Don’t Plot a Takeover
One of the Mean Girls, we’ll call her Mary Jane, displayed her over-inflated sense of importance. How? Out in the foyer following her presentation, she immediately launches into “How can we make this ‘not suck’ next year?”
What sucked, you ask? It seems the audience wasn’t paying much attention to Mary Jane. While Mary Jane complained to the audience about one pairing making it to one side of the room before the other, the participants were talking amongst themselves. As her co-presenter answers questions not directly related to her prepared remarks, Mary Jane interrupts with “We’re really going off the rails here, let’s get back to the discussion…” as if what the audience wants to talk about is simply not as important as her agenda.
And to make matters worse? Mary Jane laments to the audience – we didn’t pick these wines, we were just given a list. Excuse me? Denigrating the wines served does not make you look more qualified. It makes you look less professional. Apart from her appearance as a control freak, it seems Mary Jane and some of the other local “wine talent” fancy themselves celebrities. When not tearing down the organizers, Mary Jane mimics other presenters, saying she “had to leave the room because someone said ‘the really misconceptions.’ “I’m not listening to someone who cannot use proper grammatical sentence structure,” she snips.
Another local Nathaniel Hawthorne-looking presenter co-conspires to take over future events. Yet when one of the organizers joins them in the foyer, Nate offers to help ‘take this to the next level’ next year. Mary Jane and Nate work at two of the local wine shops. Further confirmation as to why our favorite “local wine merchant” is the UPS Store where our shipments are delivered.
Don’t Trash Your Current Employer
Then there was the self-described 23-year old “personal junior sommelier.” She ducks out of the presentation complaining, “these people don’t want to learn anything, the presenters have lost control of the room.” (Mary Jane was presenting). Introducing herself to another distributor, it’s pretty clear she is job shopping.
DeeDee, we’ll call her, says she works for one of the largest distributors in the country. “Everyone hates working for them,” she says. She’s thinking about quitting, she says, because they won’t recognize her wine knowledge.
“They won’t let me rep anything but $5 box wine,” she says.
She approaches another table and begins quizzing the representative about the wine. “Tell me about this wine,” she say. Not satisfied with the response, she then asks about the flavor profile. And the minerality. All before even smelling or tasting the wine. She takes a sip. Another woman joins her. DeeDee turns and whispers to her friend. Standing in front of a near empty spit bucket, she says, “Where can I dump this?”
Perhaps DeeDee’s employer thinks she lacks the requisite maturity and professionalism to turn over sales of high profile wines.
Dance With the One that Brung You
Yes, Mary Jane, I understand that statement isn’t grammatically correct. It’s an old Texas expression. Molly Ivins’ version first popped into my head, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to use “You got to dance with them what brung you.” Point being; you don’t treat the person who invited you to the dance like he’s dirt under your feet. Be it common courtesy or polished professionalism, it’s crass and unseemly to launch into a verbal assault on the organizers who invited you to speak at an event. Worse still to plot a takeover with other presenters. And completely loathsome to do so at the event, within the earshot of others.
Likewise, if you’re looking for a job, any job, it is terribly bad form to complain about your current employer. Bad mouthing a current or previous boss is a bad idea. It doesn’t make you look more desirable. It makes you look like a whiner. Or a Judas. Or an idiot. You may have the worst boss or work for the worst employer on the planet, but don’t say so.
Because you never know who might be listening.