Your Reputation Means The Most In The Business World

As a business mentor for senior university students, I would like to share my final posting for these young professionals.

A Farewell Message: "What Works"

It certainly was a pleasure to be a part of this discussion forum and being a guest in your student community!

As my final general posting, I wanted to write a message for consideration as you approach graduation and your careers:

I believe that many have noticed that "even during these challenging times", there are still some that are not convinced about having a spirit of cooperation and giving with others.

I know, there have been many books written about being tough in business ... writing "one-sided" agreements and that the only real measure of success is the profits generated in the near term ... yes, we have all been taught to "squeeze" out the best deal ... It's "dog eat dog" after all!

Let's reflect, however, on the following:

When we carefully analyze the final results, we do have a solid history showing what happens when we do not act in a spirit of cooperation ... that "things eventually fall apart"! Yes, there can be some temporary success, but in time, the fruits fail to be borne on a shaky foundation.

Here, mentoring allows the opportunity to provide advice on what would make your personal worlds a better place to live in. That involves giving thoughts on what "works" and what has been proven time over time "not to work". We have all heard that "history always repeats itself" ... or one definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result".

We are now at a crossroads in how to manage our corporations, households and countries. Will we learn from what does not work and then apply our efforts to what does? If it were anything else - the answer would be obvious. Do the thing that works!

So what does not work?

Thinking that the pie is only so big and should I give you some, that means less for me.

Unfortunately, that then creates a negative spin towards cooperation with others and leads us down the road of conflict in our relationships. We impose contracts or agreements to "force" others to do what they would not normally do. The cycle then continues on and on until we have a "me versus them" mentality of separation, which tends to undermine teamwork and the common good of all.

OK, so what does work?

Creating a solid foundation of caring, trust and cooperation with others. Acting together "as one" in business "partnerships" so that the created synergy increases the size of the pie! ... i.e. 1 + 1 >>2!

These cooperative partnerships, which are based on trust, then allow:

  1. Brainstorming, where the "created idea" is far greater than the individual ideas put forth by both parties

  2. Using the "lessons learned" by either party to avoid pitfalls and focus on the optimum approach

  3. Using common key (specialized) resource personnel and infrastructure to reduce overall operating and capital costs

  4. Using both parties' business "networks" to gain better pricing and prospect leads c/w introductions

  5. The ability to "work together" to solve challenges early on before they become bigger (deal breaking) issues
Yes, I realize that at the beginning of such a business relationship, some may be thinking:

"What happens if they just take and don't give back? Or what happens if you are kind and fair and it is just taken advantage of?"

To that, let me ask you a question:

"As a third party that has just witnessed that someone gave and was kind to another and the other took advantage of them, what would be your opinion of the one that was giving and kind versus the one that took advantage of the other?

Which person would you be inclined to deal with in a business relationship in the future?

It is our reputation that means the most in the business world, and our actions speak much louder than our words!

So, ... we have a big gain in trust towards the one and a complete loss of trust towards the other.

Yes, you may have lost something in the process to the "taker" BUT you will have gained the respect and trust of others and THAT is the foundation needed to form most long term business relationships! So, in losing we gain ... and by unfairly gaining, we lose big!

In closing, many business deals are done with a handshake or someone's "word". Please allow me to stress that when you give your word ... hold it up high. As that is really all you have at the end of the day!!

Best wishes to all in your future endeavors!

Copyright 2009 Edward G. Drennan
Many thanks to Livia & Corie for their helpful comments and encouragement on this and the other student postings!