Editor's Note: This article appeared one of Farm Journal's sister publications, but the content is valuable for the PORK audience, or for any business person.
What kind of ambassador are you?
If your company’s logo is on your ball cap, your cooler jacket or even your vehicle, you are indeed an ambassador. A walking banner. A representative of your organization.
As such, at the end of your workday, that produce logo on your hat or sleeve doesn’t punch a clock. It still adorns you, and with it comes a certain amount of responsibility.
I knew a guy who regularly traveled wearing the company logo. For the most part he behaved himself. However, when travel plans went haywire, so did he.
He was the one who pushed his way to the front of the gate agent’s desk and despite the airline’s efforts to keep things under control, it was never good enough. He would get loud, obnoxious and demanding.
All while wearing the organization’s logo. How much worse can you represent your organization?
The truth is that if you wear something that connects you to a company (be it in a white- or blue-collar format) you absolutely are an ambassador.
And how you speak, how you interact with people while wearing your logo reflects on your organization, for better or for worse.
Anyone can mind their manners while on the job, speaking to clients, negotiating with customers, while knowing what to say and what not to say, including saying not anything at all.
But can you walk that fine line when you think you’re off work, off the clock, and on your own time?
How you speak, how you interact with people while wearing your logo reflects on your organization, for better or for worse.
We must remember that everyone we meet is, in one way or another, our customer. Being aware of that single nugget of truth, we must always strive to find common ground, knowing we’re all in this crazy business world together.
That’s why I stress seeking some behavioral guideposts. Many of us in the produce business (be it retail, foodservice, wholesale, etc.) wear our logo as we head for home at the end of the day. It could be that when we stop and buy gas, stop and pay a bill, or run any other errand, we, ourselves, are on stage, so to speak.
Just as if you treat someone with utter contempt (as the airline gate agent example), so, if you are instead patient and polite, they may just look at that logo in a much different light.
To me it boils down to not only what kind of reputation your organization has, but what level of professionalism you wish to convey as well. Even if you aren’t sporting your brand.
William Shakespeare wrote these lines in Othello: “Reputation, reputation, reputation — O, I ha’ lost my reputation, I ha’ lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial!”
Armand Lobato works for the Idaho Potato Commission. His 40 years’ experience in the produce business span a range of foodservice and retail positions. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.