542 2nd Avenue Rivers, MB

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

You are NOT safe here.

April 16th, 2018

I spend the majority of my day on social media. Yep it’s true, up to 4 hours or more every single day. It’s a huge part of my job – marketing and sales for 3 different companies. I spend so much time online for business that I have actually stopped using social media for personal uses anymore, I just have no interest in it, it’s exhausting. And because of all of this time invested in online activities I am noticing a very disturbing trend, beyond disturbing actually – a complete naivete of what the internet truly is all about.

I am going to give you some context…

Twice in the past week, on two different discussion forums with business owners discussing, well business, I came across two different business people venting about their customers. Now these weren’t just generic vents like ‘Don’t you hate it when people come in 5 minutes before closing and order a 3 course meal!!!’ (used to happen ALL of the time in the restaurant industry and yep, it was vent-worthy! Please don’t do that)

These were very specific vents that if the person reading it was there or involved would know exactly who they were talking about (I have even seen some previous vents like these even include customer pictures!!!). Times, days, specifics and worse… character assassinations. I mean pretty explicit – name calling, the whole works. Now let me remind you – these are business owners talking about their customers. Online.

When I suggested that this was probably not the best business strategy, or asked how they thought their customers would feel if they read what was posted, or if they thought people who chose to give them business deserved that type of open ridicule and disrespect – I was dismissed. One owner even said to me, ‘This is a private forum, it is my safe space!!!’

Um…

No. No it is not.

This is the internet. There is NOTHING private on the internet.

How many politicians’ careers have we seen derailed in this past year alone for comments, texts, tweets, private chats, emails – that they thought were gone and forgotten or that they thought were private? How many marriages ruined over photos and messages found in cyberspace? How many ‘Can you believe this text’ shares have you seen on your newsfeed when a screenshot has been passed around ridiculing someone for something? How many people have gotten fired for posting a picture of them at the bar on their ‘private’ page when they had actually called in sick?

Let me repeat – This is the internet. There is NOTHING private on the internet.

We tell our daughters not to text pictures of themselves and to stay off the webcam – why? Because nothing is private on the internet.

But these are no hormone driven adolescents doing this, these are not octogenarians giving out their PIN number in an email. These are professional business people who should know better and yet someone they still think that the internet is some safe medium to say and do anything you want consequence free. It’s not. When it comes to venting, trust me I get it. I REALLY get it. 3 businesses, 12 staff (most of which are millennials), 4 kids and a husband… yep, I know all about venting, trust me. We need to vent, we have to unload our worries, frustrations, fears – but here is my rule of thumb…

Never post anything on the Internet (including texts, emails, chats, forums, etc), no matter how private and safe you think you are, that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper.

That sums it up.

The minute you press post or send, you are inviting the world to see your words, encased forever on the world wide web. If you feel strongly and would stand by those words and are willing to face them every day for the rest of your life – go ahead, post away! I am no stranger to that type of opinion sharing – it’s a big part of my business and my brand, but there is a difference between that and the anger or emotion-spewed talk you regret the moment it is out of your mouth or on the screen. The stuff you say behind someone’s back that you would never say to their face – the stuff you don’t want anyone else to know you are thinking. Those are the things you don’t want out there. Those are the things that can ruin relationships, break trusts, damage friendships and destroy businesses and careers.

This is the Internet – you are not safe from repercussions here. Consequences can be detrimental years down the road. The impact of a single hurtful vent can cost far more than the satisfaction gained by unloading in the first place.

It can be so easy to overshare. We feel so ‘connected’ to other people over a phone that we can forget there is an entire world watching. Be mindful. In work or in play. Everything you type, say or do online, is fair game. Don’t risk everything you have worked so hard for – your family, career, friendship – over a line of text you may not even feel an hour from now. Vent – but do it in a truly safe place – the arms of a loved one, a handwritten journal, meditation, prayer -whatever works for you. Just keep it offline.

You are not safe here.

~ Michelle Renee Budiwski

Image via Flickr/DonkeyHotey

 

 

 

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!