This is a quote from a very good friend of mine and business partner, Rich Lavinski. Rich’s been around almost as long as I have and experienced just about as many things when it comes to people, jobs, and their career. This idea is something that everyone ought to keep on their minds regarding just about every personal and business activity they are involved in.
The reason this phrase came to mind was that one of my candidates was eliminated from getting a job offer…. because of something he did almost three years ago. He got fired from the company he was working for back then because at one of the company’s social events he had too much to drink and said some things… lots of things… he wished he hadn’t. The story is that he even made a racial slur. In spite of the fact that none of the people that were supposedly at the event can remember exactly what went on, the story of this fellow’s indiscretion has traveled throughout the profession he is in, and obviously is still being told today.
The guy is a tremendous performer and everyone that knows him or of him knows that he is. But our client was so afraid of making a mistake in hiring him when they heard of this three-year-old indiscretion, decided not to hire him. Our client was close to offering him a job and heard about the incident through a backdoor reference. They didn’t even bother to go to any lengths to confirm the incident. They just plain decided not to hire him because they “couldn’t afford to run the risk.”
According to the candidate, this situation had never come up before in his career. Even though he was stunned, he never denied that the incident had happened. He was simply furious that the “grapevine” was still talking about it. There is no doubt that it cost him the job.
It is really unfortunate that this happened. I’m convinced that this incident has absolutely nothing to do with the candidate’s ability to perform. His track record is awesome. But the truth is, like Rich Lavinski says, “Dallas is the biggest small town you will ever live in.” You can do all of the good in the world but the one or two times that you make a simple human mistake, you’d best be prepared that people are going to remember it, talk about it and don’t be surprised if it could cost you a job.
This kind of thing is even more pronounced with the advent of social media. I’m an ex-rugby player and played for more than 20 years. I have to admit that some of the things I did when I was a kid could have been tweeted and YouTubed causing tremendous embarrassment and maybe even some business opportunities. Like my candidate, I’m really embarrassed. But fortunately there are no records that I know of… Thank God.
Here’s the point. Just about any indiscreet activity you participate in is going to be remembered or documented by somebody. And you never know when it’s going to come up or be “remembered.” It could cost you a lot of things, including a job.
People remember and pass on the negative stuff way beyond what they do with the positive stuff. It has always been that way and it always will. Watch what you do. Watch what you say. No matter where you live… it could be the biggest small town you’ve ever been in.