Thursday, July 26th, 2012 | Uncategorized | No Comments
I’ve owned my own company for 26 years. Across the first 22 years of our history, we never absorbed a loss due to nonpayment of services rendered — for any reason — more than $18,000. In fact, the cumulative total across two-decades-plus of doing business isn’t much more than that.
But the last four years? My, that’s a different matter. Since 2008, NOISE has survived bad debts totaling more than a quarter million dollars of profit — and just recently, we’ve been handed another bag of potentially uncollectible invoices in the mid-five-digit neighborhood.
Bad economy? Bad president? Bad luck?
Maybe. No. And luck has nothing to do with this. Interestingly and most disturbingly, I believe the common exception that appears to have become the norm in recent history is bad people, doing bad things and, too often, doing them deliberately — then justifying them under the self-delusion of “oh well, it’s business.”
Our most recent example of this behavior involves more than simply a client of the agency. It involves a local acquaintance and, theoretically, personal friend of mine. In fact, this personal relationship and the inherent trust we placed in it was the primary reason NOISE accepted the assignment. So when CFO Milissa Sprecher and I decided to explain the situation and this individual’s rationalization to our children, we used the following analogy:
“This man asked us to buy him groceries. He asked us to buy groceries for six months. He asked us to buy everything he finds tasty, which by the way is a bunch of food that we couldn’t ever use ourselves. He promised he would pay us. We double checked. We triple checked. We told him exactly what it would cost, and he said okay, and everybody else in his house said okay too. So we went to the store. We put it all on our credit card. We delivered it all to his home. He loved it all. He thanked us. And then, when we asked him to pay us for all that we had done, he said: oops. Guess I made a mistake. I don’t have the money to pay you for all this. I added wrong. I didn’t plan right. But I’m going to keep it all anyway for myself. And you can pay for it. Thank you. Now go away.”
Our nine-year-old daughter’s first comment? “He knew he didn’t have the money.”
Lesson to us all: In business, as in life, do the right thing people. Ethics do in fact matter. It’s pretty easy to get. The nine-year-old sees it. Why can’t the adults?
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I double dare you.
John Sprecher, Chairman and
Chief Creative Officer of NOISE.
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- John Sprecher on CAUSE MARKETING: $50,000 Ways NOISE is Saying Thanks.
- Jim Esmeier on CAUSE MARKETING: $50,000 Ways NOISE is Saying Thanks.
- harley davidson on MOBILE: Where the Web Is Headed.
- Samantha on LEADERSHIP: What’s On Your Chalkboard?