I absolutely love Leo Laporte’s collection of podcast shows. He is the ultimate authority on tech, hosts fantastic guests, has proven himself extremely professional and is beloved by hundreds of thousands of techies and non techies alike through his daily and weekly shows. I listen to his information on the way to work and to be honest, its one of the best ways for me to keep up with what is happening in silicon valley with all of the movers and shakers. He’s balanced, cultured, quick witted and knowledgeable, and I hold his opinion in high esteem. In short, he’s a class act that will continue to grow and dominate is his field for many years to come. Now you know how I feel about Leo’s integrity and position within his cultural community. That’s why I was shocked, saddened and more than annoyed with a comment from one of Leo’s guests not long ago on one of his podcast shows.
The episode was on TWIT (This Week In Tech) show number 313. If you listen from the time stamp of thirty four minutes and eleven seconds, you will observe a conversation between Leo Laporte, Oh Doctah (Owen JJ Stone) and Jolie O’dell. They were talking about how some companies in the USA are less than scrupulous, and then they dropped the bombshell.
Jolie O’dell said ‘Do we have to be aggressive to do the right thing?’. To which Oh Doctha said ‘Yes, this is America, I will take twenty dollars out of Leo’s pocket and not pay it back if I don’t have to, I’ll tell you that right now because this is America’. Now, please understand that I am not personally attacking Oh Doctha, but a mass marketed pervasive attitude that seems to be the new ‘standard’ in our business culture. I think Jolie O’dell had a great point, in that she framed her question with honesty, and put it out there expecting some sort of supportive answer. What she got is a knee jerk reaction fueled perhaps by someone else’s life experiences. Be aggressive, take money and don’t pay it back if you don’t have to.
Case in point. We are launching our own seminar program soon, and after we complete our marketing, gather information that will benefit our future clients, then ask for pre-payment for the class and not bother showing up to educate our students, whats wrong with that? After all, we don’t ‘have to pay the money back, do we?’. Did we follow the formula correctly? If I’m wrong, I will be glad to make an apology on this blog, but if your anything like me, this formula just feels wrong, empty and full of holes. Aggression. Let’s look at it for just a moment. I am a Canadian, and yes, we are famously known for being polite (which could be the opposite of aggressive) so perhaps I have a natural aversion to an aggressive stance in business. But, I’ll tell you who else shares the same principles in business that I admire. Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Zappo’s, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jim Rhone, and a host of others who believe that you can attract allot more clients with honey than you can with vinegar, and without being overly aggressive.
Have we forgotten how the United States was almost driven to bankruptcy by mass hysteria concerning the attitude of money, and how easy it was to get huge amounts of credit, and not deal with the harsh reality of the consequence’s of paying the debt back? And who could forget the famous ‘Ninja’ loans. No ‘Income’ ‘Job’ or ‘Assets’. People were treated aggressively from one end of the financial institutions (mortgage brokers) that sold them the loans, and then, people found it extremely difficult to pay back the loans when the economy collapsed. They simply did not have the money, so there you have the unbalanced philosophy again. Being aggressive, and not paying back the money if you don’t have to.
Maybe it has to do with core values, or lessons you have learned from business leaders you have spent time with. Hear me clearly, there is nothing wrong with being aggressive in business, but, when you attach it to the statement ‘this is America, I will take twenty dollars out of Leo’s pocket and not pay it back if I don’t have to’ then it suggests an entirely new thought pattern that poses a personal problem for me. Aggression means not paying people back money owed to them. Surely Oh Doctha knows that once something is put on the Internet, it’s there forever and it can either help you or hurt you both in your personal and your business life. I wonder if he will still maintain this unique business philosophy a few years down the road if he runs into folks who make a point of paying back every single penny they owe because it is the right thing. Jolie O’dell, you asked the right question, and deserve another opinion, and here is mine.
No, we do not have to be aggressive. We need to listen, really listen to our clients to find out how we can help them fill a want or desire, then give them the best service we can, and realize that if we are in the goods or service industry we owe it to the clients to treat them with courtesy, honesty, integrity and truthfulness because that kind of business model will never get old, nor be rejected by anyone who wants to do business with us. Everyone has an opinion, and most folks feel that their opinion is the correct one. But there is only one question that can solve this question of ethics. How would you like to be treated as a client? There’s your answer.