About eleven years ago, I had to dig myself out of a hole in Ohio.
(Columbus. Where holes are extremely huge, by the way.)
I was at a corporate insurance office — laying off about 10 people — and I was reading from a prepared script. Lawyers love notes and I remember being told, “Stay on point.”
So I tried to stay on point. Explained why I was laying off the group. As always, it’s business decision due to declining premiums and stagnant corporate revenue. Or whatevs. Didn’t apologize but did express as much sympathy as the lawyers allowed.
One of the men in the room raised his hand for Q&A and asked, “Do I look stupid to you?”
What? What? That question isn’t in the script.
He started expressing outrage at poor executive decisions, high G&A, and the lack of a strategy at our company.
“Laurie, seriously, do I look stupid?”
The general manager of the office intervened, thank god. I remember thinking to myself, “What the hell is G&A?”
About five years later, I was working for another company and delivering messages about bonuses. The message wasn’t good but I had a script and talking points. The lawyers had prepped me. I was ready. And after my presentation, another guy raised his hand and said, “We read the news. Do we look stupid to you, Laurie?”
Whoa! Déjà vu!
I think about those two experiences whenever someone tries to sell me a load of goods, tells me something untrue, or generally tries to pull one over on me.
- When I walk through a conference expo hall and you try to oversell your products or services to me.
- When you have awful news about your business and try to bake it into a ‘sunshine and sprinkles cake’.
- When you promise one thing and can’t deliver… but have a million excuses.
Do I look stupid to you? Do your customers and employees look stupid to you?
We’re not. We see right through you — just like my former colleagues saw right through me.
Don’t lie, don’t mislead, and don’t sugarcoat your story. The only one falling for this garbage is you.