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November 13, 2004

Doing the Right Thing

This essay was originally published a few years ago on my website, www.terrygold.com.  At my company Gold Systems we often talk about doing the right thing.  I've tried to explain what doing the right thing means to me in this essay.  After being in business for almost fourteen years, I'm sure there are people who don't believe I've always followed this principle.  I've done my best though.

Doing the Right Thing

Don't get the wrong idea.  All of my talk about "doing the right thing" isn't leading up to some religious pitch and I'm not about to start talking about liberal or conservative politics.  Doing the right thing means to me that you try to treat people well and that you always act with the highest integrity.  Simple to say but hard to do.  As my friend Jim Fudge says "If it were easy, everyone would do it."

I believe that life is better if you treat people with respect and you always tell the truth.  I believe business is easier when you try to maintain a set of values about how people will treat each other.  I wish I could say that all my life I've lived this way, but I can't.  Treating people with respect, so that they always feel respected, is tough.  Telling the truth is hard too because it isn't good enough to just not lie, you have to avoid misleading people intentionally or unintentionally.

If you think that the way to succeed in business is to be cut-throat, to tell people whatever they want to hear to get their cooperation, to stretch the truth . . . I'm probably not going to change your mind, but I can say positively that it isn't the only way to do business.  My business and many others have been successful while insisting that the people always try to "do the right thing."  I can't prove it, but I believe that your odds of success even increase if you always try to do the right thing.

If you are an entrepreneur who is trying to do the right thing but you're wondering if it is possible to be successful and be true to your values at the same time I want to encourage you.  You're not alone.  There really are a lot of people in business who think the way you do.  Don't let the dishonest, stab-you-in-the-back, reputation-less weasels make you think you won't succeed if you don't cut corners.

Thanks to Bob Levin who shared a story about his Grandpa, David S. Levin, I now have a very simple measure for my actions to see if I'm doing the right thing.  Bob says his Grandpa lived his life trying to treat people right.  He didn't make a show of it though.  Near the end of his life he summarized his life in business by saying, "No man can look me in the eye and tell me that I done him wrong."  Imagine what it means to have lived a long life and at the end of it to be able to look back and say that.  Mr. Levin, I would have liked to have known you.

November 13, 2004 in Entrepreneurship | Permalink


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Terry...bravo for this article. In addition to the backgammon piece, perhaps there is something else we can put in our pocket to help remind us to do the right thing, every day.

"Watch your thoughts; they become your words. Watch your words; they become your actions. Watch your actions; they become your habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. Watch your character for it will become your destiny." -- Frank Outlaw

Posted by: Sam Decker | Nov 28, 2004 1:54:15 PM

I landed on your blog by accident and I have enjoyed my visit. You and I agree on a number of things. We believe in "doing the right things right" and that position for us will never change.

Posted by: Jeff Emanuel | Oct 6, 2005 4:18:50 PM