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Sexual Harassment: Mediasplaining vs. Fact


By MJ Plaster

As the list of outted perverts grows, it makes you wonder if it would be easier to create a list of people who don’t sexually harass or inappropriately touch people over whom they have power. At the same time, it seems that men are in danger of having their every glance and utterance cataloged to prove harassment. It doesn’t help that everything has become a microaggression.

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Is “The Customer Is King” All It’s Cracked up to Be?


By MJ Plaster

Suspend reality for a moment and pretend business doesn’t answer to its gods, the shareholders—or in the case of small-to-medium businesses, monied interests. Whom would you choose for top billing—customer or employee? Before you make up your mind, read about some of the success stories at companies who put their employees first.


The Virgin Enterprise
Sir Richard Branson, who runs the Virgin empire, ranks shareholders concerns dead last in third place. In his universe, his extremely successful universe, the employee is king, followed by the customer. In an interview with Forbes, Branson says he wanted to get away from “Stepford Service” by taking “[an] informal approach to customer service at all our Virgin brands.” What he means is, “Free the employees to be themselves,” within reason. He doesn’t value cookie-cutter employees. When something goes wrong, he insists on quick resolution. That has proven a winning combination across his franchise.

Ford Motor Company
Putting employees first is not some new-age concept. If we harken back to the early days of Ford Motor Company when the company introduced the assembly line, we find that Henry Ford paid his employees the then-exorbitant wage of $5 per day, double the average wage. It wasn’t altruism. He believed not only that employees should be able to buy the products they make but also that his sales would increase if his employees could afford to drive a Ford. Regardless of his intent, how many other workers could afford a Model T back in the day?

U.S. Airlines
When Southwest Airlines (then Texas Air Southwest) began shuttling passengers among Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, the public snored, but the big airline executives revolted all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear their case against Southwest. How dare a little competitor invade their fiefdom! The big airlines did manage to relegate Southwest to smaller airports. As an unintended consequence, passengers enjoy easier, less stressful access to airports when flying Southwest.

As Southwest began to grow, other airline employees took note of the employees’ free-wheeling, playful interactions with customers and their equally casual attire. Flying Southwest was fun—not only for the customers but also for the employees. Airline personnel pointed to the company’s competitive pay scale. To recap, Southwest let’s its employees be themselves, they work in a fun environment, and they are paid handsomely to do it. Most Southwest employees will tell you they love working for the airline. How does this affect the customer? Flying Southwest is one of the most pleasurable ways to fly if you don’t mind flying in coach.

Small Business
The employee-centric model holds true for small business as well. Southerners have an expression: “If Mama isn’t happy, no one’s happy.” In this case, “Mama” represents the workforce and “no one” represents the customer. Specifically, when managers and owners show their appreciation and gratitude to their teams, and foster a pleasant working environment, the customer wins in the end.

In an interview with CheckWorks, Dale Rodgers, owner of Armed Exterminators, says that “people first” is his M.O. “My employees are number one, followed closely by our customers. Without happy employees, you won’t have happy customers,” Rodgers says. “Our customers know us and trust us. We get very good referrals for our service, and we treat them well. Our employees know how to speak to [the customers] and how to treat them; they’re always polite. We’re blessed with great employees.” His employees have extended the model of respect to the company’s customers, and everyone’s happy.

Can “Employee is King” Go Too Far?
Whole Foods has a bit of a sordid reputation—even among its loyal customers. This cloud rests on pricing and misguided or misinformed employees. Business Insider reports that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey conceded in a town hall meeting to prioritizing employees over customers “to the detriment of the customer.” For example, who benefited from employees were telling customers that the stores were GMO-free? The customer or the employee? It sure made life easier on employees who were ill-informed at best. Customers were happy until they learned otherwise.

Amazon acquired Whole Foods this year. The online behemoth has already addressed customers’ most vocal complaint—price. They have cut dozens of prices by 25 percent. Minimal interaction with Amazon takes place only in the event something goes wrong, and I can tell you from experience, they are quick to handle complaints. Customer service spares no cost to make customers happy.

For example, when a Prime delivery reaches customers late for any reason, Amazon extends an addition month of the premium service free of charge. For me, it translated into six free months tacked on to last year’s subscription. So far, I’m one month into the new year, and I have received a free month. However, their superb customer service has little bearing how Amazon treats its employees, which is deplorable according to The New York Times. Amazon disputes the report.

So, what’s the verdict? Unless you are willing to pay your employees extortion-rate wages and salaries, their well-being should be of paramount importance—as long as it translates into a superior customer experience.

That’s my opinion. What’s yours? Let us know on our Facebook page.

How to Give Your Business CPR After a Natural Disaster

By MJ Plaster

The disasters keep rolling in—one right after the other. Unpredictable weather is one of the things Americans have learned to live with. It’s when, not if, a natural disaster or a wind-fueled wildfire will strike. As a business owner, you want to protect inventory, physical buildings, data, employees and office pets.

I’ve been through more natural disasters than I care to remember, including Tennessee’s Thousand-Year Flood in 2010 when my home sustained six feet of gushing water. I lived to tell the story and worked my way through the labyrinth of complex forms, organizations, qualifications, etc., the hard way. Now that I’ve earned the t-shirt, I’ll share what I’ve learned.

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URGENT: How to Protect Yourself From the Equifax Hack Now


By the CheckWorks Team

At CheckWorks, we take every measure to inform and protect our customers and website visitors in the areas of business and personal finances. A breach at Equifax, one of three U.S. credit-reporting agencies, has compromised much of its customers’ data. Some people, including young adults who are new to the world of credit, may not know that Equifax maintains credit profiles on all Americans in the credit system. Below, you’ll find out what’s at risk and the steps you can take to protect yourself and your credit. Tell everyone you know about this breach, and send them to this article for details and links to vital information.

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Are You the Worst Boss in the World?



By MJ Plaster

“Oh, dear God, it’s Monday, and I don’t know whether to stab out my eyeballs or slit my wrists.” If that’s what runs through your employees’ minds after the weekend, I know a secret. You might think they loathe their jobs, but it’s more likely they hate you, their Cretan boss. And, what’s worse, these bosses may be so self-absorbed that they have no idea their employees feel this way.

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How to Kill Viral Rudeness in the Workplace

By MJ Plaster

Sensitive people need to grow a thick skin to survive in today’s workplace. Thanks, in part to social media, common decency and discourse in society has broken down, and most of us must deal with rudeness at work. Still, there’s no excuse for incivility. It is not a show of strength; at best, it is a display of lack of social skills, and at worst, it creates a toxic environment for everyone.
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10 Neon Signs You’re Not Paid What You’re Worth

By MJ Plaster
“Money is just a scorecard.” That’s what people of vast wealth say. Far more view it as a means to buy day-to-day necessities while juggling meager amounts just to keep their heads above water. Your beliefs about money could be limiting your supply. Follow along as we look at 10 flashing red signs that you’re underpaid and explore ways to remedy the situation.
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10 Danger Signs You Are in the Wrong Career

By MJ Plaster

Cue the ambulance sirens: Your health could be in peril if you dread Monday mornings. Heart attacks occur on Mondays more than any other day of the week. According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, they most often strike between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. While correlation doesn’t necessarily equate to causation, a huge leap isn’t required to make the connection between the start of a new workweek and the higher incidence of heart attacks.

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A Peek Into the Upside-Down Financial World of Millennials

By: Dayana Enriquez
Fellow Millennials, this is a sneak peek into your future and a plan to change your destiny. It’s also a glimpse into our generation’s world for those who have forgotten what they once faced as 20- and 30-somethings. At least once during their lifetime, most adults encounter what they feel is a losing battle with managing finances wisely. If you fall into the “it’ll never happen to me” category, I commend you for your optimism. All others can keep reading.
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