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Outgrowing your tights

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There has been a lot of talk in the media these days about a certain sports star and the repercussions of his choices. Mistakes were made, big contracts were questioned and millions of fans were disappointed. Oh, those poor advertising dollars! As one of my closest friends clarified for me, the celebrity in question didn’t just make one mistake but many and they were pretty big ones. Not that I want to minimize these incidents, it’s just my opinion that its not the general public’s business.

Before our latest crucified star it was another ‘hero’ under the radar, and one before them. It’s clear that those in the public eye, as perfect as they may seem, are putting themselves out there to be judged. Almost instantly fame breeds suspicion and our beloved stars become the property of the masses. The most pure and idolized stars (because they are never caught doing anything less than respectable) inevitably are the ones who are most critically scrutinized. Under the microscope, these ‘heroes’ go about their lives until they make a mistake. Human yes, but they are our humans…uggh.

I shudder when I hear friends talk about how these humans are their kid’s ‘heroes’. “How could our kids look up to him now? Why didn’t she think of my kids before she went about her business?” I doubt any of our mega-stars actually care about our kids…I mean, really. They were probably thrust into the limelight because they simply happen to be good at something or maybe they had a passion that nurtured their talents. At any rate, I doubt they thought, “Wow, one day I will have tons of kids disappointed in me because I made a human mistake.” But when it hits them in the pocket because of lost advertising or product promotion the smart ones start planning for forgiveness. They realize their fans are really their customers.

I have two daughters who I hope model their choices after more than just television stars, sports figures or magazine ads. What parent hasn’t at least touched on this subject directly or indirectly? I can still hear my own parents’ balking at my choices for what was cool when I was ten… “You like who? Is that how we raised you?”


As parents we talk about what defines a hero. We discuss what’s worth admiration and the consequences of choices. It’s clear that these topics can get ultra-personal and what constitutes a hero for one family is certainly not the same as the next. But what I strongly believe to be universal is recognition, transparency, accountability and corrective action. I believe our heroes should not be defined by their position or their mistakes but only by how they learn and grow from them. (Let’s leave out really bad stuff like murder streaks and pulling those tags off mattresses).

As with many things in life, it’s the same with business. I have been fortunate enough to be part of a growing company for over 17 years. During that time we (especially me) have made so many blunders that it’s not possible to count them. The pride and ownership of providing our customers with quality products and service is not measured by those mistakes but rather from the way we have learned to handle them. Personally, and as a company, we have learned how to “make things right” when things go wrong. Therein lies the real challenge.

We are human. We all make mistakes. What’s more universally accepted than that? It’s what you do with it that makes you a better person, a better company, a better hero.

Categories: Business
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