Your Career and You: "We’re out of mayo"

I posted some thoughts a while back about “passion and recognition” and sat back feeling pretty good about life in general.

Then I went to my local supermarket to do some shopping.

Since it was a little after noon and I was feeling a smidge hungry, I swung by the deli counter to get a sandwich…pre-made…just needed the “fixins.”

The young fellow behind the counter wasn’t, as my late Uncle Sam liked to say, “bothered by too much business.”

He was standing there, either contemplating the future of the world…or his navel. Hard to say which.

Then he saw me rummaging through the basket of condiments looking for a packet of mayonnaise.

“Ah,” I thought. “He’s going to help me.”

Now I have to insert here that I was also fresh back from three weeks in Taipei, Taiwan, where the concept of “customer service” has risen to a remarkable high.

Ø  In the neighborhood coffee shop where I regularly have breakfast, the staff bring your coffee to your table instead of making you wait for it to be brewed (Starbuck’s, are you listening??).

Ø  The amazing woman who manages the local dry cleaner calls customers
to let them know their clothes are back and ready to be picked up.
Foolishly, I thought something akin to that experience was going to happen
at the supermarket.
Then came these words, spoken in a monotone: “We’re out of mayo.”
Not a peep about “Gee, let me look below in our fridge…right in front of
me…to get some more.”
Definitely not a “sorry, we’re out.”

We’re out of mayo.”

This is a great…and sad…example of someone who has a job. He punches in, puts on his worker’s duds, and goes through the paces until his time’s up. Day after boring day.

Sad…and not uncommon.

You have to ask yourself, though, should it be this way? Should people incarcerate themselves in “jobs” when they couldbe doing something that really calls on their strengths and inspires them to excel?

And, maybe more important, what defines a “job” versus one’s “life’s passion”?

This is where you, as an individual, come in.

Looking back on your college and/or work life, take a mental personal inventory.

What was it that you did that you really, really, reallyliked doing?


Now look at what you’re doing now…do you feel the same way? (Or, if you’re searching for an opportunity, does what you read about it make you feel that way?)

My students, both at Curry College, where I manage the undergraduate Public Relations Concentration and teach most of the PR courses, and at Regis College, where I teach in the graduate Organizational and Professional Communication area, hear this from me all the time.

And…if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve heard it…and will continue to hear it…a bazillion times.

Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t write off what you’re doing right now as a “waste of time and talent.”

Some of the coolest “PR” people I’ve run into were team members at a restaurant or business that I’ve frequented.

Why do I say this?

Because of their attitude and the fact that they “get” the concept of relationship building.

I just dropped off some clothes at a drycleaner (Sun-Rite Cleaners) in downtown Belmont. As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with a cheery smile by the manager.

I handed over the clothing and, without asking, she typed my name into the computer and printed out the receipt…she knowswho I am.

She also remembers that I’m a teacher, so we chatted briefly about my summer “downtime.” I walked out smiling.


Now there used to be a drycleaning establishment right up the street from where I live. I went to them for a very brief while. Rarely got a smile. Seldom got a “howdy-do.” Just a simple “name?” and a brief “thanks” as I left.

They’re gone now…and not missed.

So, to get to the end of this monologue, it doesn’t have to be just a “job.” It should be about satisfactionfrom both sides…the satisfaction that youget from making someone feel good about interacting with you, and the satisfaction that that person gets from the same thing.

Public relations is about creating and maintaining relationships. The mark of a good PR person is the ability to use that talent to develop and grow a business.

It’s not about greeting a potential customer with “We’re out of mayo.”

“I have often thought that the best way to define a man’s character would be to seek out the particular mental or moral attitude in which, when it came upon him, he felt himself most deeply and intensely active and alive. At such moments there is a voice inside which speaks and says: ‘This is the real me!’”William James, “The Letters of William James.” [1920]…To his wife, Alice Gibbons James, 1878”


About kirkhazlett

35+ years' federal government and nonprofit organization PR experience followed by more than 20 years' undergraduate and graduate college teaching experience. Community and media relations expertise, as well as a fanaticism for quality service and customer satisfaction. PR for healthcare and member services organizations ranging from Blood Bank of Hawaii to Medical Area Service Corporation to Boston Harborfest. Consulting services for Manila and Singapore Red Cross.
This entry was posted in careers, Communication, Curry College, public relations, Regis College, Undergraduate Communication. Bookmark the permalink.

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