Lost Your Company's Equivalent of the Next iPhone? Here's What to Do from LearnVest
Somewhere in Silicon Valley a guy named Gray Powell is becoming a cautionary tale. The 27-year-old engineer was celebrating his birthday a few weeks ago over German beers at a place he'll not soon forget (or, surely, return to), the Gourmet Haus Staudt. In addition to leaving behind age 26, he went home without his cell phone, left sitting on a bar stool. Now, this wasn't just any just any company cell phone and this wasn't just any company. This was Apple, whose zeal for security is the stuff of legend. And the mobile phone? It was only Apple's prototype for its fourth generation iPhone, arguably the most hotly anticipated launch of the summer.
Now, it's unlikely that something like this would happen to you, but what if you misplace something valuable and important to your company (and, perhaps, even more to your competitors)? Don't catch the next plane for Mexico. Instead, do this:
1. Come clean
The minute you realize a product of this magnitude is missing--one that has the potential to affect others and blindside your boss--disclose it and ask for help, says career expert Cynthia Shapiro. "Honesty is the best policy," says Greg Garrison, the president of Vrecruiting, a national recruiting services firm. "Everyone misplaces a cell phone or their keys once in a while. This phone just happened to be a coveted iPhone prototype that he was 'testing.'"
2. Be helpful
The person who found it was trying to return it but didn't know who to contact. We know that Apple operators gave him the run-around. Make it very, very easy for the finder to get it back to you. A good start would be to give your email and another phone number to the venue where the product was last with you. Says Holly Green, CEO of The Human Factor consultancy, "He should have reported it immediately to the bar where he lost it."
Beyond that, make the tracking effort a group activity with your co-workers to generate the most positive outcome possible. "That's the best way to save your job from a big mistake like that," says Shapiro."
3. Accept it
Life happens, though this may be the last prototype you get to test. It's unlikely Powell will lose his job over this--especially considering how high profile the story has become--but you may not be so lucky. Hope your employer (or, your potential next employer) is understanding.
4. Use the experience wisely
If your company doesn't already have guidelines on how and when to expose a prototype to the public help draft them. Be instrumental in helping your group prepare for the same type of situation you just experienced. "What issues have we not thought of that you could happen?" should be your main question to answer, says Green.
Final thought: "A truthful and earnest story is the play," says Garrison. (And, it goes without saying, you shouldn't take out invaluable company property to a goofy-named bar where you are drinking on your birthday. Very bad idea.)
Have any experiences to share along the Gray Powell lines? Put them in comments. We'd love to hear how YOU handled it.
LearnVest is the leading independent personal finance website targeting the 70 million women who control over 80 percent of all consumer spending in the United States. Since its debut as a TechCrunch50 Company in September 2009, LearnVest has helped tens of thousands of women gain control of their finances. Through LearnVest.com, LearnVest provides trusted content and tools to help women tackle their finances at each stage of life. These tools include Financial Checklists, a customized Action Plan, a Budgeting Tool, a 20-day Financial Resolution Bootcamp, and carefully vetted recommendations to help users find the financial accounts they need. LearnVest educates subscribers via the "LearnVest Daily," a bite-size email guide of hip lifestyle tips for living on a budget.
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About Caroline Waxler
Caroline Waxler is the Chief Content Officer for LearnVest. She is a veteran content strategist and writer for online, print, and television. She's written hundreds of articles for the country's top publications including: Forbes, Fortune, Financial Times, Glamour, TheStreet.com, and The New York Times. She is the author of numerous books including Stocking Up On Sin: How To Crush The Market With Vice-Based Investing (Wiley), which Barron's chose as one of the best books of the year. She was also a contributor to the bestselling Too Good to be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff (Penguin). She launched MainStreet in 2007, a personal finance site for TheStreet.com, which was nominated for the Best Business Blog Webby award after only two months.
In addition, Caroline is on the board of directors of the Penn Club of New York, a member The Trustees Council of Penn Women, the co-founder of the New York chapter of London entrepreneurs' salon The Glasshouse, and is a member of Women In Digital Media. She helps produce the annual Vendy Awards, which raises money and awareness for NYC street vendors.