Years spent pounding the pavement in the entertainment industry, I learned the hard way how things work in this town. I was fired from my first job at a record company for blatantly ignoring the sacred rules of office hierarchy. Later, I was a featured player in my own scary Hollywood story, auditioning for a “producer” who directed me to take off my top and bra so he could film me for some bogus project he was peddling. It was the typical scenario – naïve twenty-something looking for work innocently responds to a casting call and winds up in the suite of a hotel. Yuck! Thank goodness I escaped unharmed, but I'll never forget that horrible feeling of shame and remorse and pray my two teenage girls will be much wiser if faced with a similar situation.
The casting couch has existed forever and this community is swarming with predators. But Harvey Weinstein brought it to a whole new level. He reigned at the helm of a thin-air crowd – the ones for which the rules don’t seem to apply. He bulldozed his way through business, wielding his power over cowering, guileless underlings with colleagues and staff turning a blind eye until, finally, karma caught up with him.
Enough is enough! Aren't we tired of witnessing this constant circus of exploitative conduct furthering the myth that it’s condonable merely because someone has achieved superior status? It has become common practice for companies to shell out millions with blank checks drawn from the Bank of Bad Behaviors without batting an eye; especially, if that person is uber powerful and is making said company insanely rich. This problem has plagued the system forever and will not change anytime soon unless a mandatory shift is made in the culture. Changing the system is literally the single most important thing we can do to get out of this mess.
For more than a decade, I have worked tirelessly to wave a white flag and draw attention to the dire importance of manners. Now before your eyes start to glaze over, I’m not talking about some stodgy, stuck-up set of rules that have no place or meaning in today’s society. I'm speaking about common sense guidelines, basic civility, and human decency.
My method is different. I don’t have a direct lineage to the Queen, nor am I a former employee of the Royal Family. I’m a native New Yorker raised in Beverly Hills who created a business to make manners relevant with a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is approach bridging East Coast roots and a West Coast style.
At a period in history where so much turmoil, disruption, and distraction persists, manners are the final frontier. In essence, they are the last stop where we can turn for some semblance of order, direction, and calm during a crisis. We depend on them to restore a sense of stability and substance. Manners touch every facet of our lives. They exist between the cracks. Like glue, manners are the adhesive that holds everything together and, if left unused, dries up and renders itself ineffective leaving behind only chaos to follow. Manners – or the lack thereof – affects us both at home and in our world and all boil down to something very simple: RESPECT.
Rather than spending ridiculous amounts of money on lawsuits, wouldn’t it be a lot smarter – not to mention economical – for corporate America to invest in a preventative program that arms executives and employees with character-building tools and know-how to handle themselves more correctly? It’s time for everyone to wake up – from the privileged set at the top all the way down - and learn to follow the rules both written and unwritten.
In today’s age of radical transparency and zero tolerance, where any wrongdoing can be captured by a tiny smartphone, no one can afford even the slightest misstep. I’m not just talking about how to politely wiggle your way out of an unwanted advance. I’m speaking about practical skills such as crafting an email to a co-worker in a civil tone, treating people of equal value regardless of status or position, and everyday courtesies such as holding the door open for someone walking directly behind you. A complete self-analysis is essential so we act thoughtfully and mindfully before we say or do something that might have a lasting negative effect on our personal relationships or professional environment.
How many more examples from Hollywood, politics, sports, and the media do we need before we take action? Harvey Weinstein started as a Hollywood problem, but his tentacles stretch far beyond this tony town. The larger issue spans coast-to-coast and must be addressed. We’ve already witnessed countless public figures lose their jobs, their families, and their lives because of sheer stupidity. Isn’t it time we start leading as a nation, individual-by-individual and set the tone for the rest of the globe? This conversation is surely as crucial to our well-being as diet and exercise.
Manners are not about being politically correct or a people-pleaser. They provide us with a solid framework and help us connect on a pure level. They are your finest friend, whether you’re agonizing over how to apologize to your mother-in-law for a flippant remark or riddled with guilt as to how to decline your boss’ Facebook invitation. They are there to save you from your worst self, to fall back on in your time of need, and protect you in the most precarious situations. Manners are locked and loaded, ready to employ at a moment’s notice. Use them wisely and they will keep you whole.