Being upfront, direct, and accountable – an example on how to do it.

Mistakes happen. When I wrote  email campaign software 10 years ago I neglected to build in a mechanism to disable multiple campaign executions and instead of sending 50,000 emails I was sending out 200,000 because I’m so click happy (50,000 x 4 = 200,000). My mistake and I spammed customers. I owned it, took accountability, and improved the product so this wouldn’t happen again.

Years later I made a boneheaded data mistake for a client and changed their historical orders going back years. Shouldn’t have happened but it did. First thing I did was call them, own the issue, work up a fix and then cranked away for a day and a 1/2 to rectify it. Does this make me special? I would think “hell no” I was just being professional. But this year I’ve had interactions with folks that don’t take accountability, don’t own their mistakes, and I’m witnessing the cost that has to quality, trust, and schedules.

The specifics of the last particular issue aren’t important. The short of it was a member of my tech team made an erratic choice during testing that destroyed the integrity of the results. I happened to witness the mistake and then witnessed that they never detailed it to the team members and tried to let it slide under the rug. Just like when we were kids, if we come clean right away its better for everyone and the fact that this person didn’t is now the issue to me.

Although it may seem like a minor incident it isn’t; the way we behave in areas deemed minor or inconsequential generally align with how we would respond and behave in major ones. How we treat people. If we follow through with what we say. If we live and work with integrity and honesty. These are traits of professionals, of fully formed adults. Of what the old-timers would call “stand-up” people.

Last weekend I ran the Green Bay 1/2 marathon with some friends and it turns out the course was long by 800 yards. Now 800 yards is not far, especially when compared with 13.1 or 26.2 miles. But for the folks who depend on accuracy of the course and are shooting for time goals that 800 yards can equate to a minute or more of race time. Below is what the race director sent out regarding the issue. He detailed the issue, owned it, told us how it would be rectified and even though a mistake was made on his watch I have greater respect and trust in a race director I’ve already heard wonderful things about. Way to be professional Sean Ryan!

Dear Runners:

Yesterday all participants in the full and half marathons ran an extra 800 feet due to incorrect course markings just after mile three. The certified courses for the half and full marathon were supposed to take a right off of Roscoe Street onto 14th Avenue before turning right on Biemeret Street. Instead, runners were taken an extra 400 feet to 13th Avenue, which added a total of 800 extra feet (.15 miles) onto the route.


We were alerted to the error after hearing multiple comments about inaccurate GPS readings at this particular point on the course. We know it’s common for runners who wear Garmin watches or other GPS devices to see differences in total distance due to the course being measured on the optimal, point-to-point line and runners straying from this line, but the consistency in these reports caused us to take another look.  We owe a thank you to those runners who weighed in on this matter.


We will be correcting this error in your results.  Gun times, chip times and mile 5 split times for all runners will be adjusted on our website by Tuesday afternoon. We have also talked to representatives of the Boston Marathon who have agreed to accept a database with adjusted finish times. Marathon runners can find their adjusted time by multiplying their current time by .9943. Half marathon runners can find their adjusted time by multiplying their time by .9886. Since these adjustments will affect ALL runners’ finish times, it will not change the overall or age group standings.  It may, however, impact whether you ran a personal record (PR) or a Boston Qualifying (BQ) time.


On behalf of my entire staff, we apologize for the inconvenience and the extra distance that you ran on an already windy day.




Sean Ryan

Race Director

Cellcom Green Bay Marathon


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