In the Micro and Macro — Without Apology
When I was about ten years old, I remember my Uncle Joe driving five miles further than he had to for groceries on our summer vacation, because he refused to shop at Wal-Mart. He didn’t agree with their business practices, so he didn’t do business with them. He drove further and paid more, in order to not have to do business with them and stand his ground.
Stand his ground he did — I’m now 32 years old and my Uncle Joe didn’t finally start shopping at Wal-Mart until like 2014, he’s clearly a serious man of serious ethics.
Though he did finally cave after realizing he was basically just biting his nose to spite his face, he made his point. We all could learn a lot from my Uncle Joe.
I like to think I’m a pretty good judge of character. Though I’ve done my fair share of business with people I knew were no good at best, it was likely due to one of the following circumstances or scenarios.
- Out of necessity, or at least I believed it to be at the time
- It was a business relationship which didn’t last long once the kind of people they really were was truly and fully revealed
- Was one of the experiences I lived through which taught me it’s never worth it in the end.
Note the bold print, because it’s a business lesson that could save you a literal fortune in the long run. Doing business with people who are no good, is rarely good for business. I made a decision about two years ago, I simply don’t do business with and/or work for anyone I don’t respect.
It was a decision I made after reflecting on anyone and everyone I had ever worked for or done business with in any capacity up to then. I thought about how each one ended — a majority of those that ended poorly and wasn’t admittedly of my own doing, was one I knew better than walking into.
In almost every scenario, there was a person involved my instincts tried to forewarn me about. I went against my gut, got blinded by a dollar or was in a bind where I just needed the dollar.
However, it always ended up costing me an asset I consider invaluable today — and that’s my integrity. My character and ethics thankfully aren’t for sale. Admittedly, it wasn’t always the case but very much is as I write this.
Those who I suspected may not pay me or would try to short me, almost always respectively didn’t and did.
People I thought were stealing, were at least eighty percent of the time. My apologies to any innocent party in the twenty percent. Blame the eighty.
Friends I got jobs for, who I was afraid might not show, would be consistently late or call out — did without fail. It’s not their fault, it’s on me. I knew better. More importantly, I learned from it. I don’t go against intuition and win.
Rather than just deal with it as they say, I made a decision — it’s something I’ll never do again. I won’t work for someone I don’t respect. I don’t do work I don’t respect and I do my best to not directly do business with anyone I don’t at least respect on some level. I don’t go head to head with my gut in business.
They don’t have to be at my wedding for me to be open to doing business with them. Besides even that doesn’t mean a whole lot to the Denise’s of the world in this crazy day and age of ours. No, I just have to be able to respect how they do and go about their business and hopefully then some.
If I don’t agree with how you make your money, I don’t want your money. If I truly believe you’d steal from me, why take the chance and hire you if my feeling is based in reasonable, ethical and even obvious grounds?
The benefit of the doubt has left me financially bent over the couch with my pants down on more occasions than I care to count, that’s all I’m saying.
Who you do business with, determines how it ends up going. They become who others associate you and your business with and are the foundation of how potential clients, investors and employees perceive you. Ultimately, it’ll likely decide whether or not to do business with you.
A very recent example — Google News literally just informed me Beyonce is rumored to have walked out of a meeting with Reebok, due to what she felt was a lack of diversity in the room. She took her business to Adidas.
I get it and I respect her decision, just like I respected my Uncle Joe’s decision way back when. I learned very young, we’re free to get up and walk out of any meeting we feel is lacking anything we consider non negotiable.
This practice of mine extends further than just who I work for or those I’d purposely choose to work directly with. I try to shop at small and family owned businesses rather than corporations and chains when I can. I’ll go to a corner deli before I do a corporate chain, ten times out of ten if possible.
Though I’m not as ethically strong willed as my dear Uncle Joe, I do a decent job of it — and even willingly pay a little more to do so. I view it as an investment in the neighborhood I grew up in and those I frequent regularly. In the people who are the heart of the community, rather than a billion dollar corporation that likely cares little about it — and is ran by people I’ll never get to meet myself and determine whether they’re the kind I’d want to bring business to.
All of this applies to life as a whole to be honest. There’s too many good people out there to surround yourself with anything less, in business or otherwise. Who we surround ourselves with has a way of determining who we become — both professionally and personally. It speaks to the kind of people we are, so do yourself a favor and choose wisely.