CEO/Founder, FUBU the Collection; Branding Expert; Author, Display of Power: How FUBU Changed a World of Fashion, Branding & Lifestyle
Respect is something that takes a lifetime to gain. Not everybody will give it to you and not everybody deserves it. Usually it’s only in the final years of your existence that your peers and l
oved ones embrace the fact that you were worthy of their respect. More than likely, they won’t understand you fully until someone is reading the eulogy at your funeral. They will proclaim while pounding the pulpit that you were a person that deserved respect. If you are lucky enough to leave a large imprint in history than the normal person, then people will write about you for years and decades to come.
Respect is something that has to be acquired by every new individual you meet, every new area in business you enter, every new dream you share, every new mate, friend, child, and stranger. Before I was able to apply it to my brands, I had to apply it to myself! Respect is so hard to gain and can be often taken away by one bad decision, or just as simple as a rumor or a lie that's not in your favor.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, we can talk about how I applied it to FUBU. When we started FUBU, we stood our ground on what and why the line was created … “For Us, By Us”! Many people have confused the "us" with the color of your skin, but the reality is that "us" is a frame of mind. If you understood break dancing, loved Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, Michael Jackson, Beastie boys, house parties, rap music, snowboarding, skateboarding, etc., then you were "us". Now days this group is called Generation Y, Tweens, or trend setters. Back then we called it "us".
When department stores told us to take our faces off the hang tags because we were perceived as a gang, or when they wouldn’t sell our product because the fear of violence (how ridiculous), we decided two things. We chose either not to sell to them or not to give in to their requests. Some declined to work with us, but all respected our decision to stay true to our consumer and product. Our theory was: “If we’re going to die in this business, we’re going to die by our own decisions and no one else’s.
Here are several rules I try to follow when dealing with my staff so hopefully they follow the same path. I also try to instill these values in my department heads to deal with the employees under their supervision:
1. Just because a person employs you, it doesn't give them the right to disrespect you as a man or woman.
2. Don't try and change people. You can't change 20-40 years of experiences but what you can do is find a common ground and learn to work in that space.
3. Stop concentrating on peoples weaknesses because we all have them, but we also have strengths! Once you tap in to that, you can then try to improve upon the weaknesses.
4. Be decisive and take responsibility for you actions. As a boss, the buck stops at you. You are allowed to make mistakes, but you are not allowed to not admit them.
5. Tell people what you expect of them and why.
6. Stick to your word, good or bad! You promise a bonus … then do it. You promise to fire somebody if they mess up again … then do it. All others are watching you.
7. Be compassionate in times of need. Your employees are people, and to show you care sometimes is all they need if they are going through a crisis.
8. Praise people for doing a good job. Even if you are the one with most of the ideas, don't take credit for it. Give the credit to the team.
9. Give a person a chance. Once an employee has let you down, draw a line in the sand and give them another chance. If they foul up again, transfer them or let them go. But if they pass the test, you have just made a stronger employee in the company.
10. Try not to favor employees that do equal work to others. Its ok to show a little love to the salesperson with the biggest numbers or the person that is always on time and works late. But don't favor those whose counterparts have the same or better performance. It will only cause problems and unnecessary urn over.
That's a couple of rules to follow. Trust me, I neglect some of my own rules sometimes as well. But when I do apply them, I find that I either have developed a great relationship with my employees or that the people that don't fit in or abuse these rules don't belong in my company. Either way, it will create a clear point of view.
I wish all the very best in your journey. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.