In my last post, I wrote about truth. I think truth is often a casualty in business, a victim of ego. Few people are willing to admit the truth when it makes them look bad, or has the potential to look bad. I’ve been wrong too many times in my career to put my ego before the truth.
In my third job, I was the communications director for a dairy association. My expertise was writing newsletters. In this case, my main responsibility was to explain the value of the dairy check-off – a USDA mandated expenses dairy farmers paid to support generic dairy advertising. My secondary job was to promote ice cream, milk and other dairy products. Now, I’m a suburban kid through and through, always living in middle class neighborhoods in between the tough inner city and the hard working country. While I learned to appreciate the very hard work of dairy farmers and others involved in production agriculture, I did a lot of on-the-job training.
One day, while doing a radio interview promoting June Dairy Month, I delivered ice cream to a morning radio personality. To add a little fun, I also gave him an inflatable cow that was used in grocery store promotions. I told him “It’s not too difficult traveling with an inflatable cow. He packs up real easily.” Without missing a beat, the DJ said, “Uh, Mark. Aren’t dairy cows female?” I can’t remember my response but just remembering it still makes me laugh.
Another time, on the same job, I was taking ice cream to yet another radio station – DJs love ice cream in the morning – on an incredibly hot St. Louis summer day. I had the ice cream in a cooler and it was starting to melt, so I ran into a restaurant near the radio station and asked the manger for some ice to keep my ice cream cold. He looked puzzled, but gave it to me anyway. As I walked out the door, he asked “You know that ice is frozen at 32 degrees and ice cream melts above 0 degrees?” I said, “so?” That’s when he told me that by putting ice on the ice cream I actually helped warm up the ice cream and made it melt faster!
Again, I laugh about it today, but I never put ice in the cooler with my ice cream!
I wonder if the guy who thought up new Coke can laugh about it today. Or the person who designed the Edsel or the Cadillac Cimmaron. What about the team that developed the Martha Steward version of The Apprentice?