Categotry Archives: Authenticity

Are You Being Passionate or Just Emotional?


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A student of mine once made the important distinction that “you drive passion whereas emotion drives you”.

One of my mistakes in business was using the word passion as a convenient excuse for an emotional response. Instead of stepping back and logically analyzing a particular situation, I would often wind up making an emotional response. Afterwards someone would say “wow … you seem to be passionate about that”. Although people want to be lead by a passionate person, most importantly, they want that person to be in control of their emotions.

There were times when I composed myself in not making an emotional response and each time it was a painful experience. Yes painful! Because I rationalized my emotional responses as passionate responses, I didn’t realize I should even be changing my behavior. It wasn’t until we sold our company and I was able to step back through teaching and writing that the emotional mistakes I made became clearer to me.

I think we must first recognize that the essential ingredient to changing a behavior is going through the effort of practice. Most everyone knows that anything you want to get better at requires practice. With all difficult practice, whether physical or mental: “no pain, no gain”.

We can either embrace the pain of practice or we can make excuses and rationalizations.  My rationalization was equating an emotional response to a passionate response.

By embracing and practicing the act of emotional self control, we can ultimately become stronger leaders and set a good example for the people around us.

First Day on the Job


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Wearing the new suit of clothes I received for graduation and taking the cable car to my first day at work was exciting but also nerve wracking. This was the start of my first real job as an executive trainee at the Emporium/Capwell on Market Street in San Francisco. After arriving at the store, I was sent to the men’s clothing department. I didn’t know that men’s clothing was short for men’s “tailored clothing” meaning suits, sport coats and slacks. Eventually I figured out where I should be.

John, the men’s clothing salesman, was a sage pro. That morning John said something to me that has stayed with me all of these years. He began by telling me to straighten up the department. Fold all the clothes, make sure the jackets were hanging perfectly straight, and make sure every bit of lint was picked up off the floor.  Of course, I conscientiously swept, straightened and arranged all of the clothes and did everything John asked me to do.  It was a Monday morning and business was slow so it didn’t take me more than an hour or so to have that department in what I thought was pristine shape! After I proudly finished my task, I asked John “what should I do next”? He said start all over again. Well, this didn’t seem very logical to me. For heavens sake, I was a college graduate and I like to be efficient with my time. Was there a reason to re-do and re-straighten?  John then said to me a simple thing which has stayed with me all of these years. He said “When you think no one is watching, they are” Yea right! Oh well, I thought, John’s my boss today I’ll do what he says. Not long after I started diligently refolding a pair of slacks, I looked up and standing by my side was the merchandise manager for the entire men’s area. He gave me a smile and a nod of approval. At that point what John, the sage salesman, said made utter and absolute sense. I never forgot what John told me. Now that doesn’t mean I perfectly practiced it, but I always remembered the importance of what John told me that first day on the job.

My First Job Interview


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My first real interview in the workplace taught me something I still remember today.

After I graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Psychology, I had to find a job. One of my college roommates was in San Francisco attending the University of California Hastings Law School. He had a three bedroom apartment and needed one more roommate to fill it out. Another one of my college buddies was working in San Francisco at the Emporium/Capwell Department store and he said he could get me an interview for their executive trainee program. Being young, that’s all I needed to load up my MGB with my worldly possessions and drive south to my new home.

A few days before my interview my friend who worked at the Emporium asked me what I would say if the interviewer asked why I wanted to work in retail. I densely said “I need a job?” My buddy said “oh no, what you need to say is, I want to be in retail because it is a fast paced, ever changing, people business and I’m a people person”. I wrote that answer down on a piece of paper and practiced saying it over and over until my interview. Well, I had gone through almost the entire interview when at last the interviewer asked me “Why do you want to be in retail?” I was so excited the interviewer finally asked the question that my response was authentically exuberant and passionate.  The interviewer thought I was genuinely passionate about retail. In reality, it was because I was so happy he asked the one question I had so diligently practiced over and over again.

Regardless, the outcome was the same. The interviewer asked if I could begin work the following Monday. I believe enthusiasm and passion go much farther to getting a job than people may think.

#3 – Tell the Truth: Pelzie’s Principles (Part 4 of 4)


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Tell the truth … the third Pelzie Principle, seemingly simple but possibly the most difficult for his kids or anyone else to authentically grasp.

I think the reason telling the truth is difficult is because we can so easily rationalize and convince ourselves that we aren’t stretching the truth. The easiest lies, and possibly the hardest to detect, might be the lies we tell ourselves. Jonathan Haidt from the University of Virginia says that the greatest moral philosophers are the best at rationalizing their own lies. We see this in politics and business all of the time but, can we rationalize and lie to ourselves about our own authenticity?

In the late 90’s our company, Ex Officio, Inc., attended the Outdoor Retailer trade show, an important four day event held twice a year in Salt Lake City. Our company had nonstop appointments from the beginning of the show to the end. After one meeting, I noticed our National Sales manager was having an intense discussion with two women from one of our smaller accounts. I didn’t know the account so I decided I would go over and introduce myself. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I had interjected myself into the middle of a difficult discussion about short shipping this customer. Short shipping is when a company does not fully fulfill a customer’s purchase order.

As it turned out, our customer who was short shipped was extremely angry because the shirt style they didn’t receive was one of their best selling styles. I apologized and asked our customer what we could do to make her happy. She did not want to hear anything we said other than that we would ship her store the shirt style we weren’t able to ship. She went on to accuse me of holding shirts back for our largest customers in order to curry favor with them instead of shipping the smaller accounts. I told her this wasn’t true but she continued to insist that it was.

After accusing me of being deceitful, I stopped the conversation, took a breath and said “we were at fault for not shipping you your product, but if you are questioning my integrity, I don’t think we should continue to do business with each other. Thanks for coming in, good-bye!” She and her partner got up and left. You can safely assume the atmosphere in the booth wasn’t exactly jubilant.

Well it wasn’t long until the work day was finished. My two business partners, our VP of Sales and I decided to have a fine meal and a few beers at one of our favorite Italian joints. And guess what? We were seated at a table right next to the two customers we had earlier clashed with! We gave them a polite nod and sat down. Fortunately the place was boisterous enough so our respective table’s conversations couldn’t be heard. After a few moments, I had an inspirational thought. I told my partners we were going to pick up their dinner tab. I thought they might not go along with this idea if I simply offered so I discretely found their wait person and told him I wanted to pay for their dinner. When our customer went to pay their bill, the waiter told them that we had already picked up their tab. As I thought, they weren’t very happy about it, and grudgingly they came to our table to give us a quick one word “thanks” before leaving the restaurant. Now I wish I could say my suggestion of picking up their tab was because I was being genuinely nice and trying to make amends. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I expected this gesture would grate at them.

The next day, the woman who accused me of deceitfulness came to our trade show booth. She apologized for her actions the previous day and genuinely thanked me for picking up their restaurant tab. Making a special trip to our display booth to apologize and thank me for dinner had to be extremely difficult for her, but she did it anyway.

After she left, who do think felt like the jerk? Although I rationalized that picking up their check was simply “comical”, in actuality it was done to make these people feel uncomfortable. It certainly did not represent the esteemed integrity that I fought to defend the day before. I think you could easily make the case that my authentic intention for picking up the check was far closer to being unkind than being upright.

The lesson I learned from this experience was the importance of being completely authentic as a person in all facets of my honesty and integrity. I hope I never forget that the biggest lie may be the one I rationally tell myself.

The last of the three Pelzie principles, number three “tell the truth” … not as simple as we might think!