"Business is business" is a dirty excuse

Over the past several months, while attempting to develop my previous business and now a new one, I’ve immersed myself in books about entrepreneurship and marketing. Most of them promote ideals that I already adhere to: authenticity, honesty, building trust, and the value of relationships. I don’t adhere to these principles out of a desire for fiscal success. I adhere to them because it is who I am, win or lose.

If you are the least immersed in popular culture then you have undoubtedly heard the phrase “Business is business.” During my career, I’ve encountered this phrase more often than I would like.

I am frustrated to occasionally see seemingly otherwise decent people descend to morally questionable depths when money becomes the issue at hand. It is as though business is this separate world where Machiavelli is welcome even though in this other world that we call “life” he is not.

If you’ve seen the HBO series “The Wire”, “Business is business” is the sort of utterance that one of the corner drug dealers may say after ratting out a pal to save his own skin or gunning down a comrade who earned the ire of the kingpin. It is an excuse for breaking social contracts in favor of financial gain. It is a rationalization for what, in otherwise friendly company, is selfish and often unkind behavior. It is a dirty excuse for blithe indifference.

Instead, I prefer to say “Business is personal” – because it is.

If it’s truly not about whether you win or lose but how you play the game then how we do business may provide the ultimate example of ourselves. At stake is no less than the welfare of ourselves and our loved ones but also who we are: our moral character.

What says more about who you are than how you treat other people when the stakes are high?

How do you want to be seen by the world? How do you want to be remembered?

Posted by evan on Friday, July 16, 2010

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