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Broken guitars teach business ethics

Broken guitars can teach valuable lessons in business ethics; at least that’s the idea behind UNB’s MBA professional development program bringing in Dave Carroll, the man behind the hit YouTube trilogy “United Breaks Guitars,” to speak.

This Friday, Carroll, a native Haligonian, will be giving a talk on business ethics and how individuals can harness the power of social media to hold corporations accountable.

The focus of the talk will be on the story behind Carroll’s viral YouTube trilogy.

“Back in 2009 [Carroll] was travelling by United Airways and his Taylor guitar was damaged. Anyone who appreciates music knows that when it comes to a musician their guitar is the tool of their trade and they’re highly valuable,” said Liz Lemon-Mitchell, director of communications and operations for the faculty of business administration.

“When he tried to make a customer claim he was just told to go away, more or less. [United Airways] did not want to take responsibility for it and after several iterations he decided to use his creativity and use his sense of humour and create these three videos. He posted them on YouTube and they went viral instantly and within not a very long period of time people all over the world saw the story,” she said.

The video trilogy follows the story arc of Carroll’s experience with United Airways, with the first story being a ballad about the guitar-breaking incident itself, the second about the irresponsiveness of the airline company to his customer claim and the third focussing on how much the whole experience has helped his career and drawn attention to the similar plights of other customers.

Lemon-Mitchell said the story touches on topics covered in business administration courses such as marketing, branding, customer service, business ethics and word of mouth.

“What Dave Carroll did with his trilogy is he demonstrated to everyone around the world in a very spectacular and entertaining way just how much social media takes that power of word of mouth to a whole new level,” Lemon-Mitchell said.

Although the MBA professional development program has guest speakers every week, Lemon-Mitchell said they decided to open up Carroll’s talk to the public because his message can be applicable to everyone.

“Dave’s story teaches us that through social media, individuals have a lot of power and we can show up these businesses and corporations that don’t take their obligations seriously and treat people unethically,” Lemon-Mitchell said.

“But on a higher level, his story demonstrates that we’re all connected and we can use the power of those connections to make the business world a better place.”

The talk will take place on Friday, Oct. 10 in the Currie Centre’s Long Hall. Seating is limited so anyone wanting to attend is asked to register at Unb.ca/fredericton/business/mba/unitedbreaksguitars.

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