Ethics Still Matter

As human beings, we’ve all made decisions that we are not proud of. It’s inevitable; We decided to operate in grey areas instead of moving into more black-and-white territory. To be candid, people have done that for millennia with hopes of getting “away” with it (though I believe you always pay for it in one way or another). The problem (or maybe the good thing) about today is that there is a record of everything and people are out here with the goal of putting the pieces together.

As I do my daily read of the headlines in the WSJ (until my $0.99/month trial period ends) and NYT, the same glaring story jumped out at me: WeWork’s CEO is double dipping. He allegedly bought buildings and then rented the space to his own company. Now, as smart as that may seem, in the era of such tight fiscal oversight, I’d strongly recommend checking with both an attorney and business ethics expert before making such a move.

Now, I’m sure a lot of people would say, “Well, when he started this, he probably didn’t know WeWork wold get this big so he didn’t think it’d be an issue.” And, to those people, I say “You’re probably right.” No one who is immensely successful ever knows that their ideas will take off like they do. But they hope. And that hope/faith/belief is what should drive your ethical behavior. When you begin your business, act as if everyone is already watching you. Act as if your name is on the front page of the New York Times. If you’ve made poor bookkeeping/ethical decisions in the past, nip them in the bud immediately and move forward with integrity. Because that is exactly what happened to WeWork. Don’t tell me you’ll have to learn the hard way, too.

Here’s a tip: If people tell you that you have enough money/power and you’re going the extra mile to get more, take a step back and look at how you’re trying to get more. Then ask yourself, “Would someone else see this as greed?” If the answer is yes, STOP!

img_0021

 

Make learning from the mistakes of others a priority.

Advertisements

I’m Thinking Bigger in 2019

I recall people saying my father’s aspirations were too grandiose. And, it’s not hard to recall because, even today, 7 years after his passing, there are some who still say it. While I do agree that he had big dreams, as I work to bring my dreams to life, I can’t say they were “too” big. I don’t believe dreams can be too big. Now, sure, they can be poorly executed. We can try to skip necessary steps in the process (which usually leads to us missing a lesson that we will need down the road). But I don’t believe in dreaming too big anymore. As a matter of fact, it’s not illogical to believe that you can do anything. Do you want to know why? Because others have pushed the envelope of where humanity can go and those people are no more or less valuable to the world than you are.

From now on, I’m done thinking first class is as far as I’m going to get. I’m shooting for having the option to purchase the new BBJ777X. And it’s not all about the money or the status. It’s about not selling yourself short. Having the option is just that: an option. And I know it is one I can attain. But, to get there, I must take the steps: coach to business class to first class to 777X. There’s no elevator to the mansion in the sky (though there may be on one it).

It’s not about the plane. Or the cars or the houses or the trips. It’s about the journey that gets you to the point that you appreciate it. Set the goal but plan the steps as well.

 

Make embracing the process a priority.

Taking a Loss

Yesterday, a divided nation decided that it would, in part, continue to go down a path that leads toward its demise. But, just because you’re going down the wrong path doesn’t mean you can’t pause, reflect, and commit to bettering yourself.

It’s time for us to demand more of our leaders. As I continue to prepare myself for elevated levels of leadership by taking on more roles and remaining a lifelong learner, I am adding more best practices to my arsenal. Today, as I was reading some of John Maxwell’s work, I was reminded that “(l)eaders lose the right to be selfish.”

We have to start holding our leaders, elected and otherwise, to a higher standard. Sometimes that means turning down campaign dollars from sources that lack integrity. Other times, it means foregoing a raise or rejecting a bonus so your support staff maintains its morale. Paying bills and engaging in self-care are not selfish. Shoot, even getting a bonus when everyone’s doing well is ok. But when, as a leader, you look out for yourself at the expense of those around you, you’re doing damage to the culture and community you’re suppose to be protecting.

Think of it like this: As a leader, if you do something selfish and stupid that jeopardizes your community’s reputation, you’re not only risking your job but also the jobs of everyone that supports you. Let’s look at all the companies that have gone down the drain because of poor leadership. The leaders were not the only ones affected. Their employees weren’t only affected. The employees’ families were affected. The generations that follow that employee are affected. Our decisions, as leaders, will have everlasting impacts on the world.

Yesterday’s election results, though some positive change took place, disappointed me on a large scale. The battle may be a wash but the war is far from over. Over the next two years (and long after that), let us, as follower-leaders, pledge to change the culture across political, economic, and social arenas. We have to get to a point where we can disagree without being mean-spirited and that starts with requiring our leaders to model that. We influence them by demanding more of them so that they can influence us. It’s a simple cycle.

 

Make selfless leadership a requirement.

Breaking Down Walls

Right now, there are opportunities for women who want to be entrepreneurs. There are small business loans specifically for women and, before that changes, you have to take advantage of these grants.

This generation is the generation that can change the status quo. Women have never been lesser beings than men but, for too much of history, they’ve been seen as such. Change is possible, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last with our current federal government.

You are capable. It’s just about taking that risk. (And, minorities men, that applies for us as well. Let’s capitalize on these crooked capitalists.)

Make shifting the culture a priority .

I Got The Keys (DMix)

“(People) always asking me the key. ‘Til you own your own, you can’t be free.” — Jay Z

This line is powerful. As an entrepreneur who is working to reach a point of success, I realize that freedom, for me, is setting my own grind schedule. Sometimes, I don’t feel like working and I don’t need to but, as an employee, I am required to in order to fulfill my obligations as an employee of a greater system. As a business owner, I don’t expect to work any less. In fact, I expect to work much harder. The difference is, I will be working for myself and my family as opposed to for someone else and his/her family.

If you caught my post last week about meeting Walter Latham, you saw this quote: “You can go work for 25 years for a company and make decent money and, in 25 years, they give you your watch and your pension and find a 25-year younger version of you.” That statement is my motivation put into words. That, baby boomers and Gen Xers, is why you see millennials making moves so frequently. We see that this is a game we cannot win unless we play by different rules. So we do. We come, we learn, and we contribute. Then we move on, all the while, building our own brands.

I do not dare speculate on what business will look like 20, 10, or even 3 years from now. But I do know that, with increased access to information, our generation has the potential to be the greatest, most philanthropic generation ever to touch the earth. We just have to embrace the fact that security has died and instead has been replaced by a reward to risk ratio.

Ironically, I will end this post with a quotation from one of my favorite business men, Mr. Damon Dash.

“I hustle for my last name. I don’t hustle for my first.”

 

Make professional development a priority.

Stacking Your Hand

When you go to conferences, the minute you get back to your room, write down characteristics on the business cards you’ve collected that will make you remember who you you met. Shoot, don’t just do it for conferences. Do it every time you get a new business card. And, then, use the card.

Short lesson but a critical one.
Make professional development a priority.