Welcome to the intersection of arrogance, entitlement, 21st century social media, and the search for a new job. Welcome to the world of Susan Pierez.
Pierez, as of this writing, is Program Director for the NY State Council on the Arts. After what she pulled on a flight from JFK to Syracuse, good luck holding onto that gig.
Congratulations, Susan. You’ve made my collection. Forever tucked away neatly into not only my gathering of videos used to hopefully teach people what not to do, but certainly also downloaded, bookmarked and meme-generated by millions for the rest of time.
In this day and age, it’s tougher than ever to find a good job, much less keep one. But it’s even tougher when you miss the simple steps of 21st century life, social skills and manners that in most cases destroys both a personal brand ans professional career.
I do feel sorry for Susan. She made more than a few mistakes, and in any other era she would have flown her way to upstate New York unfettered, and all that would have followed her would have been recollected stories and what might one day turn into urban legend.
This is not any other era. This is the 21st century. Where everything we say, do, and sometimes even think is recorded and shared globally in milliseconds.
Anyone over the age of 6 knows this.
It is perhaps the singular most important thing I teach every client, every organization. Whether part of Media Strategy 101, Media Intel Training, a short appearance at a professional meeting, a quick conversation at the hockey game, (Boston Bruins, if you please), or a casual conversation with an adult beverage, (Sam Adams Lager will do quite nicely).
Smartphones and social media are the 2 most personally and professionally damaging, daily elements of our lives.
Failure to learn this comes at your own risk. Is this a fate you really want to tempt?
LESSON 1: Smartphones are everywhere and everyone is ready to use them for fun, profit, pleasure and being able to tell people “wait until you see what I uploaded to (choose your favorite form of social media HERE)”.
Pierez decided to make a scene. Everyone loves a scene. “RECORD” is the easiest thing to tap and takes no effort whatsoever. Neither does it take much effort to upload and share.
LESSON 2: You have absolutely no control over where video, pictures, documents, memories, rumors and innuendo wind up. None.
The woman who recorded this video is the woman who was the focal point of Pierez’ anger. She may, as the story indicates, now feel sorry for uploading the video. Nice sentiment, but useless. Damage done.
LESSON 3: Entitlement and arrogance make for terrible bedfellows.
Pierez decided to use her position as a Government employee to threaten the flight attendant. Make no mistake. That was a threat. She allowed herself to believe that was a “get out of trouble free” card, and no matter how nasty she was, she could get away with it.
Maybe in the 19th century or in a time before such poor manners were on display every day, thanks again to that nasty social media.
LESSON 4: Apologies are useless in the heat of the moment.
Tensions were running high. Pierez couldn’t keep her mouth shut. The flight attendant had the complete authority to kick her off the plane, and did so without hesitation. The whiny bleating of an apology at that point was both pathetic and useless.
Pierez will apologize to her employer. She may be forced to issue a written apology to the airline, the flight attendant, the woman she railed against and her baby, every passenger on the plane, the flight crew, members of the ground crew, the men and women who built the plane…you get the idea.
But her life is forever marked by this ordeal. And it is her fault. She will hopefully take the responsibility and learn from her mistakes.
Ones that will never be forgotten thanks to a smartphone, social media, a feeling or entitlement and a good sharp dash of arrogance.
I take no joy in writing this commentary. I wish Peirez the best and hope she learns form this encounter.
So should you. Learn, that is. Because a personal and professional reputation is a fragile thing, often difficult and, maybe, impossible to repair.
Once the negative leaves the ground, no telling where it’s final destination might be.