Work/Life: When bright, talented young things can endanger your business

Last post I talked about a young tour company director hell bent on enforcing the P(olicy)-word, even at the risk of sending despondent customers away, so they could tell ten others how sad they were.


Last post
I talked about a young tour company director hell bent on enforcing the P(olicy)-word, even at the risk of sending despondent customers away, so they could tell ten others how sad they were.


To his credit, he eventually relented, but insisted I was out of line for going in to bat for them. He called me some names and ordered me to cease and desist from telling him “how to run his business”. Note to self: you will always be accused of this if you open your mouth to talk about anything other than the weather.

I wondered why he was so adamant that he was right and I was so wrong. Then I remembered how old he was – 25-ish. Now let me state at the outset I am duly awed by brilliant young entrepreneurs of the Google epoch, heading up companies at an age when I was still huddled in a carpeted cubicle shuffling papers in an intray and keeping track of my flextime. Yes, they probably own the McMansion shadowing my walkup. They probably worked out how this new FastCompany blog site works where it’s taken me two weeks.

Just don’t let them near my customers unsupervised.

I’m already half expecting a customer’s colonoscopy to appear on a bunch of Facebook funwalls thanks to the youthful exuberance that runs that show.

Interestingly, he kept leveling the phrase “industry standard” at me, as if that was the sole selling point of his offering. A bit like telling me to buy his condo because it has an oblong shaped door that opens inward …

I believe a small, lean business cannot afford to “fill ‘er up with standard” and expect to succeed, unless you’re a trust fund baby running an Alpaca hobby farm LLC. You’ve got to fill ’em up with “super”, in ways the big guns can’t – by being personal, personable and flexible – because you can. Ten thousand bad mouthings and a damning DVD haven’t sent Wal*Mart under, where would ten leave you?


I thought I’d test my young policy protagonist’s “industry standard” claim against other tour company principals we work with. Their responses:

Ciao Lynette
… I have learned the hard way that it does not pay and is simply not very kind to be rigid when you are dealing with people you care about with regards to their precious vacation time. Turning someone into an enemy is never worth it …
– Lauren Hefferon, Ciclismo Classico

Our customers are our appreciated guests (unless they insist on proving themselves otherwise), not military recruits to a boot camp nor livestock to be herded around … there’s actually a tour company that would rather incur a word-of-mouth disaster than gain 2 happy clients who’d talk up what great service they got? – Michael Khaw, Agile Compass

I’m sorta shocked that a legitimate biz would treat someone like this (and risk the bad karma/negative PR) … – Rob Templin, Second Summer Tours

I am surprised by the stranding, it is hard to imagine that orientation would be so important that you would drop a guest because they missed it – Tom Sheehan, Pedalers Pub and Grille

there are always two sides to a dispute, but if what you sent about the touring company is actually the case, it will be out of business in a few years – Jerry Norquist, Cycle Oregon


You needn’t be in the tour company biz for the above to remind you of who enables us to all be paid.

I’ll let Lauren Hefferon, owner of Ciclismo Classico, have the last word …

How many years has this company been in business? How old is the director? I must say younger, less experienced business people tend to make these kind of mistakes (running a business like a microcosm of running your life). So many people in the bike business do not learn to connect their own ethics with the business itself … I think the bike business in general forgets that they are primarily in the PEOPLE business. Bike shops often care more about bikes and bike tour companies often care more about their “precious” tours. It is ALL about the people.

Once again with feeling:

It is ALL about the people.



45-year-old Bike Friday Customer Evangelist Lynette Chiang is from the blue rinse school of CE, where people are people and spreadsheets are spreadsheets and there’s a time and place to confuse the two.

About the author

"Be social and the networking will follow." Lynette Chiang is an award-winning copywriter, brand evangelist, social media community manager, filmmaker, solo world bicycle adventurer and inventor of useful things. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Harvard University curriculums, the New York Times Book Review, FastCompany and the relationship marketing business press