Thursday, December 3, 2009

Business, Fidelity, Sex and Strategy

What do:
  • Tiger Woods
  • Enron
  • Worldcom
  • AIG
  • GM
  • Chrysler
all have in common (this may take a while and is a long post and near the end I hope I have pulled it all together and would like to know your thoughts.)

Sex - so often the focus of many and for some a goal and a mean unto itself. Some would argue it is a powerful driving force and the reason many things happen in this society, some an evil and still others nothing more than a powerful tool designed to allow our species to survive via reproduction. BTW - I will add this personal editorial - I do not believe in race as it is often misused in our society because it implies various species and in nature different species cannot reproduce a Homosapian can not breed with a monkey or horse or bear because they are not the same species, people regardless of ethnic group are all members of the same species.

Ok, back to point - there has been much discussion of late on infidelity and sex in the media having listened and read so many comments I felt the need to comment. Growing up often I felt something was wrong with me because I did not have the same drive or libido of most and then it occurred to me that there was nothing wrong with me rather that as people we each are unique and there are people with whom sex or the urges is a focus of their life there are others with whom it matters little. This is no different than the fact I tend to be very analytical in my thoughts and approaches while there are some are more emotionally centered. No one is right and we should not try to change who we are to fit some preconceived mold of what others think we are.

Lets look at sex and fidelity and then tie it to business. Sex is a natural part of the human condition a drive and yet as people we have the intellect to make (albeit not without shortcoming or occasional failures) the ability to decide the people we will engage. it is a tool that while intended to continue our species also can either support, enhance and build trust or abused can decimate those same characteristic in a relationship. For some it is am outward expression of a person's feelings for their partner and for others it is a tool used simply for self gratification and its use is defined by the dominate characteristics of the people using it. That said lets explore this - often people put themselves in positions of high risk some knowingly because their thoughts are only of self gratification with no regard to the long term consequence or how their actions may affect the people involved with them on an intimate level (not to be confused with an assumed sexual involvement). Unless specified otherwise most people assume relationships to be exclusive and to become involved with others sexually is a violation of the trust placed in you as well as your ability to keep you r commitment. Heck, fact is for some their desire is the sex and short term gratification with little care of regard to the long term consequences it may have on the other people because it is not about the quality of the relationship but the quantity of the sexual encounters and the person who is the participant is not that important. For others it is a tool to they use (regardless of sex) to exploit and attempt to manipulate or control others. The first two focus on self and these with these in your mind I will transition to business.

Let me ask some rhetorical questions for you to consider:
  • Would you buy a car from a dealer who promised you a certain make and model and them sold it to someone one repeatedly?
  • Would to put your money in a bank who made a commitment to have your money available but each time to check the balance or tried to make a deposit or withdrawal found your funds were depleted because the bank thought a company trip or party was a better use of the money?
  • Would you take on a business partner who make commitments to you but each time you looked to them to deliver on the commitments they made they failed to deliver and yet found plenty of time to play or knock off but never any time to work?
  • Would you invest in an employee who thought as the emplyer it was your responbility to support with without them somehow contributing to the well being of the company?
  • As a comporation would you retain a desity manager who thought their job was to discourage the development of introduction of new business who spending the company money to attend conferences and entertain themselves?
Entrepreneurs understand one thing almost universally - the easy past, the fun and entertaining one often is rarely the best. Conforming to the lowest common denominator instead of striving to be and achieve the best in the best mutual benefit or all involved is at best counter productive at worst mutually destructive. Regardless of the application in one's personal or business life character (not pleasure) is what we appreciate and respect. Consider this - in your life who stands out - those people who agreed with everything you said and gave you everything you wanted or those who did and acted in your best interest even if sometimes that meant depriving you of (per your preconception of the time of an experience). A child feels heat and wants to stick their hand in a fire the adult knows the damage that can cause depending on exposure and discourages the action and too often for this the adult is chastised. Taking a different example while not getting to deeply religious Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Mohammad, Sun Tzu, Martin Luther, The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, and many others are remember and respected not for their ability to conform and blend in to the status quo but are respected because they strive to achieve something more and did not subscribe to conventional wisdom.
  • Can you name Romans who stood around in Christ's time telling him he was wrong?
  • Can you name the people who told Steve Jobs Apple was a pipe dream would never work?
  • Can you name the people who told Michael Dell the ideal will not work?
  • Can you name the people who laughed at Bill Gates and Microsoft?
  • Can you name the people who told Colin Powell he would never be a General?

Status quo is easy. Doing what everyone else does is easy. Following our instincts to think of self first with no regards to others is easy.

Let me close with this thoughts to tie it all together:
  • What do you think would have occured with Enron if instead of tring to exploit their customers, employees and investors they asked - how would this benfit the company long term and will this decision contribute to or take aware from the reputation and financial stability of the company long term?
  • What do you think would have happened with GM if they asked the question - how would this decision affect the company, it reputation and profitability and are we truly listening to and providing our customers with the goods and services they want?
  • What do you think would have happened with AIG if they adopted the attitude of we exist to bring value to the clients who entrust their moneys with use and lived up to their vision: To be the world’s first-choice provider of insurance and financial services. We will create unmatched value for our customers, colleagues, business partners and shareholders as we contribute to the growth of sustainable, prosperous communities.
Some more thoughts to consider:
  • How many times have to said something in anger and felt good at the moment only to realize in hindsight your action irreparably damaged and cost you a relationship?
  • How many times have you looked at a bigger house or a car and wanted that even (while extreme) cursing or bad mouthing the person who had them not even knowing if they could afford them while forgetting about the fact your needs were taken care of?
  • How many times have you begrudged the work that you had thinking this is beneath me or I am unhappy forgetting that you had your health, employment and the ability to do the work and earn some income (the dignity of honest labor)?
What do you think?
  • Is a relationship about personal gratifacation and explotation regardless of the cost or damage to the others involved so long as it allows a person to derive personal short term benefit and pleasure or to bring mutual benefit with effort to everyone involved to varying degrees?
  • Does a business exist to make money by exploit share holder, employees, and clients/customers or does it exist to create values, worth and wealth to varying degrees to all of this constituents?
Which is the the most constructive and sustainable?

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