By Steve Moran

You had to have seen the video clip online someplace of Tiffany Gomez, the owner of a Texas-based marketing agency, doing a complete freakout on an American Airlines flight. I am going to admit I am a tiny bit sympathetic, having flown on American Airlines 🥳 and felt like freaking out more than once.

We All Do Stupid Things

I am going to start by assuming that her “freakout” was the real deal, though there have been suggestions that it was more calculated than real, which, if true, so far seems to have been a horribly bad calculation.

The truth of the matter is that every single one of us had had a freakout moment sometime in our lives. I know that as you are reading this, you are thinking about yours and cringing — and also being thankful it did not show up on YouTube and TikTok and as the bunt of jokes on every late night comedy show.

Mine, or rather one of mine, was at a checkout counter in Home Depot over something trivial and something I realized I was completely in the wrong about, after getting home.

What she did was extra bad because she inconvenienced hundreds of people and I am sure cost American Airlines thousands of dollars. (I know it’s petty, but that part makes me smile.)

I found myself contemplating two questions:

  1. If I had a public freakout like this, what would I do when I realized I had done something colossally stupid and even hurtful to others?
  2. The second question I pondered was this: Would it be possible to leverage what I did into something that would actually be advantageous?

This second question has the potential to be really important for senior living organizations when things do go wrong.

Making Lemonade

It seems to me that she could actually really leverage this incident to her advantage, introducing herself as the “invisible person” freakout woman then talking about what she learned from the experience and how it makes her even better at her job. She would gain the most advantage by cracking some jokes about it at her own expense.

There is an apology video out there that was initially accepted at face value but is now being questioned by people who think it may be a hoax. I don’t know about the hoax part, but I do know that if the apology video is legitimate, she completely blew her opportunity. While she sort of owned it, she mostly complained about how people were ruining her life as if she didn’t really have anything to do with what happened. This is not the way to win.

Next time something goes wrong in your community or you mess something up as a leader, it is worthwhile to think about it in terms of how you can use it to your advantage … not in a selfish way, but in a way that makes your community better, your organization better, you as a leader better.

You will be surprised about how often you can turn lemons into lemonade.