A few years ago, I was asked to speak to a group of salespeople. They were running a boiler room, and when I researched the company before joining them for a phone call I discovered that they took money from their prospective clients without delivering the value they promised. There was enough evidence to make me believe that the practice was widespread, and what I found was credible enough to give me pause. As I looked more deeply into the company, I also found complaints about sexual harassment and poor treatment of women inside the company. There were too many of these complaints to ignore.
On a phone call with the CEO, I suggested I wasn’t the right speaker for his group. I tried to leave it at that and bow out without having to explain my reasons. But I was pressed by the executive I was speaking to for an explanation of my lack of interest in speaking to his company. I shared with him what I found when searching for information about his company in preparation for the meeting. He didn’t do much to deny anything I said but instead said, “I am offering you money. I will pay you, and you will speak.” Politely, I again refused. He pushed back, insisting that money should be enough of the motivation for me to speak to his company. I told him that money wasn’t enough for me to change my deepest held values.
This individual offered to double the money and double the work. Clearly, he believed that everyone has a price and that he merely hadn’t found mine. By doing so, I was even more convinced that what I discovered about the company was true. I refused his offer and hung up the phone, only to have one of his lieutenants call me to ask me how I could refuse his offer. Nothing I said made any impact, and I eventually hung up.
I was not interested in helping them. I was not interested in helping this group of people to steal faster. Nothing I would have said would have changed the culture of the organization.
It doesn’t make sense to possess a “whatever it takes” attitude towards making money. It doesn’t make sense to compromise your values, especially for something you can obtain without having to do so, even if it means you must work harder, and even if it will take longer. Your character is worth more than money, and in the long run, so is your name.
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