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Four Very Scary Words

denial of peril

Last week, we discussed the troubled company GKIC and how its freefall and recent ouster of its CEO relates to Jim Collins’ “Five Stages Of Decline.”

More than 20 new members, long-time members and former members shared their thoughts on the matter with me. Some said they saw it coming, some offered possible solutions. All agreed with me that things are fundamentally very wrong with GKIC.

And in case you were wondering which of “The Five Stages Of Decline” GKIC is in…

Yesterday, a full week after the departure of their former CEO, GKIC’s COO and CMO sent out an email to their members which made no acknowledgement of or apology for any troubles or missteps. Sandwiched around a list of “some of the new things you will be seeing” were these two statements:

  1. “As you might have already heard, Bette Tomaszewicz has decided to leave GKIC to pursue other opportunities outside of our industry.”
  2. “We continue to grow together and become stronger, as individuals and as a team….our success could not be without YOU!”

As a certified “Independent Business Advisor” of GKIC, I also received more than one communication from one of the company’s leaders over the past week that included a very scary and delusional four-word phrase: “it’s business as usual.”

I’m sure that phrase was meant to calm people down, just like when a police officer tries to clear an unruly mob from a gruesome murder scene by telling them, “Everything’s fine. Nothing to see here. Move along.”

But as Jim Collins explains in his best-selling book, “How The Mighty Fall,” these communications are clear signs that GKIC is at best in Stage 3: “Denial Of Risk And Peril.”

And that’s very troubling to those of us who are members, customers, supporters and fans of the company.

How could any leader inside a company which just ousted its CEO in a move so hasty that it didn’t even have an “interim” leader in place for about a week – and still has no long-term solution anywhere in sight – be so delusional or dishonest to say “we continue to grow together and become stronger” or to claim that “business as usual” is a good thing?

I’m all for “getting over the past” and “moving forward,” but shouldn’t that begin with being honest and aware of the present troubling circumstances?

As a life-long, loyal New York Jets fan, I can tell you that after yet another dismal performance by our team’s quarterback resulting in his mid-game benching, no Jets fan wants to hear, “Don’t worry. It’s business as usual.”

Instead, we want the team’s owners to tell us, “We know the team is in trouble, and we promise to make whatever major changes it takes to fix it.”

As one of GKIC’s certified “Independent Business Advisors,” I’ve spent much of the past four-plus years promoting the company and defending its actions. But that role has grown increasingly difficult since the new ownership took over in March 2011.

Since then, “business as usual,” from what I hear, has meant a consistent decline in overall membership and major event attendance, and an increase in customer complaints about the attitude and actions of the new management.

And most disturbing of all is how unhappy many long-time customers of the company like me are about the lack of respect shown for the company’s co-founder, Dan Kennedy, widely regarded as the #1 small business marketing expert alive today.

The CEO took the fall for all of this, much in the same way that a losing sports team fires its coach. But even the most casual observer has to see that the problem goes much deeper than that.

Bottom-line: I still believe that the company can be saved.

But that challenge needs to start with the company’s management being forthright and honest about its failures, and declaring its intention to make major changes in attitude, personnel and overall direction.

I, for one, am certainly rooting for that to happen – before it’s too late.

How about you? What’s your opinion?

2 Responses to Four Very Scary Words

  1. Ben Glass Reply

    December 5, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Bringing back Bill Glazer would be very cool but Steve, I suspect it will never actually be ‘the way it was’. That being said, it’s up to each one of us to make the best if our own lives. There’s a lot of great, great people in the membership. I do look forward to visiting with you at a future event!

  2. Jarrod Cash Reply

    December 9, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    Thanks for saying the things that a lot of us have been thinking Steve. I’m a former IBA for GKIC & a life long Dan fan. My involvement with GKIC ended just prior to the new ownership, as I began to see the writing on the wall. Kudo’s to you for sticking with the IBA program. I visited the GKIC website the other day after about a year was was amazed to see that they weren’t even following Dan Kennedy principles of direct reponse advertising on their own website. I love Dan Kennedy, Bill Glazer, Lee Milteer, but one look at the alphabet soup behind everyone elses name there is enough to keep me away. CEO, COO CFO….. E-I-E-I-O….. that crap dooms most companies, just as Dan says in his old-school material.

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