Column: Some thoughts on loss, learning and respect

Cordes Lakes recently lost a well-loved member of our community, a person who embodied kindness, compassion and love. Everybody loved Flo Lottes, and Flo loved everybody in return. Her smile was contagious. No matter how ill or angry, negative emotions quickly dissipated when Flo entered the room.

A genuine Christian, she treated everyone with respect and caring, encouraging others to do the same. She did so by example without proselytizing. She cherished her family, her church and her community. When asked how she was, she always replied, “I’m great! I’m in God’s hands!” I can hear her voice saying it now. Deepest condolences to Ken, Terri, Kathy, Lori and the rest of her family. We will never forget her.

Today is Friday the 13th, a day of superstition for many. It’s always been a fortunate day for me, even back in the ’70s when an office manager for a medium-sized insurance agency in Orlando, Florida. Insurance agencies do everything they can to inspire agents to sell as much product as possible. A favorite internal promotion back in the day was “Black Cat Friday,” held on every Friday the 13th … at least it was in the South. Black cats and other Halloween-type decorations festooned the office, no matter the month. Agents met briefly in the morning, not returning until late in the afternoon to tally their sales and celebrate.

Those were the days of door-to-door insurance salesmen selling penny policies, popular in rural locations and sold to primarily low-income families. Occasionally an agent would score a large policy with a large premium, causing jealousy to surface among his competitors. Although innocuous on the surface, participants were cutthroat in their methods, using any means possible to win.

I had worked in the corporate offices of manufacturers and insurance companies while living in Los Angeles and Chicago, but we were insulated from day-to-day personnel, our view from the corporate level often not showing us the reality of workers’ experiences. That is why I consider that job in the middle of Florida a blessing. I lost my naiveté about the business world while in that position, for that I am grateful. The knowledge served me well while once again working in corporate offices, and especially well when becoming a business writer and investigative reporter.

So many discount their experiences as inconsequential. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in fast food, or running a high-powered office, the most important thing to realize is that the job is not all about you, it is about your employees and your clients. You may wish for them to be loyal to you, but it is more crucial for you to be loyal to them. Treat your employees with respect and they will treat your clients with respect … and respect you! Bosses who like keeping their employees in a constant state of suspense don’t know how to manage, they only know how to intimidate. Intimidation never works.

Be like Flo, treat everyone with respect, regardless of their status!

Until next time.