Businesswise, R. Dean Akers had his ish together.
The CEO of Ideal Image Laser Hair Removal would send at least 50 handwritten notes a week to colleagues, employees and friends. When a buddy had a birthday, the Tampa resident would drop a card in the mail. If he came across a book he thought an associate would enjoy, he'd buy it on the spot.
At home, however, Akers neglected to perform the niceties that had made him a professional success. He provided financially but never showed appreciation for his wife, Debbie. After 18 years of marriage, she'd had enough.
When Debbie filed for divorce in 1998, Akers had a revelation: "I figured out that I disconnected. I (asked myself), why do I never disconnect with my customers and my team members? That's because I always show them the utmost respect and I always keep in touch with what's important to them," said Akers, who at 55 is back on the dating scene.
To enlighten other guys about the importance of preventative maintenance in their love lives, last month Akers released 52 Wows: A Relationship Guide for Men. The book encourages dudes to commit one random act of kindness, or "wow," every week of the year for the women in their lives. Some suggestions: put the toilet seat down, surprise her with new bed sheets, give her a pedicure or mail her a "thinking of you" card when you're away on business.
"It blows them away," Akers said.
He dedicated 52 Wows to his ex and gave her the first copy.
"She likes the book," Akers said, adding that he believes they'd still be married if he had performed more wows for Debbie throughout their relationship. Now in his dating life, he keeps in mind the business lesson that would have saved his marriage: "The No. 1 motivation for an employee, statistically, is a feeling of appreciation," he said.
We asked women in downtown St. Pete, "What wows you?"