I started working in retail when I was only thirteen years old. My father had purchased a retail franchise specializing in computers and home electronics after retiring from IBM. This was in the very early days of these technologies and proved to be an incredible training ground for learning the core essentials of sales and business management.
Since then, every dollar I’ve ever earned has been in sales, management, or coaching.
As the years have rolled on, I’ve found myself working in a wide range of industries and markets, honing and re-tooling my skills across a myriad of goods and services.
It hasn’t always been easy. I sometimes pine for a life in which I’d been able to grow roots in one place and enjoy the steady and stable march towards my gold watch.
But despite the stress and uncertainty that has come with a more nomadic path, I have been greatly rewarded with a depth and breadth of experience shared by few.
With real-world, in-the-trenches, hands-on (that’s plentifully hyphenated opening) experience in so many types of sales and business management one gains a wonderful perspective.
I believe and have said many times in countless sales meetings:
All the most important lessons in business are universal.
It is a joyous way you spend your formative years, working hand in glove with your father, building relationships with your clients and your community. We shared with them the excitement of discovering each new gizmo and gadget as it hit the shelves. A trip to the grocery store or the movie theater often meant bumping into a happy customer and a quick chat about their newest project.
It was a severe shock to my system when, after twenty years, as our business was phased out, and I began my terrific journey across a varied landscape of enterprises to discover that not all business were run the same way.
It never occurred to me, in the beginning, that there was an unethical way to run a business. Why would I want to do that? These are my customers, my clients, my lifeline, my future, my paycheck, my reputation. My customers were my professional everything.
Alas, my naiveté was very soon punched in the nose with a depressing reality.
I found that a plurality of businesses, owners, managers, salespersons, and even support staff were deeply corrupt. They existed in a mirrored-world wherein it was unimaginable to not exploit their clients.
It’s not easy to share with you how stressful and discouraging it can be as an ethical actor on an unethical stage.
That is what I’ll be attempting to do with this series of articles. I would like to share with you some first-hand experiences to illustrate just how horrifying the “behind-the-curtains” business world really is.
Growing your business ethically is more effective and enduring.
I am hopeful that in the sharing, consumers will glean warnings and danger signs and therefore avoid the traps before they become ensnared.
And maybe, just maybe a few bad actors with awaken to realize there is another way.
I can say with the confidence born of results that it is not only possible to grow a profitable business in an ethical way, it is more effective and enduring.
More to come, in part 2…