Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Building on Values

“I don’t subscribe to the thesis, ‘Let the buyer beware,’” said the late writer Isaac Asimov. “I prefer the disregarded one that goes, ‘Let the seller be honest.’”

Look at the financial problems of today's world. How many of these problems were the result of inferior products (dubious mortgages, in this case) sold to unaware buyers?

I am convinced that long-range successful businesses, and truly successful lives, are built on values. Two of those values are honesty and integrity.

Over a century ago, clothier John Wanamaker, whose retail business grew into one of the world's first department stores, would have agreed. Wanamaker is sometimes called the father of modern advertising. He instilled the attitude of utmost honesty in his employees.

The story is told of one of his advertising people who was instructed to make a sign promoting neckties that were reduced in price from one dollar apiece to 25 cents. After personally examining the ties, the marketer asked, “Are they any good?”

“No, they’re not,” he was told.

Wanamaker would have been completely honest, so the ad copy had to reflect the attitude of the store. The necktie advertisement was finally written this way: “They are not as good as they look, but they are good enough at 25 cents.” The department sold out of ties almost immediately and was forced to purchase several more weeks’ supply of cheap ties to fill the persistent demand (Selling Solutions, Juanita Ruiz, Ed., Oct. 1995).

Wanamaker believed that only a business based on values has real value. And businesses of value are always successful.

Can’t it also be said that a life built on values has real value? And when you and I build our lives on honesty and integrity, we will likewise know success.

-- Steve Goodier

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