Losers, Lost Souls, and Limited Opportunities

entrepreneurial activism spiced advice Mar 31, 2024

Why representation matters…. and not in the way you think.


Allow me to set your expectations, dear reader, right off the break. This is not an opinion/advice piece about diversity and inclusion. If you’re here on the Blog, you already know the value of variety in voices for unbeatable brand building.

This is an article about how employee behaviors directly impact consumer buying decisions. 

In this case, your team (individually and collectively) stands as your representative. That representation has a huge hand in business success. Period.

How do you want it to go?


Marketing is “death by a thousand cuts,” but for good.

Gary Vee
fans love to reenact his power bit called "What’s the ROI of Your Mother?" It’s a relatable way to answer the question, “But, Gary, what’s the ROI on social media?”

Gary laundry-lists all of the positive experiences he’s had in his life to make the man we see before us. The encouragement of his mother, for example, a priceless commodity for a budding guru/influencer, is proof-positive that you can’t put a hard return on soft skills.

And such is marketing, communications, and customer service. (Which, BTW, are all sides of the same coin.)

Every single interaction is an opportunity to cement brand loyalty and trigger positive word of mouth. Every. Single. One. Too often, we get reeeallllyyy comfortable in our role as boss/director/founder/C-suite decision maker; we lose sight of the day-to-day realities of playing in the business arena. 

It’s not enough to pay attention to the way in which the young retail pro is interacting with a customer at the return desk; every manager knows that is something to watch. <fingers crossed> 

You must understand that just like “everyday I’m hustlin’” applies to sales and biz dev, it is also true in your everyday—think lateral—people activities. 


Learning it the hard way through heartbreaking examples.

Consider the contractor/consultant you’ve engaged on a specific project. You came in, guns blazing, ready to take over the world. Everyone is swept up in that new-relationship-energy  and the project kicks off with momentum and good vibes. Development is funded and meetings are set, things are humming along smoothly. But then, something happens. 

Entrepreneurship is lonely and fraught with attention-sucking fires that must be managed. In one way or another, you will get distracted. If pursestrings get tight, you may see suddenly see the project as a money suck, and resentment can set in. Something happens. 

Resist the urge to stop communicating with your partner in this work. When you do, the insider starts to feel like an outsider… and outsiders are not often inspired to recommend you to their own networks, offer valuable insight, or make above-and-beyond magic happen for you. You know, the relationships desperately needed to be competitive in the marketplace just left on the table. <heavy sigh>


Consider the larger organization with departments to run, metrics to hit, and talent to recruit. Leaning in on standards & practices and chains of command, the system works if you work it. Risk is kept at bay and the trains keep running on time. 

Resist the urge the forget the fact that communications is internal marketing; which is as much, of not more, important than external communication. (In fact, I would argue that it is way more powerful than any B2B/C marketing, as when you win over an influencer, you cultivate a referral stream way more powerful than the one-at-a-time approach.) 

Do not rest on your laurels! Treat communication more like a thriving ecosystem and less like a lazy river. It’s so short-sighted to ignore the other fish that are swimming along with you. Make the LinkedIn connection, answer the email, engage the conversation--people are paying attention and they know when you’re not. You could be overlooking problem solvers and next-level relationships when you’re out seeking solutions and sales. 


Consider the restaurant owner who treats a colleague to lunch at the bar and then never asks about the food or service. Highly qualified focus group of one, ready to deliver game-changing observations and “undercover boss” the heck out of some feedback, with no opportunity to do so. Wouldn’t you want to know? After all, restaurants spend $x on secret shopping services every year. Here is one for free, yet the owner has lost sight on the power of a conversation with people who feel like an insider. 

Resist the urge to become complacent in opportunities for insider information, often it is your lateral relationships that provide the most value. I’ve always gotten more from my fellow students than I ever did from a course leader in a mastermind or professional development course. 


You never know who you’re waiting on.


As a waitress I learned intimately the idea that “you never now who you are waiting on.” It could be WaPo Food Critic Tom Sietsema (for whom I have made a margarita in this capacity.) It could be the mayor. It could be the mother of a bride already looking for a reception venue. It could be an avid Yelper. It could be the world’s greatest tipper.

Best not to leave that up to chance. Treat everyone like an opportunity to strengthen your network. 


What’s lost…. <sad face>... is faith. 


When I was a child my mother read the Chronicle of Narnia to each kid. Since I was the oldest, I have had the chance to listen three times. 

I’ve never gotten the image of the hero (the all-knowing, all-being, all-powerful Aslan) dying on the great Stone Table, which becomes irrevocably cracked as a result. He has sacrificed his mortality for a greater good. (Don’t worry, as every followers of faith-based literature knows, Alsan returns in his spiritual form to save humanity from evil forces.)

Lost opportunities completely break my heart. I picture them there, shorn of their “Lionly” mane and atop a broken table: money, work, information.



What have we sacrificed? Faith. 


When you consistently drop the ball on communications and people stop feeling like an insider and start feeling like an outsider, they have lost faith.

⇟ Faith that your company is going somewhere good…. and that they should come along.

⇟ Faith that you treat your people right…. and that they need to make some introductions, stat.

⇟ Faith that the new job you’re vetting or contract you’re bidding has your best interest at heart and isn’t wasting your time.

Lose that faith and it’s death by a thousand cuts, but not for good this time. 


By giving folks the cold shoulder, even if it’s out of benign neglect, and you’ll leave more behind that Aslan ever did. Lost opportunities for insider information and sweet referrals are just the tip of the iceberg.


People forgive bad products, they do not forgive bad service.


Why does it matter so much that we play nice-nice with anyone who throws us some effort? Because you never know who you are waiting on.

While not everyone will be a good fit, as long as you have a plan in place to redirect them somewhere else, you will stand strong of your reputation of always doing the right things for the right reasons and people will keep the faith. 

It’s just the way we’re wired. Human beings learn from experiences. Have a good one? Put it on repeat. Have a bad one? Avoid it happening again and warn your friends. It’s why a mediocre meal is easily forgotten, but a cantankerous server is bitched about for a week. 

If you’re “sending a representative,” give an 'ish how they do that shit. 

Even you. 

Take an inventory. Are your employees order takers or brand embassadors? Are your managers leaders or lame ducks? Are your onboarders or on-boring on brand? 

Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. If you’re quick to circle the wagons, cut people off, deem relationships irrelevant, it could be a trauma response. We all need a healthy attachment to the future. 

If it’s just that your head is in the clouds, or you’ve come to a place in your career where you can afford to be more cavalier, I am here to tell you, you can’t afford it. Not even a little bit. For every positive experience begets loyalty and faith—and that shit is priceless. In fact, it is absolutely paramount to overall business success.