Friday, March 26, 2010

HAuNTcon Part 3

Arriving home after a good trip is always rewarding. My wife was kind enough to let us celebrate our FIRST wedding anniversary while attending HAuNTcon.
A short while ago, we fondly remembered our trip and some great quotes we heard on the way. It happens when you walk by a conversation, or when you're just caught in the absurdity of the moment. For the record, thr people of Florida are very welcoming and friendly! Here's our favorites:

"I'm here for a funeral..."-passenger asking us why we were traveling to Florida
"You just have to attend our presentation"-first timeshare sales pitch
"It's just two hours and breakfast"-second timeshare sales pitch
"We spiced it up, because our Bloody Mary mix sucks..."-waitress after ordering a Bloody Mary
"The first time I put it in my butt..."-walking by a young girl, with her friends at Clearwater beach

"Now you're going to think I'm wierd..."-fellow Haunter at HAuNTcon.
"At 600 degrees, everyone would be dead!"-fellow Haunter at HAuNTcon.
"Smell the slaughter house..."
fellow Haunter at HAuNTcon.

"Let's call me a miracle..."-Arthur, bartender at Latin Quarter after explaining he was born when his parents were in their sixties.
"I'm not going to tell you what you want to hear, but how it is"-fellow Haunter at HAuNTcon.
"You guys are suckers for punishment"-fellow Haunter at HAuNTcon.
"I got a pig for Christmas"-fellow Haunter at HAuNTcon.
"I didn't mention the presentation...?"-third timeshare sales pitch
"There might be a group of ten coming in..."-a waitress explaining why we could not seat in a particular area...the restaurant was completely empty.
"It's like Beerfest"-Guest at the German area of Epcot.

"Did scientists wear gogo boots in labs?"-Me, during Spaceship Earth 60s scene.
"Don't's not really a graveyard..."-Mother calming her son at Haunted Mansion.

"The pilot said the plane is broken"-Gate attendant at US Airways.
"This is the second time a plane has broken using this airline on my trip"-Woman waiting at the gate.
"This happened twice now on my trip"-Second woman waiting at the gate.
"Yes, you'll need to change flights---wait you don't need to change"-Customer Service Rep on the phone.
"Yes, you need to change---please hold---no you don't need to change"-Customer Service Rep on the phone.
"Yes, you need to change...but we can't do it"-Customer Service Rep on the phone.
"You need more? You guys are ready to go...?"-Shuttle attendant giving the emergency plan...welcome to LAX, to fast to
listen to safety!

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Trash Run

I had a facinating self awareness experience yesterday morning. I arrived to work, and as I walked up to the front door, I notice a trash can was overflowing. Of course, an overflowing trash can speaks volumes to your customers about you and your business. I also rarely encounter this issue, so I knew my team might have had a momentary lapse in upkeeping.
After checking in with the supervisor, I informed her if it wasn't a hassle to her shift, I wanted to start by cleaning up the trash. She apologized about it and said that it wouldn't be an issue.
As I put gloves on, I went about the ugly task of emptying out the trash can (which it always surprises me why people put more trash in a can that is obviously full---another human metaphor, for another time).
One of my regular customers saw me, greeted me and said "Don't you have people that do this for you?". We both had a good laugh and we went on with our day.
It struck me as odd, that this seems to be the default thought for people. I have encountered this before with such phases as:

"Why are you doing the grunt work?"
"It's good to see a manager do the dirty work for once"
"Don't you have more important things to do? You're the manager"

What does that mean about the American business culture? Have we pushed managers up the ladder, and not leaders? Why is it odd that I do the work I expect my team to perform?
Are people so jaded about their superiors, that they might take a small pleasure in seeing them do 'grunt' work. If you follow popular TV, it would appear so with shows like "Undercover Boss"---teaching bosses about their own companies and how they treat their own employees.

I have always led with my heart. Stephen R. Covey put it best when he said, "The ''Inside-Out'' approach... to start first with self; even more fundamentally, to start with the most inside part of self / with your paradigms, your character, and your motives. The inside-out approach says that private victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves recedes making and keeping promises to others. It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves". No matter how many times I tried to test this I have failed. Humans are far more intelligent than we think. If there is a duality about you, people feel it and consciously or unconsciously will work against it.

For a third of my life I have worked retail business. Often, the starting point for many American workers. What sort of example do we give these first time workers? Do they leave their first jobs disenchanted or cynical? Is this where the deep rooted entitlement paradigm comes from? Feeling half empty, when the boss taxes them too much? How does this affect them later in other business sectors? Do they and you carry the weight and paradigms of your past experience? Perphas imposing heavy taxes on any boss you encounter? Finally, do we let these experiences become our reality, born out of frustrations on TV with out of touched bosses such as Michael Scott, brilliantly portrayed by Steve Carell. Does it sink into our culture around happy hour discussions, dinner table and social gatherings? Even more important, What are we going to do about it?
I have to place the first move on this board to the managers, supervisors and executives. This bold move must come from them first, to restore lost trust and build an experience that inspires a good work ethic. It also begins at home. Holding family accountable, and setting the example and expectation at a young age. As a parent first teaches children about trust, so must our leadership first be trustworthy.

Of course, managers have other tasks and responsibilities to perform, but the dividends from being in the frontlines as a leader pay out time and time again. You see those examples too, just see the leadership of the Churchills, Lincolns, and other leaders who hold the camaraderie of their followers close to them.

I am nowhere near their status, but taking out the trash brings me back to my roots, keeps me humble, and maybe sets a positive expectation to a future leader.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Tip or Fee?

Took another long break from blogging...but I'm back again!

The topic of this blog, is controversial at best. In my latest class... Global Business, we discussed low and high context society. Unamiously it is agreed that the United States is considered a low-context society. In other words, our laws and social customs are for the most part clearly and explictly explained and expressed.
Before beginning my opinion, I would like to confess, that my viewpoint has been molded by my mother's strong work ethic which can be described as "you work hard for your money" and my personal philosophy of TANSTAAFL.

I argue, that the idea of tips (when served at a restaurant or other service area) has been lost to an implicit expectation, in a low context society. My tipping philosophy is as follows:

A better than usual service should be tipped the customary 15%. This is for BETTER than what is expected service after the employee's responsibility under their job description. Exceptional service deserve 20%-50%! These are those rare instances in which a server goes above and beyond their jobs.

What is your philosophy? Most people tip 15% regardless of the quality of service. But I argue
Why? Their base pay (often minimum wage) is to perform their jobs well. A bad server can not be argued as having done their job. Yet they are rewarded with a 15% pay out on top of the paycheck they recieved. Again, why should I pay more for bad service, when I already am paying for their service with the bill? I have seen many people guilted and pressured into paying at minimum 15% even for horrible service. Even worse, some restaurants add a Forced Gratuity on the bill! Is this because a few don't tip? Should we force an expectation on the majority for a few insensitive minority who don't tip even for good service?

Has tipping in America gone from an incentive to a disincentive?

Are our servers working the bare minimum because they know that tipping will happen regardless? Will they get frustrated when a person like me doesn't tip? Has tipping in their mind become an entitlement? Why does my bill say gratutity? Not fee? See these definitions from

•TIP: a gift or a sum of money tendered for a service performed or anticipated : gratuity

•GRATUITY: something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service; especially : tip

Notice, "beyond obligation", "voluntarily" "a gift" are key to this concept. Now, read the definition of Fee:

•FEE: a fixed charge, a sum paid or charged for a service. An inherited or heritable estate in land.

Note, these words, "a fixed charge", "inherited" and "heritable". Very close to the meaning of Entitlement. Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale once said, "Entitlement and privelege corrupt". Could this be the source of the "tipping disincentive"?

In this low-context society, have we allowed a high-context behavior root itself in our services? Has an explicit charge on our bills become an implicit expectation?

I have argued, that our current recession is forcing both employers and employees to evolve. I challenge our servers to do more. Wealth begins with a wealth minded individual... Rarely does it arrive to a selfish individual. If you see selfish wealthy individuals...I argue they pay the price. Observe theses "hidden taxes" as Stephen M. R. Covey describes may not be in material things.

I worked for tips, a long time ago, and yes I felt the sting of hard work and no pay. Do not be discouraged...patience is sometimes required for the fruits of labor. As for the customer...tipping in cash is always welcomed, if you can't afford much, be kind! Even a small gesture of kindness can have a long lasting effect on hard working servers. As for
Employers...encourage and grow a culture of effective service. Find it in your budget to tip them as well!

Your comments and viewpoints are welcomed!!!

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