That one big, bad mistake

Posted by Richard Moran.

Apologies in advance to PWC.

Dear PWC, I am sorry to write this but the metaphor is just too timely and important. OK, OK, some will say that I am piling on but I don’t meant to. I only want to illustrate a lesson about work and careers. I hope you will forgive the license and accept my apologies in advance.

To set the stage: One person at PWC, a senior person at that, made a bad judgment call and as a result gave the wrong envelope to presenters at this year’s Academy Awards. The resulting confusion was a moment for the ages. PWC owned up to the mistake and issued several apologies (good move). It was a story that was hard to miss and everyone in the world now knows about it. It was an unfortunate incident for everyone involved, especially PWC.

Let’s take a step back. PWC is a great firm. Worldwide they have over two hundred thousand employees who perform really difficult tasks and solve important problems every day. Although I have no inside information, the very nature of the work they do dictates that the people there act with integrity and high standards. The firm is selective in who they hire and employees are put through a comprehensive training program. People there are proud to be a part of the firm. BUT…that major flub did occur at the Academy Awards. It happened in front of billions of people. And PWC was to blame.

So I dare you. When you see an ad for PWC right now or you meet someone who works at PWC, what is the first thing that comes to mind? It’s the flub. Admit it. And it’s too bad because there are so many positives about the firm.

The proverbial saw cuts both ways. I suspect when you see an airplane from USAir you might think of the heroics of Captain Sully. When you see an Apple logo, Steve Jobs may still come to mind. Duke basketball and Coach K are almost the same thing. Tiger Woods can conjure thoughts in activities other than golf.

The lesson? No matter who you are and how long you’ve been around, one mistake can define you or your organization and last for a long time, good or bad. Reputations can be resurrected but it doesn’t happen over night.

Think of the guy who got drunk at the holiday party a few years ago. Or the person who was abusive to employees and was caught on video. Or the colleague who saved the day on the project by working all night and you still remember it. The reputations were built, or hurt, in one fell swoop.

A personal and corporate image is a sensitive treasure and once a mistake is made it can be difficult to recover. Think about that before you make that one big, bad decision. Or, when you have an opportunity to do something great.

And, once again, so sorry PWC. Let me know if I can help.

A Circus of Endings and Beginnings

Posted by Richard Moran.

No more human cannon balls. No more trapeze artists. No more clowns to send in. No Dumbo. No parade into town with wagons and marching bands. The Greatest Show On Earth is ending. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that after 146 years of performances, it is folding up the big tent.

And for many of us, the fantasy is gone. What can ever replace running away to join the circus? Becoming a roadie for Bruce Springsteen? Becoming a beach or ski bum? Writing a book while cloistered in a Paris loft? Not much comes to mind that can compare to the circus. But maybe it was just time. That is, the time for the circus to end.

Kenneth Feld, of Feld Entertainment, the circus’ owner, said, “There isn’t any one thing. We looked at the performance in 2016 and advance tickets sales in 2017, and we decided it was not a viable business model,” he said.  The difficult decision was made in spite of the fact that an estimated 10 million people go to a Ringling circus each year.

Transporting the show by rail and other circus quirks — such as providing a traveling school for performers’ children — are throwbacks to another era. “It’s a different model that we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price.”

“The circus isn’t relevant to people in the same way it was.” Said Mr. Feld.

The lesson from the closing of the circus is clear.  Things run their course. What was once a great idea evolves over time. What was once a talent can erode over time. What was once a brilliant idea has been replaced by a new brilliant idea. The trick is to know when things do run their course and to make changes.

Careers and jobs run their course too.  What was once an important job is no longer. Skills that were once highly sought after are not any more. If you are in a spot where you can identify with the circus closing, because you know things have run their course, it’s time to make a change before they fold up your tent.

It happens.

Why We Fib At Work – 10 Reasons

Posted by Richard Moran.

A fib is not a lie. But it’s not quite the truth either. And we all are sometimes guilty – fibbing has taken over the work world. Millions of little white lies bounce around cubicles and office spaces every day. No, I am not talking about criminal activity or any kind of fraud. I am talking about fibs that might make you less successful – or not.

At a time when fact checking and fake news has entered the parlance, fibbing seems to be at an all-time high.

Think not? Here are a few fibbing test questions: Have you ever put a few “extra” words in your resume? Is the number of followers on LinkedIn that you claim more than what your page actually displays? Have you ever been on a project team that was a total disaster but you told everyone the team was on time and on budget? Have you ever tried to sell something for the company that you knew was a piece of junk but you didn’t say anything?

These are just a few examples of the fibs that can fly around the workplace and make for days of worry that you will get caught. And you don’t need to see an employee manual or business book to see that fibbing is generally not okay.

Why do we do it?

  1. The deadline schedule and your personal schedule are not quite in sync, but you can get it done over the weekend. FIB: “We are right on schedule but if we wait until next week, we can get more people in the room.”
  2. Others need to be protected and you want to do them a favor. FIB: “He/she worked their ass off on this project.”
  3. You missed something, didn’t do something or just didn’t want to do something and now you need to cover your ass. FIB: “That request must have gone into my Spam folder, you will have it tomorrow.”
  4. The truth of the situation is worse than the fib, like when no one is buying a junk product. FIB: “The customers are slow to adapt.”
  5. Others don’t recognize the real value you created and you crave the recognition. FIB: “The degree of difficulty on this was a ten and I doubt any one else could have done it.”
  6. Pretending to be something we are not in order to impress. FIB: “I provided a solution to the talent problems using a proprietary derivative method through Black-Scholes and flux capacitors.”
  7. Saying “No” would just cause more problems so we say yes even though we don’t mean it. FIB: “No problem, I will put it on the list and get to it”.
  8. The job isn’t done and we need to share the blame with others. FIB: “It’s been in procurement (IT, HR) for months.

Okay, I fibbed, there are not 10 reasons, there are only eight that I can think of, but there are actually millions of reasons why fibs happen in the workplace. I am sure you have a few to add. Go ahead.

But I hope you don’t add too many. Fibbing is neither good for you or the organization. A culture of fibbing is terrible for morale and will have everyone wondering what is true and what is not. For your career, being known as a fibber will have people avoiding you and will eventually impact your career progression and reputation. You will get caught. Lastly, it is a miserable feeling to be wondering who knows the truth and can sniff out a fib.

In short, DON’T FIB. Just remember stories like “Pinocchio”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” because those fibs can add up.