Tag Archive: employees

Use Negative Lessons to Build a Positive Brand Foundation

While I didn’t realize it at the time, I started building my personal brand in the fourth grade when I took a job working as a handyman and house-cleaner for a lady from a wealthy neighborhood on the other side of the tracks, who I will call Norma. My employee-boss relationship with Norma was by no means an easy one. This crotchety, high-society, Miss Havisham-esque woman was extremely demanding and could become physically violent if her every whim was not fulfilled.

It seemed the harder I worked, the more she demanded. Leaving was not an option—I enjoyed and needed this job’s financial compensation. I was one of 10 siblings being raised by my widowed mother, and we were living in Holmes County, Mississippi, the fourth poorest county in the country. But after two years of slaving away for Norma, I finally found another job so I could finally leave her.

As brutal as the experience with Norma had been, it was not without its lessons. I learned that using fear isn’t an ideal way to treat employees; instead, strict authority is damaging to their morale, self-esteem, and self-confidence. I also learned that setting clear expectations, providing feedback (be it good or bad), a simple “thank you,” and respect must be the foundation of an employee-employer relationship.

In addition, working for Norma taught me to never give up on satisfying the customer. I needed to deliver a service to her, and when she told me it wasn’t right, it affected me. I began doubting myself.

But now I realize that sometimes, like with Norma, it will never be right. You have to understand people and what makes them happy. You need to realize that sometimes the problem is just a result of a customer’s personality, but still continue to try hard to satisfy them and take their feedback. Throughout all my jobs, I’ve excelled at meeting and surpassing customer service standards.

I also learned to work with the employee to create the customer experience. I’ve never forgotten what it’s like to be the low man on the totem pole. I know that people do not embrace fear, they run from it. By working with and through people, rather than trying to work around them or even worse, using harsh, dictatorial methods of “motivation,” I have produced impressive results with every staff I have ever managed.

Customer satisfaction and high employee productivity and morale are the cornerstones upon which I have built my successful brand as a manager, motivator, coach and speaker. It all started more than a quarter-century ago with Norma. Who knows, if she had been a sweet, kindly old lady, my future brand may have suffered!


Reader Poll: Have you ever had a negative work experience that proved beneficial later in your career? Post your replies (and your stories) today!


Citigroup is slashing 53,000 jobs!

Is this a precursor to what will happen at other companies in the financial sector? The economy is showing no immediate signs of improving. Citigroup has posted four straight quarterly losses. Not only are they cutting jobs, they stated that expenses will be lowered by 20 percent and assets will be reduced by more than 20 percent.

What advice would you give to the thousands of employees who will loose their job?


What a sad site at the Lehman Brothers’ headquarters on Sunday night. You could see scores of employees entering and exiting the building with boxes, bags, personal items and suitcases. Lehman Brothers announced that it is filing for bankruptcy after all potential buyers declined to participate in a buyout.

We have seen three powerhouses : Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch crumble as a result of their shaky home lending portfolio.

Though I am concerned about the distress that this will cause to the overall economy; I am equally concerned about what will happen with the 26,000 employees at Lehman Brothers who had to walk away Sunday.

Do you think the government should offer assistance to these employees?


Aloha Airlines said Sunday (March 30, 2008) it will halt all passenger service after Monday (March 31, 2008), basically bringing to an end the airline that has transported passengers to Hawaii for over 60 years.

Aloha, which filed for bankruptcy for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on March 21, couldn’t keep up with the rising fuel prices and fierce competition a casualty of fierce competition and rising fuel prices. The airline said it will stop taking reservations for flights after Monday.

“We simply ran out of time to find a qualified buyer or secure continued financing for our passenger business,” said Aloha President David Banmiller in a statement. “We had no choice but to take this action.”

Aloha said tickets for flights after Monday will not be honored. It said it is working to have United Airlines accommodate passengers with tickets for Aloha’s mainland to Hawaii flights. It hopes to seat those with interisland tickets on Hawaiian Airlines.

Aloha has canceled Monday flights from Hawaii to the West Coast and between several cities in California and Nevada. It’s last day for interisland travel will be Monday.

Aloha advised passengers who don’t want to fly another airline and who want a refund to contact their travel agents or credit card companies. Those who paid by cash or check may file a claim in bankruptcy court.

The shutdown will affect about 1,900 employees.

WOW, so an airline can just give a one day notice to it’s paid passengers and employees?

Should airlines be required to give at least a 30 day notice to it’s paid passengers and employees?