Archive for the ‘Loyalty’ Category

Service of Conflicting Loyalties

Monday, April 22nd, 2024

We’re often confronted with allegiances that bump up against one another. I’m rewatching a series on Netflix, “Virgin River.” In it, a person with terminal cancer has asked her best friend’s husband [a doctor], and other close friends to let her tell her best friend about her diagnosis. Trouble is that this woman is on a trip, and she is devastated when her friend dies while she’s still away and nobody has told her of the serious illness out of loyalty to the wishes of the sick person.

At least three times officemates who were crucial to the running of a magazine or PR agency at which we were both employed, told me that they would soon be giving notice and to please keep it quiet. I always did.

A friend was annoyed when her husband wouldn’t tell her anything about a case the jury he was on was determining a verdict because he’d been told not to discuss the case with anyone.

It’s important to be clear when your news is not to be shared. If the person is married, I think that it should be OK, if the spouse is trustworthy, to give that partner a pass on the embargo. It’s ideal not to create potential friction as a result of your request for secrecy.

Have you been put in an uncomfortable position when asked not to discuss a situation with anyone? Have you asked not to hear the confidence? Have you asked others to honor your secret?

Service of Habit or Is it Misplaced Loyalty?

Thursday, July 13th, 2023

I have banked at the same two places for an eternity. I was getting six cents a month interest from “savings” even though banks have prospered from the blossoming interest they charge for credit card and college loans as well as mortgages. I waited for change in my “savings” account. Nothing has.

I found out about a third bank’s favorable savings option, so I gave it a whirl. The branches are not convenient—it considers itself an online bank–but I don’t plan on visiting often. Signing up for online access was a cinch. While sparse on branches, they seem to have ATM machines all over the place.

There is nothing wrong with my other banks. On occasion an employee asks, “do you have an appointment?” when the place is empty. Nobody is rude. I often must wait to get anyone’s attention at “customer service.” There’s rarely anyone ahead of me.

What bowled me over was my reception at the “new” bank and how well informed the young clerks are. I didn’t need to speak with an officer, and, in fact, I didn’t see one. As I walked out of the new bank, a security guard I’d not noticed, [I’d entered by a different door], smiled and wished me a good day. There was palpable cheerfulness about the place. While the purpose of the coffee shop at this branch is to attract young customers, it was filled with a diverse demographic and a friend who recommended the coffee there is months away from her 90th birthday.

I didn’t know what to expect. The new bank has been in the retail business only 18 years vs.  the 19th century for the other two. I am terminally stodgy about change regarding where to park money or stuck in a habit or maybe I suffer from misplaced loyalty. Does this ever happen to you with any service?

Ceramic kitty bank.

Service of Presidents: I’ve Worked for Great Ones

Monday, February 18th, 2019

It’s Presidents Day so I wanted to honor two great ones I worked for—both at PR agencies: John Havas and Bob Schwartz.

I’ll try to be brief—I see eyes glazing over as I type–though I could write pages about each.

I wasn’t at Havas’ shop long when he invited me to lunch to tell me that my job was not in jeopardy. He didn’t give details, which was appropriate, but he’d had to fire an account exec and didn’t want me to think I was next—last in first out. Another time he called in from a trip to learn that a supplier was asking about an unpaid bill. He immediately instructed the office manager to cut and mail the check. We got good prices from the suppliers—loyalty went both ways.

A freelance person was doing the work I’d been hired to do. There was plenty for both of us. I had one weekend to get my arms around an account and its products and write a press kit full of releases for an impending press conference. That Monday the freelancer, Havas and the AE who seemed unable to do the job, met to review the material before sending it to the client for approval. After witnessing the snarky, nasty approach of the freelancer, who was trying to discredit what I’d written, he got up, said, “You all work this out among yourselves,” and left the room. She wasn’t around for long after that though had she not been so nasty she might well have been.

Havas ran the agency well and took the term profit sharing seriously—and so he shared. Another plus: I like the man.

Bob Schwartz ran the first agency I worked for which was one of the largest in the U.S. When he entered a room I thought someone had turned up the lights between his smile and presence. The agency made up a title for me when I joined—writer–after the magazine I worked for folded: I had zero PR and little relevant experience.

The agency had a major crisis minutes after I was promoted to AE. They discovered the billing department director had absconded with a large sum of money. My raise was delayed and when my boss told Schwartz she was afraid I’d leave, he had me in his office to assure me that the raise would be retroactive as soon as things settled down. Remember: I was at the bottom of a large totem pole but he wasn’t an arrogant president. He was the kind of boss who would pick up a secretary’s phone if he was walking by and nobody else was around and, in spite of his title, he rolled up his sleeves and collated the entry to the industry’s most prestigious award late into the night before the deadline–along with the others in the group.

Do you currently or have you worked for a great president?

Service of Some of My Best Friends Have Been Office Friends

Monday, January 7th, 2019

I’ve often told the story of an office friend at my first job after college who called in sick for a week and returned to the office with a nice tan. She’d spent seven days in Florida. We worked in NYC and it was winter. I knew her plan and was relieved that the boss didn’t ask me anything about her absence or state of health. I’d never have the nerve to pull such a ruse then or now and wouldn’t have been thrilled to have to cover for her. We were close enough that we attended our respective weddings.

Melissa Dahl wrote “Why Work Friendships Can Be So Awkward” pointing first to a set of ex friends. Why?  One felt betrayed when the other voted against his proposal in a meeting. Another example: friends tired of fixing the mistakes of a pal who is terrible at his/her job.

In her New York Times article Dahl quoted Rutgers associate professor of human resource management Jessica Methot, PhD, who said: “You’re co-workers first and friends second.”

Dr. Methot observed that office friends “don’t address problems they have with each other.” She found “One of the problems we see is that people who become closer with each other don’t actually communicate well. We see this with spouses really frequently—they expect the other person to read their mind and we see a watered down version of that in friendships. ‘You already know this about me, do we really need to talk about it?’”

Did any of your office friendships last after you changed jobs? Have you succeeded most easily in the workplace when you made no office friendships? Were you ever placed in an awkward spot involving an office friend? How did that impact the relationship?


Service of Loyalty

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Orchids for blog Jan 2016 002

Loyalty to my belongings has been a lifelong fault: You’d think I grew up during the 1929 Depression. What’s strange is that I’m fascinated by what’s new, love attending trade shows to be among the first to see the latest, adore to shop to enhance my wardrobe and buy gifts and I’m in awe of/admire innovation.

I realize that by taking loyalty to the next level, [jargon I despise], I’m being un-American because I’m not helping the economy. Here are examples:

I kept my first car 16 years even though at the end it broke down more than it ran. I remember a conversation with my father, the king of frugality. I’d called him to explain why I’d be late because the Dodge Dart had stopped running [again], this time on Park Avenue in the 30s. He said, “Maybe it’s time to give it up.” For him to say that was a shock!

The window of a basement laundry room of a co-op we once lived in was filled with orchids discarded by tenants once their flowers had finished blooming. [The plants were rescued from the trash by staff.] In our apartment our orchids bloomed on and off throughout the year. When we moved during a bitter winter in which they were exposed several times to frigid air and wind, the orchids suffered. Landing in a different place, with unfamiliar light and ridiculous amounts of heat, I didn’t hold out much hope for them. We never gave up and over the holidays, [see the photo above] they all burst into bloom!

Outdoor thermometerLast weekend I taped a thermometer’s suction cup to our bedroom window. Its ability to adhere had given out and yet it seemed a waste to toss it. When we wake up at the house, about the first thing we do in any season is to check the outside temperature. This stalwart gadget lived through quite a few winters, even last year’s blizzards and ice. It deserves another chance.

My brilliant IT man resuscitated my ancient Blackberry when it decided to stop showing emails. It does everything I need so why spend money and time to learn a new system when I already own a terrific device?

I worry every time I use our washer/dryer because Mr. Hobson, the crack repair man, is no longer in business. He also sold appliances and couldn’t compete with the big boxes. If the smallest glitch happens, we’ll be forced to toss and replace.

Do you know others like me? Are there antidotes?

Orchids for blog Jan 2016 004 flip sml

Service of Where There’s a Will

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Huguette Clark was a recluse copper heiress who died two years ago at 104. She wrote two wills within months of one another. In the first one she left money to distant family members–she had no surviving close relatives and hardly saw or heard from most in any case. One sent Christmas cards from 2007-2010.

In the second will she left them not a cent and made it clear that it was her intention “having had minimal contact with them over the years,” according to Anemona Hartocollis in “Two Wills, One Private Heiress” in The New York Times. [Photo below, right, is David Wilkie’s painting “Reading the Will,” courtesy Wikipedia.]

The bulk of the second will consisted of the California mansion, Bellosguardo, its contents–art and music collections–which she formed into an art foundation and there were gifts to “her goddaughter; her primary doctor, Henry Singman; her accountant, Irving Kamsler; her lawyer, Wallace Bock; and Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan, where she lived for the last 20 years of her life. Mrs. Clark’s longtime nurse, Hadassah Peri, would receive her rare doll collection and 60 percent of whatever was left — potentially millions — after the other bequests were made. (Mrs. Peri also received more than $31 million in property, cash and gifts outside the will, according to court papers.)”

Surprise: The “family” has contested the will.

Survivors are descendants of her father and his first wife. There are 19 trying to establish whether they ever met or spoke with Mrs. Clark. Some claim to have seen her in the 1940s or 1950s.

She chose to live in neither the California mansion nor a huge NYC apartment. She preferred Beth Israel hospital, where she set up house from 1991 to her death because there she felt cared for.  

Hartocollis points to key questions brought on by this will: “How is wealth transferred in later generations? What does an elderly person owe relatives who hardly knew her and did not take care for her in her dotage, as opposed to the hired help who did? Do family ties still bind between people who have never even met?”

Do you agree that these questions are at the heart of the matter? Do you believe half blood is thicker than water?

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