Integrity - the unspoken secret of success.

Integrity is a word you don't often hear mentioned these days. Young men and women are told to study Machiavelli instead of the Bible, Dale Carnegie instead of Gandhi, they are told to consider Donald Trump a better example of success than Arlo Guthrie. Fraud building upon fraud within a culture of fraud leads to results that are detectably fraudulent. Soon, more energy and effort is spent concealing the truth than it would take to market an honest product made by Honourable people at a fair price. It is true that if your only concern is wealth or power than it is much simpler - at least initially - to seek those goals without the silly constraints of morality. But aside from morality, aside from ethics, consider this truism: "Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate." When you define success in terms of "one winner takes many losers," you create endless amounts of resentment that will follow you forever. If you invest rather in building legitimate relationships built on trust, your immediate results may be less spectacular, but in the end your personal edifice will be unshakable. Every friend you make brings you two more potential friends - at least. The underlying rules of true business success are the same as in any other realm of life, for life IS work, in both the worst and best senses. Who we are is entangled with what we do; what we get is entangled with both. So the first rule is this; your word is your bond. If you cannot be trusted in simple matters, do not expect to be trusted in any matter requiring a lawyer to draft a "click to agree" statement or a privacy policy. If you can be trusted, you won't NEED a lawyer. You can use plain english if you don't feel the need to create loopholes and exceptions. That is not to say that you shouldn't have a lawyer check your words to ensure they have the legal effect you wish; I'm not counselling moon-eyed idealism. The second rule is simpler still; do not presume. Do not presume that you are entitled to things you are not entitled to. You are not entitled to an email address as a "fee" for reading your content. You are not entitled to an extra browser window for a traffic-exchange scheme. You are not entitled to plant cookies or otherwise compromise the privacy and function of a visitor's computer for your advantage. You may not spam people. Hype, overpromising and other low-rent tactics are no different and no more respectable online as off, and the lessons taught in "Music Man" about that sort of "salesmanship" are as true online as they were in the era of steam locomotives. Yes, you can make a living that way - by skipping town with the loot ahead of the posse. Yes, you can cycle identities. You can buy a new domain name every week. You can move from "irresistible opportunity" to "surefire results method." But the effort required to do that effectively requires another thing - repeated, conscious evasion of countermeasures - which means that you will be eroding your own Integrity as you go about this. Whether or not your believe that matters, and whether or not anyone can trace this to you personally, it will, nonetheless mark and change you. So don't do that. Because no matter how good you become at fleecing the sheep - no matter how well you deceive them - you won't be fooling yourself. The root of being respectable is self-respect. The root of Integrity is never having to lie to yourself to get through the day. Besides, there's a far better and far easier way. This is an example of that way. Create something. Do something nice for people. Be open handed. The internet is a place of largess; it is an environment where it's not just possible to be generous with your time and effort, it's part of the "social contract." It's possible to do that because it costs little or nothing to provide free things of value - and I don't mean "Ten Easy Steps to make the Author of This Ezine Wealthy." The fundamental unit of value on the internet is the link. A content relevant link, where someone sends you traffic because it's worth sending traffic to you is the key. Of all the ways to do this, the best way is to simply be a resource of expertise, amusement or information. Why is this best? Simply put, it's this; you are building relationships. If you become a bookmark, a first place to go to find out about this or that, people are more likely to buy from you on the strength of that relationship. If you "deliver the goods" in one way, with a proven track record, well, they'll trust you with their money. But if you try and "sell" them - you will be scrabbling for the same 2 percent that every other online marketer is targeting. The other day I was looking into steel buildings. I have a large property with decaying structures; I need options and information. The first several sites were full of hype; the first one popped consoles and required that I give them my name, address, email address and phone number so that "a consultant might contact me." I was not looking to be "sold," I was looking to find out what would be good for me to buy. So the people that got my bookmark were those that told me all about steel buildings, what sorts of wind loads they can tolerate, how they can be assembled, what the rough cost per square foot would be, and who provided a one-stop solution for every ancillary part I might need. It wasn't a "sales brochure." It didn't try to "sell" me. It respected my choices while making it utterly simple for me to buy anything from a steel building to a screen door if I had a mind to. They were looking to establish a permanent relationship. My wife sells Mary Kay cosmetics. The link goes to "her" website. By itself, it's not a great sales tool, it's decidedly impersonal - but as a convenience for her clients, it's invaluable. Most of her clients are her friends. That's the whole Mary Kay business model and it works very well indeed. You see, you don't lie to your friends, and you don't cheat them, so they come back - and they bring two of their friends. There's nothing magical about this secret to success. If you have something people want, and they like you, they will buy from you as part of their relationship with you. Here's one of her best-selling products: Blemish Control Toner* Formula 3 (Acne Medication) Why? Well, she has acne, and she's a slow healer. Suddenly, she's not covered in oozing spots covered in concealer, and she's willing to share that secret. There's no amount of hype that can equal such obvious results. And yes, were I to hype it, it would be worth hyping. Whatever secret botanical formula or secret ingredient is in it to promote healing is very effective. That's the other half of the secret to success. Never lend your good name to unworthy things. There are ten thousand products and services you could sell. Market something you'd buy yourself. Market something you honestly are unwilling to do without. Market something you are passionate about. Life is just too short to spend 80 hours spinning gold from straw, folks, and it's also too short to fill it up with people who resent having done business with you once. Profit is not measured just in dollars; it's measured in a network of relationships, by how much of a difference you made. My personal inspiration is Dave Thomas, particularly now that he's dead. You don't see pictures of Roy Kroc in a place of honor at McDonald's. The difference is this: A good burger at a fair price, rather than an acceptable product with the highest possible profit margin. largess. Generosity. Open-handedness and passion. They make the difference between the road to "success" and a life that is successful. Which do you prefer?