Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Asshole’ Rule: Why Life’s Too Short To Work With Them

Anthony Bourdain

Have you ever turned down a project, job offer, or client just because you didn’t like them? If you haven’t, you’re not the only one.

It takes a lot of guts to turn down money. I remember one time at our family business; my dad refused to sell to a prospect. The team and I didn’t understand it. We thought: “They want to pay good money. Why not accept it?”

“Because they are assholes,” my dad said.

Fair play, I thought. The truth is that it was way more complicated than that. My dad had worked with that company before in the past. And he also knew others who worked with them. Apparently, they were a “supplier hopper.”

You have that type of clients in every single industry. The other day I was talking to our accountant about those same types of people. He mentioned they recently had fired a client because they behaved like assholes. The client they fired had a pretty bad reputation too. They have had numerous accountants in the past.

So it’s not uncommon for people to turn down business deals, jobs, or money, just because they don’t want to work with the other party.

But I must be honest, it took me years to get used to the idea that you can fire clients, bosses, friends, or anyone who’s an asshole.

Don’t Accept Rude Behavior

My goal is to be kind, but also be firm. I wasn’t always like this. In the past, I was way too tolerant. But I’ve learned that you don’t have to be that way to assholes.

Recently, a lady tried to buy one of my online courses. By now, I’ve hundreds of online courses to people from all over the world. And I take it very seriously. Everything is taken care of and I only use the best and safest services to host my courses.

The lady’s credit card was declined. I don’t know why. Maybe she entered the wrong information. Maybe it was a mistake from the firm that processes credit card payments. It doesn’t really matter.

We’re dealing with technology—sometimes it fails. Nothing’s perfect. And if something doesn’t work, people email me, and I always help them.

But that’s not what happened. Instead, she emailed me not to ask for help, but to call me a fraud. She was disappointed in me and called me some other stuff too.

How is it my fault that her credit card was declined? I use a service provided by other companies. Instead of emailing me and asking what’s going on and if I could help her, she went into full attack mode.

I emailed her back and said it’s rude to accuse people like it’s nothing. So I deleted her from my email list because I don’t accept rude behavior. Neither should you.

The No Asshole Rule

Anthony Bourdain recently mentioned his “no asshole” rule in an interview with GQ:

“It is truly a privilege to live by what I call the “no asshole” rule. I don’t do business with assholes. I don’t care how much money they are offering me, or what project. Life is too short. Quality of life is important. I’m fortunate to collaborate with a lot of people who I respect and like, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

The “no asshole” rule. I love it. I had never heard a name for it, so when I read the interview with Anthony Bourdain, who also happens to be one of my favorite TV people of all time, I thought it was a great phrase.

Make your life easier and get rid of all the assholes. Like Bourdain says, life is way too short for dealing with people who don’t respect you. It doesn’t make you selfish. If other people decide to be assholes, that’s up to them.

Also, the world is full of wonderful people. Isn’t it much better to say goodbye to assholes and give your time to the great folks? Idealists probably think you can change assholes. But again, life’s too short for that. Plus, people don’t change unless they want to.

If we collectively say goodbye to all the assholes, I bet that the world would be a lot nicer. Maybe they can form a colony on Mars or some other planet that Elon Musk will fly to with his cool rockets.

Obviously, that’s not going to happen. But at least we can get rid of the assholes in our own lives. That’s not only possible. It’s a must.

P.S. António, a reader of the blog, made me aware that there’s also a book called The No Asshole Rule by Robert Sutton. I’ve added it to my reading list.



Thanks For Reading!


I’m Darius Foroux—an entrepreneur, author, and podcaster.

I publish weekly articles on overcoming procrastination, improving productivity, and achieving more. Never want to miss an article?

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  1. I feel this rule would have given me a more pleasurable work life so far as I am mostly the “okay I’ll do it” people pleaser. I will definitely have an “asshole” setting on my radar from now on.

  2. Great advice. I wrote a similar article in LinkedIn ( ) because I’ve always felt that providers of services/goods should understand the value that they bring and use that value to be a business partner to their customer. A good relationship is one of equals and, unfortunately, there are individuals out there who only want to hear one voice in a conversation….their own.

  3. Hi! I’d like to know what you think about the PR hell that ensued a company called Gadget:

    In short, a customer called their product sh*t and the founder CEO was offended by this, so much that he fired this customer.

    In a short time, media spread this news, putting the CEO and the company in a very bad light, and a PR disaster happened. The founder was kinda forced to apologise and the company resumed business with the client.

    I’d like to know your thoughts about this case, it seems like the CEO tried to do just what you say (firing a ride customer) but the decision back-fired. Was the CEO just unlucky that media spread the news taking sides with the fired rude customer? How to avoid these PR disasters?

    1. I’m not saying you should dismiss customers who don’t like your product. For instance, if I sell a product that someone doesn’t like, I’m not going to say: “why didn’t you like it?” The customer has every right to write a bad review if they want. If you pay for something, you expect value in return. It looks like that CEO responded without thinking. That’s also rude. But shit happens.

      Thanks for sharing that story! It shows that we shouldn’t be rude to rude people.

      1. Hi Darius – Is there a way I can contact you privately? I’d like to ask you a question about your article on Medium.

  4. Hi Darius,

    I like reading your blog and I religiously check your newsletter. I really liked this article and can relate to it. However from one of the experiences in my life I have realized that it is not always possible to follow this “no asshole” rule. What if the asshole is a co-worker and you cannot just up and leave the job because of other reasons ? There’s no way out and you are trapped with this person who is a huge drain on your energy and sanity.

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