MEZGER OPENS MOUTH, INSERTS FOOT, NAILS DOWN AN INTERNET CLASSIC
Gather round everyone, as we are once again forced to remind everyone about a few common sense matters, thanks to Jeffrey Mezger, CEO of KB Home. KB Home, for the record, is a Fortune 500 company and at last check was clicking about $2.5B or more in revenue every year.
Might I suggest to Mr. Mezger and those who make decisions above him to consider a day or two in my Brand Image and Media Training seminars?
Mezger lives in a very fashionable, upscale and expensive part of Los Angeles, a gated community known as Bel Air. His neighbor is Kathy Griffin, the alleged comic performer who pulled off the severed Donald Trump head “gag” that cost her more than a few gigs for which she later apologize and then un-apologized, which is of course another brand image take in itself.
Allow me to note that the preceding sentence was indeed SARCASM, which has to be unfortunately noted as a good part of America has lost it’s sense of humor and often takes sarcasm as fact. Again, something we will cover another day in earnest.
I GUESS THAT SCHEDULED NEIGHBORS COFFEE KLATCH IS IN PERIL
Seems Mezger got into a little row with Griffin’s boyfriend, Randy Bick, after said significant other was apparently unhappy with something that occurred during a get-together at the Mezger home featuring his grandchildren. From all accounts, it would seem Bick may have been ticked off about noise, the fact kids were having fun, perhaps because he and Griffin weren’t invited, it’s still unclear. So Bick, instead of going to the Mezger home and seeking a resolution, did what any number of people would do. He called the LAPD, the men and women who certainly have little else to do with their time than respond to a call about noisy kids in a wealthy neighborhood.
No need to imagine Mezger’s reaction because it lives and breathes across Internet space and time forever.
Naturally, this accompanying video comes with the standard “EXPLICIT LANGUAGE” warning and for those who may be offended by such language to not blame the messenger. In seminars and workshop training with adults, I never censor such audio because it’s important to the issue. If we are to confront brand image, leadership and even basic human moments, we need to understand and confront them in their entirety and without censorship.
You have been warned. Oh, and as a side note, how very thoughtful of “The Huffington Post”, the website that was given the audio recording by Bick, to produce the spewing with music, pictures and captioning. The music was especially a nice touch.
IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO, AND IN THIS CASE BOTH ARE LOUSY DANCERS
Let’s begin with the dancer not being discussed much here, and that’s Randy Bick.
We have zero clue if he and Mezger have gone FU to FU in the past. We don’t know any history between the two. But at the very least, Bick could have shown some class and restraint by first going to Mezger and trying to slow this down before it got nasty. Again, we don’t know the history. Perhaps he’s tried that in the past and it didn’t work and was just fed up. Calling the cops does seem a bit extreme, and as noted the LAPD has bigger things to be concerned about.
There’s never anything wrong with seeking to be a peacemaker, either in your personal or professional life. Ratchet up the level of discourse, and there’s a good chance it will damage your reputation as much as those you seek to slam. Be the adult in the room. Put a zipper on it. Don’t stress so much.
On to Mezger.
As noted in the article, he’s been on something of a short leash with KB Home for some time. This won’t help him. Then again, he’s rich, influential, and likely figures he can get away with something like this because of his money and corporate standing.
He is, of course, flat out wrong.
A good deal of my workplace training and “The Undefeated Image” keynote is about not just the image you slap on yourself. If being the foul mouthed retort specialist is what you want to be know as, go for it. Own it. Throw a party and celebrate it.
But when you work for someone else, when you get a paycheck from an organization or company of any size, then what you do in public becomes THEIR image. And there is no reason for any business of any size to want a jerk or jackass at any level to represent them.
SO WHAT THEN SHOULD KB HOME DO ABOUT THEIR CRASS CEO?
Would I fire Mezger if I was in charge of the KB Home Board? Yes, I would. This will never go away, it lives forever on the Internet, it will always reflect badly on KB Homes, and it may indeed cause them to lose money. Granted, at the rate they profit it may only be a slight dip. But a loss nonetheless that could have been prevented if Mezger had shown better judgement.
He showed a lack of judgement in a public setting, which reflects badly on his professional choices and decisions he makes for KB Home. To lump in one more detraction, he as of this writing has not personally apologized. KB Home had to do it for him. Perhaps they ordered him not to speak or write a word, letting them handle it. If that’s the case, they are making a serious misstep as well. The person who dealt it needs to fix it. Immediately. If not sooner. No excuse.
KB Homes may show leniency here. Most of you reading this will find that your employer won’t stand for it and you’ll be out on the street in no time.
“THE MICROPHONE IS ALWAYS ON” AND SOMEONE IS ALWAYS RECORDING YOU
Yes, we are right back to one of the first lessons about life here in the 21st century. One that always makes me smile during a program because I can tell right away the people who just don’t get it. Lots of time it’s the high school students and athletes I teach. For them, it’s understandable. But when it’s a room filled with corporate executives and they seem astonished by it, I just crack a smile deep within the brain cells and internally shake my head.
You must treat life as if everyone around you has a recording device, because more often than not, they do. People seek out the unusual and embarrassing moment in order to sell them to media outlets, websites, and post on their own social media outlets as a gag. And the person being recorded is the butt of the joke and the one resigned to a lifetime of ridicule.
Read that again. A “lifetime of ridicule”. Because in Mezger’s case, as in millions of others, this will never disappear. It will follow him well past his time on this earthly plane. It will stick to him like glue.
Nothing personal against Mezger, but seek to be better than him when it comes to settling disputes.
Or don’t. Your choice.
The world is watching and listening.