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Posted: August 30, 2012

Business Darwinism

Employed? Pay it forward and take time to network and help others

John Heckers

We are in a very Darwinian time in both employment and business. You ignore this at your peril. Here are a few things to keep in mind both as the economy gets worse and as it slowly recovers.

1).  Do what you say you’re going to do or you won’t be doing it for long. I see a disturbing trend, especially in younger people. For many younger businesspeople, “I’ll do it” means “I’ll do it if something I like better doesn’t come up, if the stars are in alignment or if I feel like it.” This has got to end. I expect reliability, both as an employer and a customer. If I don’t get it, they don’t get my money, either. Many other people feel the same way.

2).  You must set yourself apart. Doing your job isn’t enough anymore. You must show how you’re faster, better and more organized than the competition. This is survival of the fittest, folks, and you’d better realize it. If you can’t answer the question “Why should I hire you rather than the other 50 people I’ve just interviewed,” you’re dead in the water.

3).  Attention to others is everything. Businesses, employees and job seekers who are narcissists are, fortunately, an endangered species… and it's about time! I don’t know about you, but I am sick of people who think that the world revolves around them and their “needs.” Grow up! The world doesn’t owe anyone a living, but we owe the world, our customers and our employers a great deal in these times. Employees who put their personal life before their job had better hope for an extension on unemployment. People who put others first, before themselves, are those who will be successful. 

4).  Manners count. I have seen far too many rude people lately. Manners count in business and in employment. Shoving past people, interrupting, raising your voice and having the eating habits of a barbarian don’t play well anymore in American business… or anywhere else.

5).  Rude, aggressive people only get ahead temporarily. There is an image of the CEO as someone who is rude, aggressive, unscrupulous and ruthless. This is a Hollywood image.  Unfortunately, too many “C” level executives have bought it.

I have seen many top executives and many lower-level businesspeople, who believe that being arrogant is the way to get ahead. It isn’t. The way to get ahead is to take care of the people with whom you work, be respectful to all people and do an honest, reliable job.

6).  “Pay it forward” works. The executives I’ve seen get re-employed the most rapidly are those who, when employed, “paid it forward.” They always had time to help others, advise others and assist others in obtaining employment. They tend to make a few calls and get re-employed.

The executives I’ve seen sit out the most are those who concentrated everything in their lives on their jobs. They did nothing but work. They had their admins screen out those pesky job-seekers and hangers-on. They didn’t have time for anyone except the company.  Well, the company now has let them down, and they don’t have anything or anyone else.

If you’re currently employed, take note. Pay it forward. Take time to network and help others. Stop thinking you’re important. You’re not, except in the sense that everyone is important. Recognize that everyone in life is vital to life, and notice them. I don’t care if it is the custodian, know that person by name. Take calls from job seekers and direct them to places to get help. Give some of your money to those less fortunate than yourself. Give of your time to advise people who need your advice. It will give you much better ROI than your stock in AIG.

This is evolution in action, boys and girls. And this is also a time where the greed and narcissism of America of the past 20 years is finally coming home to roost. At the end of this time, there will be a very different way of looking at things. And it's about time. The old ways of greed, arrogance and “business is business” have, finally, come to an end. The time of integrity, customer service, service to others and compassion has come.  Operate in it or become extinct. And the nasty, arrogant, greedy businessperson is one dinosaur nobody will miss.

John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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Readers Respond

Jeff, in regards to your comment below, I guess I have the plague. And I prefer not to share it the likes of those who want to stay Plague free "Anyone with experience and a history of paying it forward, volunteering, mentoring and providing support for not for profits runs into a wall of “me-oriented, protect my job” management types who view that individual as having the plague." By Mark Eagle on 2009 04 01
John, We all should be paying it forward with a positive attitude and helping everyone get employed and stop listening to the doomsday Washington know-nothings that the world is coming to an end. There is a catch 22 in the marketplace. Anyone with experience and a history of paying it forward, volunteering, mentoring and providing support for not for profits runs into a wall of "me-oriented, protect my job" management types who view that individual as having the plague. The "pay it forward" types are the same people who have crawled through snow banks to keep the doors open, opened doors for women, displayed team leadership and listened to new ideas that may/may not have merit over the years. These are the same people who given the option of retiring at 66 or working part time and training and developing new workforce personnel would elect option 2. Unfortunately, the media type managers and Twitter gossip human resource persons rule part of the supply chain. "Ask not what you have done in the past, ask only what you have done for me in the past 24 hours." By Jeffrey C. Fischer on 2009 03 31
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