My name is Mark Wayman, and for the last 15 years I have owned an Executive Recruiting company focused on gaming/casinos and high tech. Probably most famous for my client newsletter that goes out to 6,500 executives. Who got hired, who got fired, and all the latest industry news.

Disclaimer #1: Only Represent Candidates I Know Personally or by Referral, and Only Connect to People I Know Personally – No disrespect intended. My clients expect me to personally vouch for each and every candidate, and I can’t do that with people I don’t know and have never met.

Disclaimer #2: I’m Not Here to Judge People: That’s God’s Job – My examples are intentionally vague, because I’m not here to embarrass anyone, just highlight the behavior.

Disclaimer #3: Why I Love America – We can agree to disagree and still be friends! I welcome all opinions and viewpoints provided they are professional and respectful. Trolls will be deleted and blocked.

Several recent incidents reminded me of an epidemic that has been sweeping the country for years: Not My Fault Flu. As my Dad drilled into me, “Son, when you are wrong, say you are wrong. Make it right, take it as a learning experience, and don’t do it again.” Using a few real-life examples, let’s review the right (and wrong!) way to acknowledge a mistake or misstep.

Want to Hear a HUGE Candidate Mistake? – Do you know how many candidates told me they were fired? None. As an Executive Recruiter, it’s really annoying. Be forthcoming about why you left your last employer. Don’t blame it on the company, your Boss, your parents, your spouse, your kids, your dog’s Veterinarian. Take personal responsibility for your actions. Honesty is the best policy. THE CORRECT ANSWER: “MGM2020”, “I got sideways with the wrong guy”, “I was terminated for cause. Here is my explanation.”

Your Boss Calls You Out at Work – You are in a meeting with the management team when one of the top people gives you constructive feedback on your department. Gulp! You have two choices. You can deflect (not my fault!) or you can “own” it. Owning it means accepting full responsibility for the situation and a commitment to make it right. Everyone in that meeting already knows your department has issues, so when you deflect or choose “not my fault”…you become part of the problem. And eventually you will be gone. THE CORRECT ANSWER: “You make a good point, and I would like to get together after the meeting to hear your concerns and address them with my team. We will make this right.”

The Sales Weasel – You work on a big sales deal with a colleague. When it looks like the deal is in the bag, you cut your partner out of the deal and take 100% of the commissions. Yeah buddy! Except everyone knows that partner was instrumental in securing the deal, no matter how much you deflect. So you go from hero to zero, and like Bill Clinton and the blue dress, your legacy will be that you poach deals and screw people. THE CORRECT ANSWER: “Let’s get together and work through this. You definitely added value to the deal, and I want to be fair with the commissions. Relationships are far more important than any one sales deal.”

CEOs Don’t Get to Deflect – Had a client that was incredibly high maintenance. My friends, not all business is good business, however I considered the CEO a personal friend and did my best to help him out. When I heard they were moving to another Recruiter, I was not real disappointed. The CEO called to let me know, but tried to deflect and blame it on one is direct reports. My response was, “You don’t get to do that. You are the CEO – the buck stops here. There is a Recruiter on every corner, and I’m not offended that you want to make the switch, but don’t blame it on someone else. At the end of the day, YOU make those decisions.” THE CORRECT ANSWER: “My VP has a Recruiter friend that lives across the street, and she wants to try him out. Let’s see how that goes, and we may come back to you in the future.”

The Charity Circuit – My wife and I are Philanthropists. We support a dozen national and local charities, and I donate a portion of each executive placement to making the world a little bit better place. One time I asked a charity why we were not invited to a particular event. Rather than own it, the Director deflected, giving me a handful of excuses. I never did get to the bottom of that, however there are 3,500 registered charities in Nevada, so we simply moved on to someone that valued our participation. THE CORRECT ANSWER: “We greatly value both your financial contributions and the way you promote our cause in your newsletter. I apologize for the oversight. We will always have room for you as one of our top Donors.”

The Artful Dodger – In addition the Executive Recruiting company, I own an entertainment company that books bands and shows. One of the groups met a client at my quarterly client mixer and booked a gig directly. Next time around the company told me they would be more comfortable booking the band through me. Long story short, the band did an end around and booked directly again. They got $9,000. I was going to get them $12,500. To this day they continue to deflect and have never taken responsibility. THE CORRECT ANSWER: “We met the client through you Godfather. We value our relationship with you and would never risk it to save $1,000 on a commission.”

The Godfather OWNS It – This last example is how I personally own my mistakes. One of my Artists overpaid me on a commission last year. We decided to true up on the next show – he would just keep my commission to make us even. Booked him recently, but I forgot about the commission situation. When he graciously reminded me, I quickly replied, “So sorry, 100% my fault. Keep the commission, and I’ll do a better job of tracking this in the future.” We all make mistakes. It’s how we handle those missteps that defines our character and how people perceive us. Take personal responsibility for your actions and decisions, own it, apologize, and then communicate that it won’t happen again in the future.