We want to show that the kindness and intelligence that could be used to advance businesses are not being properly utilized.

· Our interviewee targets are courageous, and truly believe that opening up and telling their story will be of great value to society as a whole. We seek people who are survivors, who aren't afraid to tell the truth, and can deliver that truth (their career war story) with great energy and enthusiasm. The best-case scenario would be to profile targets who may even dare to be partially interviewed with former co-workers (who are equally, brutally honest) or within eyeshot of their former workplaces…or perhaps, in these workplaces, after hours. It's all about confronting their fears and conquering what may hold them back. They should view the experience of being a part of the film as a bungee jump for the mind, an extreme sport. Something scary, cathartic and life-affirming.

· We want to find "experts" (labor lawyers, financial experts, corporate consultants, ACLU officers, psychologists, government employees and even a good yoga instructor- For example, Golden Bridge's Sada Sat Singh, a nutritionist who has strong views on corporate America and the treatment of employees) that will tell our readers and viewers not only what they need to know, but things they may not want to hear…but, again, deliver their observations insights and messages with wit, bite and compassion.

· We also dare bully bosses and mobbing co-workers (including those who have tormented the subjects) to appear on camera to give us their take on what the targets might have done to "deserve" the treatment. In cases where bullies and targets from the same workplace have been paired up, there can be interesting "Split" screen effects that can be effectively used.


(To Be Continued...)

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