161-8th Street Brandon

Ph: (204) 679-7806
Fax: (204) 480-4537
Email: butterfly@mts.net

We are making it snow.

June 19th, 2017

I am going to do something I rarely do – mom shaming. Yep I am going there and I am not limiting it to a mom, I am including a grandma too.

I haven’t posted in months – my life at home and work has been beyond crazy and with another corporate expansion on the horizon and all of the issues surrounding that, I decided I needed to get away for a few days. No kids, no work, no plans, just some down time to focus and restructure.

So here I am on a plane – sitting in the plus section, paying more for a 2 hour flight than should be allowed just so I could stretch out, read a book, sip bad but free wine and start to unwind. Letting the thoughts of construction and inspection delays, staff issues and the costs associated with all of it just seep away… at least that was the plan.

Instead I had a mom, a grandma and two little kids sitting in the rows behind me. These girls were maybe 3 and 4 – although by listening to them you would think they were infants. Yep – two hours of screaming, crying, kicking seats and one temper tantrum that ended with vomit all over the floor. Yep it was that kind of flight.

I have 4 kids and I am far from a perfect parent, FAR from it and I have traveled with all of my kids. planes, trains, automobiles, cruise ships – you name it, so I know that they are never perfect angels and that shit happens when you have kids. I have been the mom with a crying baby walking the aisle apologizing to other passengers, been there, done that. I have also been the mom smiling knowingly to the mom passing by 15 times down the aisle apologizing every time she goes by with her screaming kid. I get it.

What I don’t get is this mom and grandmother – not once did they get up to walk the aisle with these kids, not once did I see a game, toy or candy come out as a bribe. Not once did I hear an apology to the 200 other passengers or frustrated staff for the beyond annoying behavior. Not once did I hear a ‘NO!’ or a ‘Stop that!’ – not from the adults that is, the kids said it or screamed it plenty.

What I did hear was, ‘It’s ok baby, let’s sing a song.’, ‘What can mommy do for you?’, ‘Wow, you are upset, I bet you won’t like our next flight either.’

Yep, for 2 freaking hours.

I have never been so close to actually intervening with another parent or actually disciplining someone else’s kid. It was so bad I actually turned my video camera on to catch the sound to play for my husband because I knew he would think I was exaggerating.

A grandmother who looked to be in her early 50’s, a mom in her late 20’s and two children who’s behavior was excused and even validated when completely inappropriate with zero respect or acknowledgement to those it effected.

I suddenly realized that this is our problem. Our society has created what is dubbed ‘the snowflake generation’ – it’s not a millennial issue or any generational issue by age, it is a group of individuals that have grown up being told that their feelings matter above all else, that they are free to express themselves anyway they choose whenever they want and they have never been told NO. They receive trophies just for showing up, pass classes at school even without understanding content just so they don’t feel bad and have their parents yell at their teachers when they fail to hand in homework. Homework that doesn’t matter anyway because they know they will never fail.

As business owners and managers we see them as people who enter the workforce not understanding expectations need to be met, deadlines or consequences. They expect unlimited praise for every step of every process, believe their feelings are foremost in every encounter with another human being and cannot take criticism at any level without melting down. (Get it – snowflake).

It’s not everyone, it isn’t an entire generation, but they are out there and I worry. I worry about the future of our society, the competitiveness of our country in the global market, now and in the future. I worry about our educational system. We have created this with every great intention in the world – to teach self worth and empowerment. But we have gone too far. And as my recent flight shows – we are still doing it. One more generation of snowflakes whose feelings come before all else and will enter the world as adults never hearing the word no and not knowing how to handle it when they do.

I hope my children know that their feelings matter. I hope that they know they can express themselves appropriately and that they matter as individuals. I hope that know that they can accomplish anything through hard work. I hope that know that no one has the right to disrespect or abuse their minds, bodies or emotions and I hope that they understand the difference between criticism and abuse. I hope they know that just because they can’t do whatever they want or have whatever they want whenever they want it that their world won’t end. I hope they know you have to earn the trophies and awards they get and I hope that they know that in life sometimes you have to do stuff you don’t want (like work) to get access to the things you want (like time off, vacations, shoes, rent, food…)

I hope that we start to find balance because a few more generations of snowflakes and this fantastic country of ours may not last another 150 years.

Customers are not always right…

March 24th, 2017

I started my working career at the ripe old age of 11 in the 1980’s – yes I am THAT old. Why did I start working so young? I wanted stuff. Stuff took money and neither I or my family had any. Where does an ambitious 11 year old work? The only place I could – in a restaurant washing dishes. 5 years later I was helping to manage a different restaurant down the street. 4 years after that, I bought it.

There is no business like the restaurant business to teach you about customer service, you are only as good as your last meal served and that was true even in the days before TripAdvisor, Yelp and FaceBook reviews. The old adage reigned supreme, ‘The customer is ALWAYS right.’

Fast forward 25 years and here we are. I am thinking about where I get my customer service attitude from because of a shocking conversation I am involved in online with other business owners, most that are new to the business world. Most are of a digital generation. Most have made or are making comments that are or are similar to this…

“It’s annoying to have to answer the phone and answer questions from customers about things they can just find on our website. I don’t want to waste my time or my staff’s time dealing with these stupid questions – it is all online.”

And that is what has made me wonder if we are losing touch with the reality of business because we have stopped dealing with people and are conducting commerce from behind a screen.

I don’t know everything (I know right – holy smokes!), but what I do know is that the customer is NOT always right. It’s true they aren’t, but what they always are, is the customer. Without customers, we have no business to conduct and as such they always deserve our time and mostly, our respect.

Have we answered the same questions at Escape the Final Countdown 1000 times? Yep. Will we answer them another 1000 times? Yep. and we will do it gladly.

Do I always say yes and give in to any request by a customer just to make them happy? Nope. But when I do have to say no, it is done with respect and reason.

The day I start becoming annoyed by or no longer have time to answer questions or deal with my customers is the day I close the doors and retire. In person, behind a screen, on the phone or by text… customer service will always be customer service or at least it should be.

Perhaps we are missing a fundamental business course among all of the digital marketing and SEO courses… basic common coutesy and an attitude of gratitude. Without or customers, we have nothing and for that we should always be grateful!

 

People are everything

March 9th, 2017

I have been in business for myself on and off for 25 years now, exclusively for the past 10 years. Some of my business ideas have been quite successful, others not so much but one thing they all have had in common is that they have taught me a great deal. I am a hands-on learner, it is one of the fall backs of having a memory like mine – I can remember almost anything I read word for word, like recalling a picture in my head BUT that rarely means I have learned from it. I need to DO in order to learn and man have I done a lot!

So what have all of these lessons taught me?

PEOPLE ARE EVERYTHING.

It’s true.

The more needs you fill for the most people you can, directly impact the success of your business and your life.

That’s it. Meet the needs of your people. The more yu can do it, the more successful you will become in business and in life. It is how I am making every single decision placed before me – how will this meet the needs of my stakeholders?

Well first answer this – who are your stakeholders? Who is impacted by your business? For me the list goes¬† like this…

Me, my family, my employees, my customers, my creditors, my home community, my business community…

So my job is to weigh every decision on how it can be the most beneficial to the most people and reduce the negative impact on as many of them as possible.

It simplifies life beyond imagination and can be applied to everything – not just business.

For example: I recently accepted an offer to sell one of my business divisions. It was an offer that came out of the blue and was not something I had even considered doing yet – my exit plan for this particular division was still at least 2 years away. So how did I make the decision? I looked at the effect it would have on all of the people who have a stake in that company… how would the sale benefit each and every group on my list? How would it hurt them? In this particular case, every group benefitted, none were hurt. Decision made.¬† Like a pro-con list with a few more groups considered. Easy Peasy.

Mutually beneficial relationships.

When a relationship is no longer symbiotic, it is time to end it – personally and professionally. I make all my decisions based on this principal. It simplifies matters, clarifies. That does’t mean every decision is easy as there is always an emotional component (seeing Muck Off! go is like watching an adult child move out of the house), but once you know it is the right decision, it takes the sting of uncertainty away.

I am excited to see what becomes of this baby of mine as it continues to grow without me and am proud to have played some part in its success but now it is time for me to step back and ask myself… what’s next? There are needs out there that still need to be filled, which ones will fill mine?

Only time will tell.