The Chip Wilson Story: Crisis Management Terms to Avoid

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    Sometimes crisis management means telling the bossman to stop talking

    Chip Wilson made his fortune selling yoga pants at $100 a pop, but as we found out last year during the Lululemon sheer pants debacle was that while he had marketing savvy, he was pretty darn stupid regarding how to speak to stakeholders.

    Wilson went into a semi-forced silence (according to him board members told him it was his “duty” to stop talking), but as his family launches a new business venture he’s stepping into the public eye once again. In February, Wilson spoke with NY Times reporter Amy Wallace and dropped several quotes that made pretty darn clear why he was previously asked to zip it. Here’s a taste:

    “I mean, how women can say these things about me given everything I’ve done to build the women’s company?”

    and how about…

    “I think that Lululemon was so successful because I was probably the only straight guy that was making women’s apparel, and I knew what a guy liked.”

    Cringy, no?

    It can be difficult to tell the boss he’s not the right person to speak for his organization, but failing to do so can set you on a course down an awfully slippery slope. Some people aren’t trainable about what to say in crisis management terms – Wilson may be one of them!

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is vice president for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]

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