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Saturday, October 19, 2019
   
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Technology & Innovation

If You Want Candy, Wear the Costume

Category: Technology & Innovation

This week I started thinking about my fellow technology professionals. Often they dress overly casual. I’ve even witnessed shorts on the job, a thought that as a business owner makes my skin crawl. Times are tough and the job market even in technology has shrunk, while competition for those jobs keeps heating up. All of this made me think about Halloween and how much fun I used to have getting dressed up and hitting the streets in my annual quest to rake in the candy. I remember the pride I felt when adults complimented my costume. “Ooh, you’re scary,” and the “let down” when they couldn’t recognize what I was supposed to be; sometimes pangs of envy when I’d see better costumes would make me want to go back home and do a better job. This ritual, this yearly societal movement, taught me something very early: “Dress for the part”!

As my preteen years ushered in the rebellion of youth, I found myself wanting less and less to waste time dressing up. The candy though, now that was what it was all about right? No, as I discovered that while the goal for me was candy, there was a goal for the giver as well. When I didn’t wear a costume, my yearly bounty was severely diminished.

As an adult I look forward to Halloween as much as I always did, but my goals have changed. I love the myriad of costumes and abundant energy, the trailing laughter as feet scramble to be first in line for sugary rewards, my own children working hard at a “mine is better than yours” costume. But something has changed since I was growing up, a trend I find deeply disturbing. Each year my doorstep is still a buzz with children wanting candy but less and less bother to wear the costume. No matter the age, costumeless, their hands still reaching into the bowl, parents waiting and smiling at the end of my front walkway, both oblivious to the social contract, the unwritten rule. “Dress for success”!

This year, if you don’t have a costume you’re not getting any candy at my house. There, I said it, a declaration of war on the collapse of another institution. As petty as it may seem this problem goes far beyond trick-or-treat. It is a general apathy for the way business works. You don’t get very much in life for free, and if you did, would you even appreciate it? Halloween is a great lesson on how business and trade work, on how markets survive, on how two people enter into a mutually beneficial contract.

When you go to a nice restaurant, you expect certain things, one of which is a clean, neat, well dressed server. If you see the chef, you hope he is wearing a shirt. When a greeter approaches to ask “how many?” you always notice his/her attire. Like it or not in our society, we like to hand our money to people that “look the part.” Compare the dress standards of a fine dining institution to that of fast food. I love fast food but I wouldn’t pay the same price for a hamburger as I would for a great steak, and I won’t tip a server in a baseball cap and polo shirt. When I’m interviewing potential new employees, trust me, how they dress means as much or more than anything else in the interview. It expresses their grooming standards, their seriousness about our appointment, their spending habits and their tastes. In essence it expresses everything about “them.” Of course every business owner knows this when he/she interview perspective employees, so why do so many not get it when it comes to working with their clients?

In todays down economy, consumers are tight fisted with their hard earned money, as they should be. If you’re not willing to go the extra mile, throw a tie on, press your clothes and polish your shoes, you may not win that “save the company” sale, or retain that long-term contract. Too casual sometimes says too caviler about your customer’s business. Not putting on the costume screams, “I only want your money,” “I don’t care about you,” “Just give me the candy.” Well not this year, and not from me.

Nick Blosser is CEO of PST, Inc., Savannah's premier computer training and programming company. He can be reached at 912-356-1444 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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