Don’t be an Idiot

Sometimes you have no idea what you're doing.

When I was six or seven, I stood next to my mom at the checkout stand of a retail clothing store.

I said, “Mom, are sure you can use that credit card?”

The result? The woman working the register asked us to hold on a second while she called in the confirmation that the card and balance were ok to use in the traction.

I was idiot.

When I was in Jr High I once dated a girl who was awesome. She decided to break up with me to date a high schooler.

What did I do? I tried to date her best friend because she was awesome too.

The result? She looked at me, straight in the face and asked me if I was still in love with her best friend. My face likely betrayed me.

I was an idiot.

When I was in my thirties I hired a former Microsoft employee who was supposed to be awesome.

It turns out he was a total fraud. He'd only worked there for 2 months instead of 8 years. My reference check hadn't gone deep enough. He had no university records to validate his resume either.

All of which I figured out after hiring him. The result? I had to let someone go 3 days after hiring them. And I lost tons of time and another great candidate who took another job.

I was an idiot.

If you're following along:

  1. Don't get involved in adult situations as a kid.
  2. Don't date your ex's best friend.
  3. Don't hire frauds.
  4. Don't be an idiot.

These are some of my life lessons to you.

What really scared me as a kid was the signage behind the register. You know, the photo of a person or a check, with the words, “Don't accept checks from Mr. Smith.”

I was terrified that my mom's face would get out there because of my big mistake.

I had no idea then how that stuff worked. But I do now.

I don't see it much these days because no one pays with checks anymore. And today you'd get sued by “Mr. Smith” because you were harming his character. But what if it was deserved?

Today we don't have a big issue with bounced checks but we still have issues with customers.

I'm not talking about customers who need support. Those will always exist.

I'm not talking about customers who struggle a bit to pay their bills on time. Those will always exist.

Nope. I'm talking about toxic customers. The ones who will cause your employees to want to quit.

No amount of money is worth it. And if you're a plugin developer like my friends at Ninja Forms, I'm positive that a sale wasn't worth all this.

Now I don't know who controls that Twitter account. So I can't tell you that the entire company is toxic. But the person running that account? That's someone I don't want as a customer.

I learned this life lesson like all the others. The hard way.

In one of my startups we allowed a toxic customer to purchase our product. The result? I lost a valuable employee.

I was an idiot.

Today I do three things:

  1. Refund their money immediately
  2. Send them on their way
  3. Let my friends / peers know

Because no one should have to learn these lessons the hard way if they could be warned, right?

Let's recap:

  • Don't get involved in adult situations as a kid.
  • Don't date your ex's best friend.
  • Don't hire frauds.
  • Don't accept toxic customers or their money.
  • Don't be an idiot.*

* I'm saying this in the sweetest tone you've ever heard.