Survival guide: Perspectives from the field

Remar Sutton, consumer advocate, fitness expert and author

Remar Sutton

(Photo courtesy of Remar Sutton)

Want to know how to improve your company's image or how to take charge of your life? Is it important for you and your employees to stay physically and mentally fit? Remar Sutton has some helpful advice.

A consumer advocate, fitness expert and author of such books as "Don't Get Taken Every Time: The Ultimate Guide to Buying or Leasing a Car in the Showroom or on the Internet" and "Remar's Sutton's Body Worry," Sutton has helped average people save money and overcome seemingly insurmountable physical and mental challenges.

Sutton spoke with staff writer William Welsh on topics ranging from corporate responsibility to physical fitness and personal motivation.

WT: Why should American business care about public perception or its image?

Sutton: Cynicism destroys most things. It [can] destroy relationships, marriages and it certainly destroys what consumers think of products and the companies that make them. ... We see people walk away with $400 million loans and $100 million bonuses, and then there is all of this chest beating about how bad things are with the government. We all become pretty cynical [with that]. ... If you have a cynical public, it will obviously hurt your stock and your products.

WT: How can a company rid itself of poor public perception?

Sutton: It sounds trite, but transparency has to be a part of a lot of things in life. [A company must] not talk down and not look down on its stockholders and people who buy its products. ... Companies and boards have to respect the intelligence of their stockholders, which means they have to provide them [with information].

WT: How can supervisors help their employees focus on wellness and fitness?

Sutton: They have to let [their employees] know that it is OK to take time to do that, and to not just pay lip service to it. There is a credit union in Boston called Digital Credit Union. They have in their building a complete gym. ... They encourage their staff to go there. They've
made a point of letting people know that it is OK to do things, to care about yourself. They also have a quality of life philosophy; for instance, while you're at work your oil can be changed, your car can be washed, you can drop your laundry off....[This] is a company that has made a very visible, conscious effort to say, "The quality of life of our employees is the most important product we've got."

WT: Why is it important to balance one's personal and professional goals?

Sutton: I don't think you can be happy if you don't do that. There are some people for whom happiness comes strictly out of work ? and that's fine.

But for the majority of people, it is important to have a personal life and family life. Quality of life [means] having time and space for yourself ? to feel like you are in control of your space and time.

WT: If a person is unhappy with her job, what are the first steps she should take to change her circumstances?

Sutton: If you are unhappy at a company, the first thing [you] have to do is figure out why. Are you not appreciated? Over worked? Do you just not like the company? Do you not like the management structure? I think the first thing you have to do is honestly find out why you are unhappy, and then see if those things are solvable.

[For example], if you are in a selling culture, and you hate selling, you probably shouldn't be in that culture. Most people quit the job of selling cars because they find it so incredibly unpleasant. ... You have to make a pretty honest and objective assessment.

Then, also, you get to [mid-life] and you begin to look at all of the dreams you had and you say, "Wait a minute, that's not all coming true. I don't rule the world, I don't have the perfect family. I am not rich." I think at times we have to accept that.

There was a time when I thought "Maybe I am never going to be a big deal, and I guess that's going to have to be OK." That thought helped me some when I was uncomfortable with the things that I was doing at that time.

To learn more about Remar Sutton's philosophy on fitness and motivation, visit www.walkwithremar.com.

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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