A Lesson from the Material Girl


If you live in Toronto like I do, then you’ve heard no end of TIFF-related news stories and celebrity sightings. For the most part, Toronto’s reaction to TIFF has been a positive one as movie-goers had the opportunity to view several Canadian-made productions and to shake hands with George Clooney (who I am told is just as charming and handsome in person). But sparks flew yesterday with reports that Madonna had ordered TIFF volunteers to turn and face the wall while she entered her press conference promoting her new film, W.E. Not only were people outraged to learn of her treatment of the Torontonians who so kindly donated their time to make this event possible, this report came just a week after another news report was published concerning her ridiculous behavior at the Venice Film Festival. (You can read all about it here.)

Reports today from TIFF’s security company and Madonna’s publicist denied the superstar ever made such a demand on TIFF’s volunteers. It remains to be seen whether or not this incident was actually true or part of a wave of Madonna-publicity-hysteria that seems to emerge every time she appears in public. But it sparks an interesting question: when does celebrity behavior go too far?

Undoubtedly, most of us are not rich and famous celebrities. We’re all just people trying to get along with our day-to-day lives and run our businesses. None of us would dream of exhibiting the type of behavior that big name stars are purported to do. But on a smaller scale, how much do we do it on a daily basis? How many times have we blown off a meeting, or took too long to respond to an email without an apology?

It’s difficult in the world of technology to remember that the people we are dealing with are just that: real people. Sure, it’s easy to fire off an email with a one-sentence directive, or attend a harried Skype conference with a client to present only pared-down facts. Most will understand- everyone struggles to balance their busy schedules and sometimes these kinds of interactions are necessary.

But when you have a minute, why not actually sit down for coffee with a client or a business partner? Send off a quick email letting a colleague know how much you enjoyed their presentation. Say thank-you when your assistant brings in your mail. Taking the time to show your appreciation for something is one of the best ways to encourage people to work with you simply because it demonstrates that you are a nice person! Imagine that!

In the world of celebrity, and in business, any stunt such as the one Madonna pulled can be seen as one of pure publicity. As the old adage goes, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” But acting unkind towards the people who have helped you get to where you are, and doing it publicly is just that: bad publicity. Other than that, it’s just being plain rude.

People will probably still want to work with Madonna because of her enormous fame. The same could not be said of an accountant who acted rudely, or a designer, or even a small business consultant.

But for the record, I do happen to like hydrangeas.


Do you hate rude people? Me too. Share your horror stories with me by commenting below. Want more advice on how to spread the kindness? Check out my article on doing unto yourself as you would unto others. And yes, that’s what I meant to say. I don’t mix up my proverbs…much.

Original news article found here: http://www.680news.com/tiff-2011/article/277075–madonna-did-not-issue-order-to-make-tiff-volunteers-look-away.

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