I love me some Uber. It’s actually rather genius — with a push of a button on my smartphone I can summon a black car to my exact location. No need to stand on the corner of the street and flag down a taxi while competing against a dozen other busy executives. No need to worry about cash because my credit card is already on file. It’s automatically handled.
If it’s raining, I stay dry. If it’s snowing, I stay warm. If it’s hot, I’m guaranteed to have air conditioning. And all at the push of a button on my smartphone.
But as much as I love Uber, I really hate their business.
Their arrogant tone of voice. Their attitude towards women. Their inability not to be self-obsessed Silicon Valley jerks.
All of this became amplified over the last week when senior executives at Uber joked at a party that they might take out a million dollar bounty to quiet some of the journalists who were writing about their “frat boy” culture and unsavory business tactics.
Let’s be candid — they might spend a million dollars on opposition research and dig up dirt on everyone who ever called them “ugly”. Do that or don’t do that. Frankly, I can see it from both sides.
If you feel like you’re being bullied and need to protect something that you love, then you might decide to go to extreme lengths to protect yourself.
My problem isn’t with their strategy. It’s with their apology.
Or lack thereof.
One of the common traits you’ll see with businesses that fail and the leaders who bring them down is their inability to apologize quickly.
Winners understand that a candid, quick apology is the best remedy to quiet your critics and win back enemies — an apology and execution of corrective action.
Anytime you see a company that “flim flams” around and refuses to make a direct apology, you know you’re witnessing the beginning of the end for that company.
Blackberry did it half a decade ago when they experienced an outage for 3 or 4 days and refused to make it right. We’re witnessing that same sort of behavior in Ferguson, Missouri where political leaders simply refuse to say “I’m sorry”. Uber senior management seems to be adopting the exact same losing strategy.
And it’s coming back to bite them big time.
Before this drama, they had fewer critics. Those of us who were critical of some of their strategies didn’t speak out because we felt like the good parts of the company outweighed the negative behaviors that they were exhibited.
But like mobs facing tanks in Ferguson or angry business leaders in India without Blackberry email service, the more you have to wait for an apology, the angrier you become. The less willing you are to forgive and forget.
Instead of walking away, you’re going to dig your heels in and fight back. You’re going to start looking at everything else that company has said over the past few years that didn’t sit right with you.
That’s exactly what’s happening right now.
Popular technology sites like TechCrunch haven’t just stopped at examining the “frat boy” behavior of Uber and their inability to apologize. They’re now digging into things like the accuracy of Uber’s revenue. They’re looking at sales numbers and questioning how solid the company really is. And that’s not a good place to be in.
What’s the lesson? Losers apologize slowly. You have to pry it out of them. And it comes six months late — way too late to be useful, believable, or appropriate.
We all screw up. The best policy is a human policy. Humans apologize when they do something wrong. They master just two simple words: “I’m sorry”. That’s all you have to say. It shows your character. It shows that you’re serious about improving.
And when you can’t say those words quickly — when you have to make excuses, stammer and plead your case — the world watches and knows one thing about you that you’ll find out in the worst possible way sometime down the road — you’re a loser.
Your attitude and mindset will drive you to destruction.
You can’t get out of your own way fast enough to stop all the damage you’re doing.
If you find yourself apologizing slowly, take heed. Fix it. Fast.
Learn how to be human. Embrace your flaws.
Just say “I’m sorry” when you need to.