A few short years ago, we saw our financial world crumble as it became all too easy to trade integrity and honesty for millions of dollars in the banking and housing industries. We saw businesses, that were once profitable, go out of business. And all the while, the banks kept saying “It’s not our fault.” Jamie Dimon, Chief Executive of JP Morgan Chase told an audience in Switzerland that people should stop picking on banks.
What was the financial fiasco all about? Greed. Profits. And the almighty Dollar.
Dimon and the other greedy, unscrupulous members of the banking industry tell us that It’s the American Way
It’s the American way. We’ve become used to it. And accept it as normal. Trading integrity and even a reputation for money has been a part of our media culture for years as athletes, actors, and even politicians hawk everything from refrigerators to insurance on the screen that fills most living rooms. Bicyclist Lance Armstrong is among the latest to lose the integrity and status as a hero. Newspapers and magazines fill their pages with ads from companies whose policies they don’t agree with. Likewise, advertisers trade exposure and possible sales for their endorsement of publications and events that they may not agree with.
It may be the American way, or even the normal way to do business, but it is not MY way.
When I first started my business twenty years ago, I knew that the most important asset I would ever have was my integrity and my reputation. Since then, I’ve been outspoken. I’ve been honest. And I’ve lost some so-called business opportunities as a result of it. But my reputation and my integrity are still intact. To me, that is worth more than any amount of money I could have made on those lost opportunities.
The American way is not always the best way. There are always trade offs when you start and grow your own business. You trade time doing all the necessary chores required to grow your business for time for pleasure. You trade money that you could perhaps have spent on that cruise, you always wanted to go on, for seed money to buy inventory and market your dream. These trade offs are ones that you can be proud of when your business is successful.
I value those trade offs. But I value even more the refusal to trade integrity for the U.S. Dollar.