Why you should never burn your Bridges #181

Why you should never burn your Bridges #181

Why you should never burn your Bridges

Blog #180 I talked about My Zappos journey begins and my 5 tenants. In this blog I want to talk about why you should never burn your bridges.


After my meeting with Tony Hsieh, Fred Mossler and Nick Swinmurn something inside me clicked. I was excited for the first time in many years. It was like when I got hired at Nordstrom and everything just seemed right about my decision. The last three years at Target were a mixed bag of emotions.

I loved working for George and enjoyed my time as a peer with Charles. Both were good people. Becky who replaced George was equally great, but I didn’t have that much time with her. This current Store Manager was a different story. I knew that Target was a mistake. It wasn’t so much the company itself but more on what made me happy as a merchant. It just wasn’t me. When you are feeling this way and you work for someone with poor people skills, it gets old.

Now I’m going to walk in his office and give him my notice. I know when I leave I will feel better, but you never know how people are going to react.

Why you should never Burn your Bridges

While it might feel good to say everything you want to say about how bad things are, it’s not going to matter in the long run. A light bulb isn’t going to go off and all of a sudden change things. Plus you never know when you may need a reference or where these people may be in the future.

I arrive early as usual and go right to his office. There was a slight air of awkwardness to this as the last thing I said to him was to go fuck yourself. He asked me if I was feeling better. I told him yes and handed him my resignation letter. “ Are you leaving because of me?.” I paused on what to say next. “Absolutely I am!”. He looked nervous. I told him I found another job and was excited about it because it was more in line with my goals. We talked about the situation a bit and he apologized about how it all unfolded.

Don’t worry, I told him, I will leave and explain the reason as simply a different opportunity and wouldn’t throw him under the bus. He asked me if I really thought he was that bad. I explained to him he needed to figure out why some days are good and others are bad, it may be a chemical imbalance he can’t control. Regardless I wasn’t staying. He told me I didn’t have to give two weeks but if I could at least stay another week he would appreciate it. That next week was really awkward but it helped assure me that I made the right decision.

What I learned over the years

Looking  back at situations I  had experienced involving Burning a bridge helped me realize how important this is.  At Nordstrom with the one RMM I had issues with, while I didn’t burn a bridge we didn’t get along very well. This is a prime example of why not to. You never know who you’re next boss may be.

 Could you imagine how bad it would have been if I did burn the bridge. It was bad enough as it was. This RMM eventually worked as a sales rep after having to leave Nordstrom. I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with him as a rep but the shoe would have been on the other foot so it works both ways. We would run into each other at the shows from time to time and we were always cordial to each other. I have no hard feelings anymore but learned a valuable lesson through it all.

Earlier at Nordstrom we have the example of a manager at Kushin’s who treated his employees poorly then when he was looking for a job he came to me. I had to wrestle with the revenge factor but my better senses told me it wasn’t worth it. This goes hand in hand with “Treat people like you want to be treated”. In this case I was the hiring manager.

While I didn’t burn my bridges with Fred when he asked me to come on board I still said no. That could have been it. No Zappos career. But in saying no I explained why and did it in a professional manner. I ended up working with Fred a few years later.

Mentor advice

My dad always told me not to burn bridges in retail. He said the retail business changes too much and you never know where someone will end up. Always treat people with respect. Funny growing up I didn’t always realize how smart my dad was but he was one smart cookie. Whenever we would get together with people from my father’s workplace they treated him with the utmost respect.My dad always had a great reputation in business, he was well respected and as a kid I was always proud of that fact. As an Adult I’m even more proud of him.

Speaking of bridges, the next thing I had to figure out was how to get to work. There were three bridges on the east bay to get to the city side. The Dumbarton bridge which is the bridge I took to get to Palo Alto. San Mateo bridge was another bridge which I often took when I lived in San Mateo and Foster City. And finally the Bay Bridge which was a parking lot in the morning.

Taking a bridge in the morning was a grind. The mornings are always busy and you travel at speeds of around 10 miles per hour. If there’s an accident forget it,  you’re late. The price at that time was $2 for the way in. It eventually went up to $5.

The other option was BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) Zappos provided a discount on the ticket booklets so it wasn’t so bad. A little more than the bridge cost but since I’d be going to SF you would have to pay for parking too which was outrageous. BART seemed like the best option for me. The bonus would be the reading time. It took about an hour each way, so two hours a day for reading was going to be nice. I went down to inquire how the ticket books worked but would buy them at the Zappos headquarters.

I was looking forward to working with Fred, Eileen and Aaron again, it was going to seem like an Arden Fair reunion.

…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career. 

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This post has one comment

31 Mar 2021

Such a simple, but key point, Mike. NEVER burn bridges – instead build bridges between people because you never know when a previous relationship may help you in the future. It has rung true for me over and over again in my career.


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