In 1991, I was a 20 year old intern at TK Communication’s radio station KLUV in Dallas Fort Worth. I had three executives come marching into my makeshift office back in the production studios and one of them held a contract in his hand that he slapped down in front of me.
The general manager had an uncomfortable look on his face and stated, “I need you to sign this contract with a signature that looks like this.” He showed me the signature of some David person whose last name I couldn’t discern.
I asked if this was legal. Another of the men said, “Just sign it. You don’t need to worry about anything else.” I did as I was told, but to this day, I am not sure what harm it may have brought someone. And, in case you’re wondering, I believe I did the wrong thing.
The station was later sold to Infinity, and I remember Mel Karmazin sitting in my office and telling me that I was going to get rich thanks to him.
Over the next year I watched our general manager front load spots in the system to make his numbers look good out of fear of Mel the Madman. I watched clients get only a portion of what they were offered promotionally. I watched him write in spots that were supposed to have aired. In addition to the business aspects I watched the executives in our office cheat on their wives and booze it up. They lead by intermediating and at some point I knew I’d had enough.
I was offered a position in San Francisco and was set to accept the job in 1995. I informed my program director of the decision and he took me into the general manager’s office.
Our GM told me how stupid I was. How I was a dumb ass to make this move. He belittled me like no one ever had. He used language I will not use here. After one hour of name calling and screaming he offered me a raise to make me stay. After all he said I was unsure why he wanted me.
I could not believe I sat for the beating, and I was more confused that I accepted the money. But, I had decided I would use the increase to play for an even better position with another company, but I was done serving these bastards.
Six months later I found that job. I placed the letter on my boss’s desk and stated, “I’m leaving so there’s no need for another beating.”
Leaving CBS Radio was a relief, but there was much I learned there. I learned how not to live my life, how not to run a business, and what kind of people to avoid like the plague. In the midst of the worst situations I learned the greatest lessons and developed my approach to business. It was the breeding ground for developing my business ethics.
I was the marketing director for KLTY from 1995-1998. I was dealing with a sales person on an issue one day and I remember stepping into a sound proof room with him and letting him have it. I tore him a new one verbally. Right when I finished it hit me. If I did not use the things I learned, I would become one of the people in business that I despised.
I apologized, and fortunately that sales person is still one of my friends.
I have interviewed countless people. One of the questions I ask is, “Tell me about your work or business ethics.”
The answer I usually get is, “Oh, I have a good work ethic.” There is seldom any defining of this ethic. While over the years I’ve know the foundations of my approach to business, I was just recently challenged by a friend to put them in writing. I was asked to summarize, so I can then go deeper based on the outline.
Here are my leading concepts to my approach to business:
1. You are receiving a wage, therefore you are to serve and give everything that is asked of you, and more of what is not asked of you
2. There’s only one way, the right way
3. Your business and personal life are not separate. You are to be the same person in all places and to give your all to both and to keep them in balance
4. Self preservation is a means to an end
5. Never forget no matter your position, your job is to make your company money
6. Tell the truth
7. Your boss is your master. Treat him or her as such and honor them like they’re British Royalty
8. Always learn more
9. Never act like you are more important than anyone. Serve your boss, your clients, your peers, your subordinates and the person that takes out the garbage with the same respect
10. Bring peace and solutions to every problem
11. Do for those that are never done for
12. Remember, the position is only yours for a little while – teach someone else to do it
13. Relationships are the key to everything
14. Never retire
It will be important for me to expound on these items and so I will begin and update as I am able.