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Cowardly Business Owners: An Epidemic?

In: Hard Stuff, Pet Peeves,

Yesterday, I got stood up.

As you may know, I have my hands in a boating company, and yesterday, a brain surgeon from the Carolinas simply didn’t show up for a charter—despite having submitted a sizeable deposit, and despite the manager waiting for him at the marina, calling, emailing, iMessaging. One might be worried, if we hadn’t seen him later on that very afternoon at the local grill, at which point, hot-to-trot-fancy-free proceeds to completely ignore the manager—and our shouts of hello—and spends an hour sitting horizontally at the mahogany bar top, nonchalantly nibbling on chicken fingers and talking to whomever would talk to him…so he didn’t have to look straight and meet our eyes. No return emails. No return calls. No notice he was blowing it off.


The last couple of months, I’ve been privy to a situation that occurred where a ghostwriter was hired for a fairly large gig, ghostwriting a book for a colleague and friend of mine. That colleague paid her a generous deposit in advance, and then guess what happened? The ghostwriter fell off every face of every earth. Months went by, and at my colleague’s pleading, she finally was met with a response that she would have something in her hands that very night. Guess what? Nothing was ever sent that night—or ever. This person completely and entirely blew off her own client in the most unprofessional, obnoxious, horrifying, degrading way, forcing the client to beg and beg and beg and beg and beg to get not even a deliverable, but a mere email response. A mere status check. A mere ANYTHING at that point. But guess what? Nothing. Even to this day.


In 2013, I had an amazing contract writer shockingly pull the exact same move—except upon completely disappearing mid-way through a project, she also disappeared from the entire internet. She was a well-known public figure online at the time, in fact, and to this day? Her website is a ghost town. But guess what? She’s not dead. She’s doing just fine. Her LinkedIn has since been updated (it appears she’s gone corporate), and she likely forgot we were friends on Facebook. All is alive and well. But two years ago, could she muster the courage to send a simple email? To give professional notice she couldn’t finish a project she committed to? To dignify my company with a response after I sent her multiple messages, far and wide, not only checking on the status of the project, but naturally, extremely concerned for her well-being and health? Nope. Not a peep. And this comes after having had a professional relationship with this person for many years. Someone I would have considered a friend.


This kind of behavior concerns me gravely.

I’m not sure what their mothers taught them, but mine taught me to have good and decent values, to always be a professional about it, to maintain your own self-respect, and to dignify people with their own.

And—surprise, surprise—personal values carry over into professional values. But perhaps clowns like these didn’t listen to their mothers.

More and more, this kind of behavior is happening online, because no one’s got to walk into an office and fess up to their mistakes anymore. And this is where I put a gigantic pipe in my mouth, take a large puff, and say: Is it possible we need corporate America (and mothers?) more than I’ve admitted in the past?

It is possible that corporate America is the bootcamp that so many young “professionals” are missing these days?

Is it possible the next generation actually needs to be trained to understand how to do business responsibly? Professionally? Considerately?

Is it possible our word is slowly dying?


While you won’t be maimed, you certainly won’t get off scotch free (great phrase). In fact, you’ll be fired. And fired a lot. And you’ll end up sweeping the streets for a living, because that’s what happens to irresponsible assholes.

Yet, as it seems, a lot of the folks out there posing as professionals simply aren’t acting like it, because it’s too easy to get away with it, I presume. To let a bad day allow YOU to say “screw it,” or let your own personal problems contaminate your professional ability to deliver.

This isn’t just bad business—these are bad people. And they don’t deserve your business.

And if you’re a professional on the other side of the table? If you are someone who wants to BE a professional? If you are someone who sometimes has trouble keeping up with your workload, or communicating bad news to clients? A word of advice:

Figure out a way to say it. Because if you don’t? Your client is going to figure out a way to say it for you. And the very first words out of their mouth might very well be, “You’re a horrible person give me my money back.” Or, worse, they’ll send their lawyer to figure out an even better way to say it.

By the way, this is precisely why I created Love, Business Owner—which got a beautiful facelift this past week!

Love, Business Owner: THE FACELIFT. (Not as painful as a real facelift.)


Because when you’ve got access to a searchable database of professional scripts, language & guidance on exactly what to say in any business situation under the sun—including the uncomfortable ones—then your life just got 1,000 times easier, you won’t look like an inconsiderate jack off (or feel like one, either), and you don’t completely piss people off so much that they start telling other people about your lack of diligence. The internet is a much smaller place than you think.

Just because you work behind a computer screen does not make you immune from responsibility.

Just because it’s easier not to say something…doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Just because you’re feeling embarrassed, stressed, overwhelmed, nervous, anxious, guilty or otherwise stupid because you know you blew something…does not mean it should prevent you from doing the right thing.

Word travels fast.

And so does your reputation.


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So you started a business and before you knew it you were regularly lip syncing to Gaga while kicking ass, taking orders, AND taking names—which, for the record, I hear is a mafia term. Isn’t that delightful? Suddenly, you found yourself with an extra $5 and immediately shouted to no one in particular, “I’m going to reinvest […]

In: Hard Stuff,


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32 thoughts on "Cowardly Business Owners: An Epidemic?"

  1. Galena says:

    Also there seems to be a problem at the top of your site – one too many menu items for one line cutting off your pretty face (no I’m not trying to get a job lol). Image attached since I’m not sure if it’s a sitewide issue or a browser issue. I’m using chrome.

    1. Julie Bestry says:

      It’s the same on Safari.

    2. Karen J says:

      On Firefox, too, only there’s two items on the second line.

  2. Kim Roberts says:

    oh don’t get me started! Just got ROYALLy burned by a designer who charged me 11,000 to market my retreats (I had to cancel most of them) (she started too late), create a member site and re-design a website. The website was left undone, and set up wrong so I had to completely re-do it. On top of it all the copy was shit and makes me look like an amateur on the site. I paid on a monthly retainer basis, so have no recourse now. It’s like robbery. I feel so cheated. Please don’t ever pay for design work beforehand! thats my lesson. Essentially her inability to manage her time cost me a year of my business. Please take care.

  3. lily smith says:

    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects? Appreciate it!

  4. I did a ghostwriting project for a woman whose entire business is based on teaching financial literacy to women and children. She supposedly helps a lot of women who are learning how to handle their own finances after divorce, etc. I happened to land this gig at a time when I was flat broke and going through my own divorce. The initial gig went ok. I turned in the work and got paid for it. Then she asked me to do another small project. I did the work, turned it in… and then never got paid. I am also supposed to receive royalties on the book I ghost wrote for her for the first five years after it was published. I got paid for a total of about five books one month, and I haven’t heard another word out of her since. She also does not respond to emails. So do I assume that the book totally sucked/she’s a horrible marketer/whatever, and she hasn’t sold any more books? Or do I assume that she just decided not to hold up her end of the contract? I believed in her company in the beginning, and I would probably be pushing the book I wrote for her big time if I was getting my promised commission. But instead, I now just tell people to avoid her company like the plague because she does not hold up the values she espouses. In practice, she takes advantage of women rather than helping them.