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Authentic Deal-Making

Character in Business

For this episode of the Fueling Deals podcast, I wanted to discuss a subject that has been on my mind a lot recently. The recent college admissions scandal that has involved several prominent celebrities and been in the news so much really got me thinking about the importance of character. Character means sticking to your morals and values, doing the honest thing even if it is the hard thing, and sometimes sacrificing what is profitable in favor of what is right.

I know this subject is outside of the normal scope of my Fueling Deals topics, but I do think there is a business-related value to be derived from maintaining alignment with your character. In this “solocast” episode, I share a few of the stories that have been on my mind recently, both on a personal level and from newsworthy events. I discuss how character can be a guiding principle that helps you avoid deals you shouldn’t get caught up in, and I share why there can be a tangible, valuable benefit to making the hard choices.

A Public Conversation About Character

The celebrity college admission scandal, in particular, has sparked a national conversation about character, morals, and values. On social media, people are calling out the people involved in the scandal for their actions, as well as defending their behavior. The story has brought about a great deal of discussion of what is and is not acceptable behavior for people trying to give themselves an advantage, and I think this conversation is an important one that our society needs to have. Whether it’s the world of business, celebrity or politics, it seems that scandals are appearing in the news more and more these days.

In some regards, I feel that the importance of character has taken a backseat in our society. People are doing morally questionable things today without social repercussions, things that would have been considered dishonest in times past. When an athlete gets bumped and “oversells” being injured to score a penalty against their opponent, we shrug our shoulders. We tell ourselves, “that’s just how the game is played.” In some ways, society has become too accepting of people doing whatever it takes to get an advantage. But at what cost?

Standing Up for What’s Right

I believe that we would all be better off if we collectively held ourselves to a higher moral standard. Sometimes, that little advantage isn’t worth the cost it takes on our character. Maybe a shady deal would be profitable, but if our values don’t align with our deal partner it can also have negative repercussions on our trustworthiness and business reputation. Doing the right thing and doing the easy thing aren’t always the same, and sacrificing your character for the sake of taking a shortcut or avoiding the hard work seldom pays off.

Conversely, maintaining alignment with your character and sticking to your values can build social currency that can be worth more than money. Doing your due diligence and vetting a deal partner can help ensure that you will be happy with the non-monetary outcomes of the deal. Or, it will warn you of potential dangers you might not have considered and may warn you away from the deal entirely. As much as I advocate for the power of inorganic growth through deals, there’s a reason for all those cautionary tales about making deals with the Devil. Sometimes, the best outcome is to just get up and walk away from the table.