Applebee’s was in the news recently. No, not for their chicken fajitas; although, Wilbur Freemish from Burnt Scrub, Arkansas, did file a product liability suit after trying to use a skillet for a Frisbee. (He said the waiter forgot to warn him the skillet might be hot after Wilbur watched the skillet come off the fire.) Rather, Applebee’s was in the news for this: An Applebee’s Exec Just Sent an Email That the Company Was Quick to Disavow:

Wayne Pankratz, a top executive at an Applebee’s franchise chain, sent a blast email … crowing that rising gas prices were an “advantage” for the chain. He reasoned that cash-strapped people would have no choice but to take food-service jobs, even if the chain lowered its wages, which he encouraged his colleagues to do … “Most of our employee base and potential employee base live paycheck to paycheck,” he wrote. Stimulus payments and pandemic unemployment payments have both ended, leaving them with reduced incomes just as prices are rapidly rising. “This benefits us,” he wrote. “It will force people back into the work force” … Applebee’s would further benefit from the strain on other businesses, especially mom and pop stores. Faced with higher prices, these businesses would face an unpleasant choice of either raising prices, cutting employee hours, or lowering wages, Pankratz wrote. “Some businesses will not be able to hold on. This is going to drive more potential employees into the hiring pool.”

Inc. reported the story, along with three important lessons to be learned from the fiasco:

  1. Be very careful what you write in a blast email.
  2. Tone matters.
  3. Employees are not the enemy.

While those lesson may be important, their importance is secondary to three other lessons.

Copy and Paste

Please feel free to use the lessons below as you see fit. I claim no ownership or copyrights:

  1. Don’t be an idiot. I don’t know Wayne. But it’s fairly apparent he’s a moron. While it’s not possible to stop being a moron, it’s surprisingly easy to prevent yourself from making it screamingly evident you’re a moron. Here’s how: Whatever you’re intending to do, don’t do it. Problem solved.
  2. Don’t be an idiot. Putting your idiocy in writing is a definite no-no. Wayne is a little ahead of the curve here because most people who are as stupid as he is are functionally illiterate. In this case, it worked against him. He’d have been ahead of the game if he’d whispered the contents of his email to his deaf dog, then deleted the email.
  3. Don’t be an idiot. If you’re going to be as stupid as Wayne, rather than writing a suicidal email, try a stunt that at least has the possibility of taking you out of the gene pool by your own hand. I’m going to keep a tab in my browser open to The Darwin Awards in case Wayne decides to take my advice.

Wayne, if you haven’t yet succeeded at #3 and you’re still out there somewhere, call me at 1-800-HIT-SEND. I’ll send you a complete, complimentary copy of my award-winning program: Women and Children First: How Not to Nuke Your Career With Email.

Don’t Be Like Wayne

This is not complicated, kids. A moment’s thought, a little contemplation, a cursory cost/benefit calculation, and a moment taken to get over yourself may be all that’s required to keep you from blowing both feet off with one shot.

The face you save — to say nothing of the employment, the career, the reputation, the relationships, and the feet — may be your own.