18-HOUR CITY / • noun.
Between the 24-hour “global
hub” and the 9-to- 5 “company
town” is the “18-hour city,”
epitomized by Denver,
Raleigh-Durham, and Charlotte.
I think this means anywhere
you can’t get a slice at 3 a.m.,
but will still be charged $10 for
a beer. Source: PWC
JOYFLATION / • noun.
“The combination of the
oil-driven slowdown in
inflation and accelerating
economic growth.” Also
known as the fleeting
moment between suffocating price increases and
ruinous deflation. Enjoy it
while it lasts. Source: Bloomberg
/ • noun. “Father of the
Internet” Vint Cerf warned
of a “forgotten century” if
today’s digital information
cannot be read by future
technologies. We should get
Hillary Clinton to back up all
of our files on her server.
Source: The Guardian
The most effective way to get rid of stains on your
corporate reputation is to eliminate the root cause and
trumpet the fact that you’ve done so.
THE MAN IN THE MIRROR
LET’S TALK about
mistakes. While every
mistake doesn’t lead to
a public-relations crisis,
every PR crisis begins
with a mistake. Once
you’ve dealt with the
immediate fallout, you
have to ask the most
What role, if any, did you
play in creating this mess? What could you
have done to prevent the crisis or mitigate its
negative effects? Why didn’t you?
Those questions are tricky, because
it’s always easier to blame something or
someone else than to take responsibility.
My biggest crisis was in 1988, when my
first company, a messenger business, was
forced into Chapter 11. For months afterward, I told myself I was just a victim of bad
luck. Who could have predicted the stock
market crash that wiped out a large portion
of our customer base? And how could I have
known that, about the same time, the
number of companies with a fax machine
would reach critical mass, eliminating the
need for my services?
Eventually, I realized the real problem was
my appetite for risk. I’d made decisions that
left my company vulnerable to such developments. Otherwise, we would have had time to
adjust to changes in the market. Because of
something in my nature, I’d jeopardized both
the company and my employees’ jobs.
Admitting that was painful, but only
after taking responsibility did I learn the vital
lessons. I adopted practices to slow down my
decision-making process and to make sure I
was getting advice from people with strengths
different from my own. Without those
changes, I would never have built the business
that I sold for more than $100 million.
That’s the point. It does no good to get
through a crisis unless you learn its lessons.
That requires accepting responsibility for
what you did but shouldn’t have, or what you
didn’t do but should have.
Startup wisdom from senior contributing editor
and veteran entrepreneur Norm Brodsky.
Please send queries to email@example.com.
A-minus rating from the Better Business
Bureau and the CEO maintains a lower
public profile than before the scandal.
ADMIT MISTAKES AND
When an employee or a division makes
a mistake or bad decision, fall on your
sword first and point fingers later, out
of the public eye. But be very public
about how you’ll ensure the screwup
doesn’t happen again. At the afterschool
company with the bad drivers, firing
those employees solved the underlying
problem, but the reputational damage
remained until Wade advised the
directors to hold after-hours open
houses—three a year at each of three
facilities. Guests include the media,
potential investors, neighbors, and
prospective customers, who tour the
computer rooms, meet the staff, the
founder, and the board, and ask
questions. Wade also gave the staff
public-speaking tips (such as avoiding
legalese and jargon and using a tone of
voice that shows you care). By 2013,
registrations were up, and after each
open house, the company gets a surge
in calls from prospects. —JILL HAMBURG