Monday, January 30, 2017

Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success

“If you never did, you should. These things are fun and fun is good.” Dr. Seuss

Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success by Steve Harvey

When Steve Harvey was thirty something, he was living in his car. It was a sacrifice he was willing to make to give it his best shot at becoming a comedian. After several months of this lifestyle-washing in public bathrooms, eating fast food-he had considered giving up.

Before calling his mother to ask if he could stay with her, he checked his voicemail. The Apollo Theatre wanted him to perform! Great opportunity, but Steve did not have enough money for gas to get from Tennessee to New York.

He prayed about it, as he was too proud to ask for money. The following day he had a message from a club in Florida. The audience loved him so much they asked Steve back for a second night. The gig provided him enough money to fly to New York. Although he had no place to stay, walking around all night with a bag that held everything that he owned, it did not get him down.

In his new book, Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success, Steve explains this as a “Pushback, Pushforward” moment. He believes we all have these kinds of situations in life when we have to make a conscious decision to move forward with our dream or walk away.

He also believes that anyone aspiring for a better life should be prepared for accidents. This means that one should constantly work on developing their gift, the gift that God has given each of us, so that when opportunities arise we will be ready.

Steve addresses discipline-sleeping a maximum of five hours a night. Anyone who sleeps more is not serious about getting the rewards life has to offer. He also discusses concepts of work versus effort and rich versus success. He focuses on taking the lid off the jar. In other words, remove messages from yourself and others that will limit dreams.

Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success is a book about success that is rich with anecdotes from Steve’s life—from sleeping in his car to becoming the $40 million dollar man! This invaluable guide is written for everyone, whether you are just beginning your career or are well situated in the c-suite.


• CEOs are different in how they can
and need to act.

•You need to do what the good ones do
if you want to become one yourself.

Tomorrow will be different when you wake up,”
says John McCains, campaign manager on the eve 
of the New Hampshire primary.

You will be scrutinized like a President.
And that’s the way it will go for you as you move 
up whatever track you are on.

Whether you’re a CEO now or on your way to
becoming one, you want to be a good one. No, a
great one! That’s wonderful. That’s what is 
needed in the businessworld. Your employees, 
customers, investors, community, and competitors
will demand it. But most importantly you want to
be the best because that’s the kind of person you
are. Like California winemaker, Robert Mondavi
says, “Even when I played marbles as a child, I 
wanted to be the best.”

You are who I like to work with. You have basic 
ambition, drive, and talent. You’ll put the effort 
in, and you’ll make a difference in the world for 
all the people around you. You’ll be what Super 
bowl Champion Denver Broncos coach, Mike 
Shanahan, wants on his team, “A difference maker.”

“Some people grow up with a certain hunger to 
excel. They aren’t always sure what form that 
hunger will take. Whether they will end up in law, 
business, acting, or racecar driving. But they 
develop a desire to excel and succeed and through 
sheer hard work and continuous improvement get 
there,” says Ed Liddy, CEO of Allstate. “If you’re 
in business it helps if you’re fortunate to work for
a great CEO. Then be watchful and observe what 
works and doesn’t work. And be open to modify 
your style. But be careful who you hang around with.”

Truth is, as good as you are now you probably 
could do about 1000 percent more than you 
thought you could. And you can do it starting 
today. “Some CEOs think the day they become 
CEO is the high point of their career. They 
ought to feel they’re just beginning,” says Jack 
Welch, CEO of General Electric. And really,
every day you are beginning anew and what is 
required to be the best today is to beat the best.

Being ambitious, you (and I) pretty much have to 
make one of two choices in our quest for career 
goals. Either to


-Or, run faster—and more efficiently.

A web-based start-up CEO says, “It’s like you pass
the finish line of the marathon and people say, 
‘Thanks a lot, but you still gotta run.’” And as 
Gabrielle Saveri writes in Business Week, “So they
take a deep breath, another step, and don’t even 
think about stopping.”

Your race to become a champion has started if 
you’ve come far enough in your career to be 
interested in reading this blog. You’re likely 
described as “a very strong contributor where 
people have a belief that you can ‘get things 
done’ and you enable others to also.”
You may or may not be the CEO of your company
right now but you are the CEO of your job and 
your family (well maybe co-CEO). As good as 
you are, wherever you are, you could still 
improve 1000 percent more I bet! So how, you ask....

Well I wanted to know too. I’ve experienced some 
success. Maybe not as much as a lot of you 
reading this but considering what I’ve been given 
in life I’ve done pretty well. But not enough. Like 
you, I want to do more. Not so I get more but so 
that I don’t waste what I was given.

You likely have heard the sentiment from the late 
President John F. Kennedy that much is expected 
from those to whom much is given. And I believe that.

He wasn’t alone in his thinking. I can’t ever recall 
talking with a CEO anywhere in the world who 
chooses to sit back and pronounce, Now, I have 
made it. I no longer have to put out effort. I can 
stop trying.” Or to echo a popular movie, “I’m the 
king of the world.” No. The good ones, the ones 
you and I like to be around, would never say that.

Every CEO I’ve talked to, and there have been a 
lot, feel the skyscraper they are on top of just 
gives them a better view of the next building. Not 
necessarily in terms of more money, power, title, 
but in terms of more challenge and personal 
growth. After all, what else is there to life than 
fighting the never-ending battle against giving-up, 
giving-in, and losing-out?

ln my years of consulting to companies and 
executives around the world I’ve found there 
are two things necessary to improve,

Hard work on your part

The right hard work which is learned from the 
successful people already doing it.


There is no denying that the oldest “secret in the 
book” to success is hard work. One CEO put it 
simply, “In my early years I did whatever 
anyone asked of me and ten times more. 
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to let up like 
I thought I could.”

You and I must continuously build up our skills 
and  experience in the never-ending fight against 
laziness by putting the extra effort into our work. 
It takes steady, reliable, disciplined effort over 
time.We are not talking here about the Italian 
expression loosely translated that says, “I come 
when the cake is all made and I put the cherry on top.”

Hard work requires passion—that is, a deep 
affinity and a deep affection—for what you’re 
doing, for the sake of doing it. If your drive is 
to mainly make money you won’t inspire, lead, 
or motivate the way you’ll need to. Now you 
may make money but you had best invest it so 
you have it for your future because without the 
passion, you won’t have  followers to help you 
continue to make it. The CEOs I’m writing 
about, who add value to society have passion. 
“The CEO for the millennium has a  deep 
passion for people and the organization,” says 
Steve Milovich, chief people officer for 
Walker Digital West. “Passion is putting your 
mission in your heart not on your wall. It’s 
moving it off the sheet of paper into your inside.”

If you don’t wake up at 3 a.m. and want to do 
your work you’re wasting your time,"—Harold 
Edgerton (slow motion photographer)

If you think you’ll just dabble in this extra effort 
stuff, you’re making a mistake. To compete you 
have to jump in and kick like heck to do and 
learn you can or else you’ll very quickly discover
that, “Learning a little every day soon puts you 
far behind whoever is learning a lot every day,”
 as writer Asleigh Brilliants puts it. Even one day
without doing extra is gone forever.

Every day that you aren’t getting stronger and 
better, you’re getting weaker and worse.

Sometimes older people look at younger people
who’ve struck it rich, say, in the Intemet world, 
like they haven’t worked hard enough yet to 
achieve such financial success. Wrong. Any 
success involves hard work—those 28-year-old 
multimillionaires also just had some good luck 
and timing along with their hard work.

I received an e-mail message from one young CEO
who knew I was trying to reach him. “I’m usually 
in my midtown New York office from 10 a.m. until
the next day where around 7 or 8 a.m. I run home 
to shower and change and get back to the office. 
In otherwords I don’t sleep. Being a young, hungry 
, entrepreneur especially in an environment that 
presents so many opportunities, I don’t feel I can 
afford to miss anything,” wrote Glen McCall, CEO 
of Global Venture Associates. He also gave me his 
COO’s phone number“that I could use 24 hours a
day to reach him too”. 

(Some say CEOs and CEO wannabees aren’t 
normal. “They,” say good CEOs, don’t want it 
easy or simple but always want difficult problems 
and more complicated work. I’ve even heard the 
word “maniacal”. Hmm. “They” may be right. 
But so!?)

Let me insert a side note to the e-commerce 
kazillionaires who are reading this blog who 
might have dreamed up or invented something, 
took it public, and now in your twenties or 
thirties have made it financially—or are on the
verge. It’s good to remember the thinking of the 
late Greek tycoon, Aristotle Onassis, who said,
“After you reach a certain point, money becomes 
unimportant. What matters is success.”

Whether you achieve exorbitant wealth or not, the
race is not over. You’re just guaranteed the ability
to afford good running shoes for the rest of your
life. The race to create or build a dream, bond 
with and lead a group of driven human beings is 
where the challenge is. Every time I ask a season
-ed (nice word for an older person) executive,
“What do you know now that you wish you had 
known 20 years ago?” The answer always reflects 
some aspect of dealing with fellow human beings. 
(Now a lot of them also say they wish they’d 
known the significance of technology 20 years 
ago but the first response is always about the people.)

Regardless of your age or job level, as good as you
are, get betterThat’s what the good ones do. 
But get better in the right areas. Those areas are 
what you will find in this book. But first, I reiterate. 
The best work on getting better every day.

Professional football players have practice and 
scrimmage all week long between Sunday games. 
Opera and rock musicians rehearse and practice 
their choreography for their performance every
day. Newsweek magazine wrote about Tiger 
Woods, “As good as he was, he’s gotten that 
much better.” Pros in every field work on getting
better but in business too often we just “go with 
the flow” instead of seeing the next job up, all 
the way to the top, requires similar practice.

Bill FitzPatrick writes in 100 Action Principles of the Shaolin
you begin to fulfill your own personal and financial goals, you will find that you
will have the resources, time and peace...

“Many people only work up to expectations. Some 
work just hard enough to not get fired. Some 
people actually work as little as half the time 
they are at work. These people create a window of 
opportunity for you to succeed. Don’t worry about 
being obligated to work more hours to beat the 
competition. You probably don’t have to. Instead, 
if you commit to working all the time you are at 
work, you will probably come out well ahead of 
your competition.”

I, like you, really do want to be a better individual 
on every level. Sometimes it’s blurry though to 
decide where to put my emphasis today and then 
every day after that. Again, that’s why I went to 
the source. To find out. You see I’m a big believer 
in getting mentored by the best—whether or not 
they know they are doing it is insignificant. What 
counts is that I pay attention and then take action.

So you have to work hard, but you have to work on
the right stuff. How do you find out the right stuff?
By experiencing it through trial and error yourself,
which will take a career lifetime, or go talk to the

people already successfully doing it. Then take on
the best actions from them. That’s what I chose to
do in this book.


I swear by mentoring, both giving and receiving.

Some people let the word “mentor” bother them,
thinking it is for junior people. If it bothers you,
use “outside confidant” instead. You can even
call them “grays” or “virtual grays”—but call

Whatever, and whenever, you call them, make
sure they are all-stars who are better in some
area(s) than you. Your current job demands are
great and will only became greater, so you don’t
havetime to go out and “try out” a lot of people.
Be careful and get some good ones. Then ask
them for advice; ask them to be frank, candid
and direct—and always to push you.

“Nothing makes me madder than being called a
maverick who is unwilling to listen to more
experienced board members. I just choose who
I listen to. I’ve built my entire career on the
philosophy of mentoring. I just choose my
mentors very carefully,” says Mike Moniz,
CEO of VR.1.
Michael Moniz
[Michael J. Moniz is the co-founder, President, and CEO of Circadence and has established the company as a leader in Mobile Network Optimization. His commitment to financial viability, strategic acquisitions, and the development of innovative intellectual property has driven Circadence’s strong, continued growth in the WAN solutions market. Notably, in 2008, he led the company to a first place ranking in the Deloitte Fast 50. Under his direction, the company has secured 20 patents.

Mr. Moniz is also a Managing Director at Paladin Capital Group a DC based PE Firm with over $1B under management.

Mr. Moniz has been a two-time finalist for Ernst and Young’s prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and he is featured in the New York Times best-selling book How to Act Like a CEO by Debra Benton. Mike has been an invited speaker at several national and international conferences, including the NATO Bioterrorism Conferences in Madrid, Spain and the TRC of the Sultanate of Oman for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurialism.

Mr. Moniz shares his business expertise and contributes guidance as a board member on several corporate and non-profit organizations including the Atlas Institute at CU Boulder and the Fund for Peace in Washington, DC. He was educated at the University of Colorado and Harvard University. He attended the Aresty Institute of Executive Education at the Wharton School.

Always pursuing ever-greater challenges, Mr. Moniz, an avid alpinist, co-holds the world speed record for his ascent of the 50 highest mountains in the U.S. in 43 days, has summited five of the Seven Summits, including Mt. Everest and is one of the few individuals to hold the distinction of summiting two 8,000 meter peaks (Mt. Everest and Lohtse) within 24 hours. In 2010, National Geographic named Mr. Moniz one of their Ultimate Adventurers.]

“I’ve been fortunate in life because I’ve had great
mentors,” says John Bianchi, CEO of Frontier
Gunleather. “They all had values and style. I
looked up to them because they had the qualities I
admire.” Good mentoring means learning from the
best. This blog is one more mentor for you.

A good mentor is anchored with similar values but
not necessarily similar perspectives.

(Note: A real bonus of utilizing mentors well is
that it takes away from the loneliness factor at
the top—both yours and theirs.)

“Learn from others. Find a mentor. Find two
mentors. Study them. Observe their good
qualities and their bad qualities. What makes
them effective? What trips them up? Absorb
the lessons,”says Dan Burnham, CEO of Raytheon.

You want mentors from several walks of life that
way you’ll get“intellectual diversity”. You want
mentors from diverse geographic areas too.
Mentoring with people close to you can result in
tight lips whereas people in a different state or
country will be more open. The people in your
mentor loop should include the 57-year-old gray-
haired-wisdom-filled curmudgeons and the 24-
year-old technology whizzes.

As you read this blog, you’ll notice the diverse
group of CEOs I chose to interview. The chiefs
come from a broad group: Dow Chemical,
Allstate, Ingersoll-Rand, Colgate,,
America Inc., FileNET, Coors, e-merging
technologies, Open Pantry, and Frontier
Gunleather--different in industry type and sizes
of organizations--but not different in terms of
passion and hard work from the CEO. The list
was selected so it would have great diversity in
industries, sizes of companies, geographic
locations, and backgrounds of individuals. If
you were to meet any of the people I interview
-ed, you would see immediately that I chose
that person because of his or her integrity,
leadership, creativity, financial acumen,
personal power, and being a genuinely “good”
person. The type you and I like to be around.

I reiterate, don’t mistakenly think this advice is
from the “thick waistline, thin hairline” crowd.
It is the 24-, 42-, and 74-year-old CEOs who
hunger for new technologies, master new
situations quickly, and who build enterprises
for the future. And whether they have 50,000,
5,000, or 50 employees, they don’t vary in their
desire to constantly better themselves. It is one
of the common bonds among these pretty great
CEOs. Each tries to perform better every day.

To be the best, learn from the best. That is
what you’ll get in this blog. In the time it takes
to read these 180 some pages you’ll be mentor
-ed by the “best” in their field and save 8 to 16
precious years of experimenting on your own to
be an exceptional player.

Besides, it’s fun to see how others do it well. “I
like to take advice from people who live a life I’
d like to live,” says Joyce Scott, CEO of
Strategy Consultants Corsortium.

I set out to find those mentors for me, and for
you, so I could leam to do more, better. I didn’t
try to learn from them so I could copy them.
That would probably be impossible and
definitely be stupid. Today, more than any time
in life’s existence, fresh thinking and quick
action is a basic requirement for success.
Regardless of their experiences (and there was
plenty of variety) there was consistency in how
they performed certain actions of the job.

I distilled the conversations to the important
things I heard themsay over and over. Many
times I’ll share specific quotes with you from
those conversations. Sometimes I’ll just say
“says one CEO”.The reason is that I appreciate
their willingness to talk to me and I respect
them as individuals. If a quote was interesting
but not necessarily something they wanted
attributed to them I chose to make it anony-
mous. All of the advice came from someone
I interviewed but I tried to avoid tedium over
always using names, which sometimes gets in the way of flow.


From the different worlds come the fundamentals.
And whatever your age or stage in life, it’s an
uphill fight if you don’t start work with the right

(Note: Fundamentals does not mean basic or
simplistic; it means the necessities.)

From the fundamentals you can adapt, improvise,
and learn as you go to do what’s best for the
situation and the time. The purpose of the funda-
mentals is to prepare you for whatever you will
be called upon to do. Because you see, that is
what will happen. You will be responsible for
surprises for which there is no (or little)
preparation. If you fail any of it, you’ve failed it
all. So you and I will rely on developing skill in
these “essential areas” and then we can use “free
thinking” to add value.

Every CEO’s job requires some comparable
elements to execute it effectively. The lexicon
which you’ve repeatedly heard in conversations
with colleagues: integrity, vision, strategy, 
operations, people skills, financial acumen, 
leadership, salesmanship, social responsibility,
and personal balance. It’s sort of like sports. Each
team and individual player has the same rules—
the elements of the game—but the execution
varies tremendously from player to player. And
that’s true in the sport of business; each player’s
performance varies.

“Elements of being a good CEO are straight-
forward. You do it or you don’t do it well.
You have it or you don’t,” says Stephen
Metzger, CEO, of SPC (SPecial
Communities). “Your actions have to
magnify what you’re thinking and
producing rather than subtracting from it.”

Your substance—the essential fundamentals of the
job—has to match your style—the way you 
uniquely execute—and vice versa. If your
manner of execution supersedes the substance,
you have a great deal.

Regardless of your present title, the elements of
the CEO job, which we’ll discuss in this blog,
must also become the elements of your life. You
need to have non-negotiable integrity, be able to
envision your future, have the approach to get
there, manage the plans, deal with all kinds of
people, stay financially solvent, display leader-
ship, constantly influence and persuade, be a
part of a community, and sustain some balance
for personal sanity. In terms of professional and
personal application those key areas make up
the chapters in this blog.

Good CEOs know a lot. Sometimes they act
modestly act like it’s not a big deal but it is.
In fact things obvious to them can be a
blazing revelation to others. The task is in sorting
out what they know into simple, workable advice.
To act like the best CEOs act out there, I
condensed what they have to say into 10 CEO
rules to help you on your trip to the top. You—
tomorrow’s CEOs—should have these 10 rules
tattooed onto your forearm, to adhere to and work
on improving every day of your life

*Be yourself, unless you’re a jerk (integrity—Chapter 1).

*See around corners (vision—Chapter 2).

*Make dust or eat dust (strategic planning—Chapter 3).

*Make the big play (operations—Chapter 4).

*Keep good company (people—Chapter 5).

*Be the number one fundraiser and fund protector
(money—Chapter 6).

*Act like a good CEO even when you don’t feel like
it (leadership—Chapter 7).

*Evangelize the world (sell—Chapter 8).

*Go big or go home (social citizen—Chapter 9).

*Cut through the crap (balance —Chapter 10).

Utilizing these actions results in a comfortable,
competent, confident chief—one who would make
a statement like the following, “Yes, I am the
company president. I am comfortable in my
position and confident that I know what I am
doing. You can trust me. And I want you to
know I trust you and I like you. I do not know
everything, but I am confident that together we
will find the right answers.”

So let’s go forward to find the right answers for you.

I want you to read this blog feeling like you are
sitting on the back porch (or more likely the
deck of a sailboat) in a conversational exchange
with a bunch of CEOs. You are part of their inner
circle hashing out the CEO job. Trading war
stories, and offering helpful information that will
make the difference in your own life.

So let’s get to it—it’s a good day for you to go 
kick some derriere.
Debra A. Benton, President
Benton Management Resources, Inc.
Fort Collins, Colorado



*Why integrity is so important.

*How to improve yours.

*The test—a crisis.

My parents had always drummed into me that all 
you have in life is your reputation; you may be 
very rich but if you lose your good name, then 
you’ll never be happy.
— Richard Branson, 
CEO of Virgin Group, Ltd.

Most everyone says integrity is “rule number one”
in acting like the best CEOs—more so than being
a brilliant individual, a visionary, or a leader.
Personal integrity is the cost of entry to this
position. That’s right: How you do your work is
more important than what your work is. Everyone
can nod his or her head and claim, “Oh yeah, I’m
definitely a good citizen.” But are we moral,
upright, principled, honest, proper, decent,
virtuous, straightforward, high-minded, noble,
kind, considerate, and fair all of the time with
everyone? Pretty tough standard. Yet it is the
standard to which you can aspire. If you can’t,
who will? And if you do, you just might set a
model of excellence for those around you. The
least of it is you will “sleep like a baby” (that
being a healthy baby, not a colicky baby!)
feeling good about yourself. And it will get
you some percents on that 1000 percent more
a day goal!

One month after getting the CEO job I was the 
most popular guy in town. It takes some guys 
ten years to realize that everyone patting them 
on the back is because of their position, not 
themselves.— Dan Amos, CEO, Aflac

Regardless of your job title, this good character
stuff is for everyone at any level in the
organization so people “pat you on the back”
based on who you are not what you are.
Obviously, the best CEOs have the best
“makeup” long before they get into the CEO
position—that’s partially how they got there.
They practice it, not just praise it.

Good character is an evolving quality based on
early values that you were exposed to along
with what finally sticks in your consciousness.
The result is an internal alarm system that goes
off when you are crossing the line between
right and wrong.

I’ve always tried to live by looking at “what is the
right thing to do here?” It’s not right, no matter 
how attractive it appears in the short term, if it’s 
not the best thing to do.
— Nimish Mehta, CEO, Impresse

What’s “right” is relative to your own system of
values—your own exposure. It’s perceptual.
Other people’s character, although formed the
same way yours was, may end up with different
boundary lines to set off their “alarm” at
different times. For instance, members of the
Mob have different boundary lines than the
Dalai Lama. Consequently, both are going to
view issues differently and choose different
actions. But in general, the Western perspective
is fairly homogenized as to what is right and

(Several CEOs said to me, “I think, ‘How do I want
to read about this on the front page of The Wall 
Street Journal’; that shapes right or wrong pretty

You must have a tolerance for varying 
perspectives. But an intolerance for what is 
considered irreprehensible. — Rev. Jim
Forbes Senior Minister, Riversi Cathedral.

You set your own standard of behavior. Live it
consistently. Teach it to those who want to
follow the same standard. And understand that
not everyone is exactly like you. In reality, their
“view” can be different from your “view” while
both of you pledge you are acting “right or wrong.”

Sometimes people think the arena with the least
ethics is politics. I asked Rick O’Donnell,
Director, Governors Office of Policy and
Initiatives for Colorado Governor Bill Owens,
about it.

Politics is a microcosm of population. There is not 
a higher percent of bad people in politics. They 
are just exposed. If a CEO says he’s going to go 
in a certain direction then a year later it didn’t 
happen that way, no one knows unless it’s mention
-ed in the annual report. Whereas, if a politician 
says something the media is going to remember. 
The politician is scrutinized every time he changes 
his mind simply because people see it. The fact is 
people grow and change their mind regardless of 
their work. 

Integrity is not as black and white as you’d like it
to be. Particularly when you add the diversity of
today’s workforce where different cultures,
religions, history, and exposure all affect the

In other words, you can’t be judgmental about
your “right” being more “right.” They just may
feel the same about you.

So you average it out: on balance, you act—and
make—decisions not just for your good but for
the common good. You sacrifice your own
aspirations for the common good. You decide to
act like integrity is nonnegotiable while, at the
same time, tolerantly understand that people
view the same truth differently. You choose to
be credible beyond reproach and accept that
others try to also. You act this way not just to do
things in a legal manner but because it’s your
private code of behavior. And you consistently
follow through on these beliefs all of the time
even during times of crisis. You are the kind of
person who will be a good CEO like these four
have a reputation for being.

Integrity is a supreme requirement. And I consider 
trust to be the greatest motivator.
— Bob Galvin
Chairman of Motorola’s executive committee

And trust takes a lot of moxie and commitment to 
build. It takes a long time, and you can lose it 
— Max Depree, Former Chairman of Herman Miller

I think there are two essential things. The first is 
the value of people, the second is the 
importance of values.
— Bob Haas, CEO, Levi Strauss

Ethics are an invaluable intangible that each 
successful leader bases their actions on. One 
of the things that my firm prides itself on is 
the ethical values that run deep in our blood. 
It’s something that is worn on our sleeves. 
We look to our core values in hiring, client 
selection, and everyday decisions. Even our 
firm by-line is: “ethics fed brainware.” 
Ethics is something that has been deeply 
seeded in all successful organizations and
their leaders and will continue to be for as
long as successful business will exist.
— Brian McCune
Managing Partner,
e-merging technologies group

Although it might be obvious that integrity is rule
number one, let me reinforce that conclusion
with reasons why it is.

It’s a basic requirement for leadership

People follow you because of your character, not
your job title. “A really good way to lose
leadership is to be thought of as having lost
integrity,” says Curt Carter, CEO of Gulbransen,
Inc. and America, Inc. “CEOs jealously guard
their good name. They’ll pay ransom for their
good name—like paying a bill they don’t owe.”

General Schwarzkoff says leadership boils down to
competence and character, and more often the
differentiator is character.

(Throughout this entire blog you’ll read that every
aspect of the CEO’s job is fundamentally guided
by his or her character regardless of industry, size,
or anything else.)

Ethical behavior turns out to be the easiest to 

When you have an “unwavering constitution,” you
can be yourself and not work so hard trying to be
something you aren’t. You don’t run the risk of
people discovering artifice. Like you’ve heard
people say, it’s so much easier to tell the truth;
then I don’t have to try to remember all my lies.


When you try to “do right,” it alleviates stress of
decisions. It softens setbacks and disappointments.
It takes care of ingratitude. And it turns out to be a
good business strategy because nothing baffles
someone full of tricks and lies more than simple,
straightforward integrity.

People sense when you are guided by deeply held
values or when you aren’t and they sense when
you aren’t but act like you are.

“The first things our parents taught us about right
and wrong are true. They still work even in the
complexity of today’s business,”says Nancy May,
CEO of The Women’s Global Business Alliance.

Sets standard of expectation

People mirror those around them. Your people are
a reflection of you. If you dip your toes in the
pool of nonethical behavior, even a little, it starts
a whirlpool. “The CEO needs to be the personi-
fication of the company’s values to his
organization, customers, suppliers, and outside
world,” says Daryl Brewster, President of
Planters Specialty Foods. “It’s that simple.”

When the elephant sneezes, everybody catches
a cold. (Gross expression, huh?) But you get
it, everything gets passed around.

“The CEO is a role model, his major responsibility
is to bring honesty and openness into it but it has
to be his own personality. I had high standards and
felt if I set the example people would live up to
them and the company would benefit greatly,”
says Duane Pearsall, retired CEO of Columbine
Venture Capital. “I had an individual that I wanted
to promote. He was bright, energetic, a good
thinker, did an outstanding job but he had a
character flaw he couldn’t get over. I tried to help
and sometimes he did better. But he couldn’t quite
make it. So I ended up not promoting him.”

You truly demonstrate and prove your integrity in
your actions.One small example is that you have
to do what you’d expect your people to do:
“When I was visiting the field I’d schedule a flight
home at 6:00 p.m. so I could work with my people
until 5:00 p.m. If I expect a full day from them
they have to see me do the same. You either live
by the rules or don’t live by the rules,” says Paul
Schlossberg, CEO of D/FW Consulting.

And sometimes you have to inconvenience your
-self to remain that “person with integrity.” If
your people can’t spend more than $150 a night
for a hotel room than you can’t either. Play by
the rules, whatever they are.

If you provide a constant example and application, 
that will run the company when you aren’t there
to tell people what to do. That becomes part of
your corporate culture.

“The person I believe is the executive secretary,”
says Nancy Albertini, CEO of Taylor-Winfield.

We had a phone call from a CEO who wanted
us to do a search for him. I returned the call.
His secretary semisnarled, ‘who are you, what
are you calling about, and he’s too busy to talk
to you.’ I just said, ‘Fine. Just explain to him
why he hasn’t heard back from me was
because you explained he was too busy to talk
to me.’ Well the man did call back and was
overly pleasant to me because he needed me
to do the search. When I started to work with
him I discovered that his manner was to be
nice when it served him and not to be the rest
of the time. It only reinforced my commit-
ment to paying attention to the CEO’s
secretary. If she is nice and helpful it tells me
about his management style. If she isn’t, that
tells me something too. I make sure in my
own office that everyone treats anyone who
calls like they are the Queen of England.”

Creates and leaves a legacy

You can’t always bet on technology, can’t bet on
the numbers, and can’t bet on the economy.
What you can bet on at the end of the day is
management. People track your performance.

It’s called your reputation while you’re here and
your legacy when you’re gone.

The way to gain a reputation is to endeavor to be
what you desire to appear. — Socrates

People see through you when you aren’t honest
and ethical—either right away or eventually.
The truth will come out. You can’t misstate.
You can’t shape the truth a little. You can’t even
be coy. There is no exit. Eventually, you’ll be
faced with the facts. Again, that creates your

Pick your guiding principles and apply them
religiously to hiring, building an organization,
or dealing with customers. Even in the
exploding technology world where anything
goes, you can’t risk betraying other
employees or businesses. It will come back
to haunt you eventually.

Evidence over time creates your reputation and
legacy. “Previous integrity. That’s your road
map to follow when evaluating someone,”
says Lawrence Land, attorney-at-law.

Talk about legacy! “I’d rather have a ‘handshake
deal’ with a person of integrity, than a forty page
document with a person who embraces a
‘Clintonesque’ personality,”says Dave Powelson,
CEO of TRI-R Systems.

It pays off financially

“I’ve always put principle before profit,” says
John Bianchi, CEO of Frontier Gunleather.
“Principles in the short term guarantee profits
in the long term.”

Sure, I know it’s not always financially rewarding
to do what’s right. It’s not easy to be the person
you’d like to be or as one person put it, “the
person my dog thinks I am.”

You will easily find ways to cut costs and increase
the bottom line but you can also end up cutting
into your principles. Perhaps the financial payoff
is that you stay in business with a good reputation.
“We had consultants reviewing our business
several times over the years and they’d always
report that ‘You are overstaffed.’We did hire too
much help and that costs us. But that followed
our two guiding principles: provide quality care
and put what was best for our patients first. Our
pay was self-satisfaction,” says Dr. Kelvin Kesler, Chief of Ft. Collins Women’s Clinic.

It keeps you out of jail

People choose to do the right thing because it fits
their self-image or they fear temporal or spiritual
punishment. It’s like the line in the old movie Rogue River,

{ SYNOPSIS: You can’t outrun family

REVIEW: From the opening scene, director Jourdan McClure had completely grasped the audience’s attention with a tattered and blood covered protagonist putting a gun to her head. As the scene fades to black, a single gunshot is heard and the audience feels as if they are in for a gruesome ride.

Mara, Michelle Page (Miss Congeniality 2), is driving to where her father had taken her many times in her youth, to the famed Rogue River in order to scatter his ashes into it. While there, a seemingly nice enough older gentleman named Jon, Bill Moseley (House of 1000 Corpses), kindly informs her that it is unlawful to do so and he walks her back to her car, which has been towed leaving her stranded. He offers to take her into town, but must stop by to check on his terminally ill wife Lea, Lucinda Jenney (Rainman and Thelma & Louise), first. This is where the film’s oddness begins to creep in, enhanced by the more than adequate soundtrack.
Jon and his wife live deep off the beaten path, far from town and it’s obvious that Mara is somewhat concerned. At the home, Jon invites Mara in to meet Lea and she hesitantly accepts. Lea learns of Mara plans to stay at a motel in town and invites her to spend the night with them instead, which Mara accepts.

After dinner, in one of the goriest scenes of the movie, Mara mishandles a plate while handing it to Lea and it shatters on the floor. Mara makes an attempt to pick up the large sharp pieces and Lea firmly grabs hold of Mara’s hand, inadvertently causing (and maybe even forcing) her to slice her palm wide open. The following scene is even more disturbing with Jon holding Mara down while Lea stitches up the gapping and glistening wound. It has now become clear to the audience that this couple is considerably more than just whacked.

After awakening to Jon, standing at the foot of her bed clad only in underwear, Mara is more than just a little freaked, especially when Jon informs her that he has been talking to her father’s ashes and just watching her sleep. She decides to make a break for it, gathers her things and begins walking down the desolate highway. Jon comes out of the shadows, sneaks up behind her and strikes the back of her head with the butt of his rifle, rendering her unconscious. When she awakes, back in the home’s bed, she finds her ankles locked tightly by a leather strap and realizes that she is now being held against her will.
Throughout the rest of the film she is chronically tormented (not even close to the Hostel series) and forced into a demented sexual act with an unconscious fellow captive that is being kept in a basement trunk. Eventually she escapes; we know that from the beginning of the film, and the predictable woman running barefoot through the woods ensues before she goes on to inflict retribution in a half-hearted take on the movie I Spit on Your Grave.
While the film generates and maintains suspense all the way up until the final credits, it never seems to let the ride hit its peak and a viewer won’t realize this until the end.
The casting was certainly there, however, the limited dialogue coupled with the actors not fully conveying the character they portrayed makes this film mediocre at best. For example, Mara, finding herself in a terrifying situation that would typically cause anyone to basically go off the deep end, seemed to only be able to muster a few whimper filled tears which weren’t all that believable. Bill Moseley, and maybe this opinion is due to his similar cast type of roles, was fine as a yelling and sometimes hapless, bordering stupid, would be kidnapper. But, he could have easily enhanced the role, making the character much more chilling. Lucinda Jenney, in my opinion, stole the show with her quirky irrational actions and chemotherapy thinned hair giving her the impression that she was some sort of wicked old witch.
As far as cinematography is concerned, specifically, the camera shots from the floor height looking back down a hallway were impressive and fully implied fear. But, there were too few to maintain the terror and therefore, the fright was not fully harbored.
The set choice was well considered and deserves mentioning, but Rogue River certainly had the potential to be a much better film. While it may appeal to hardcore fans of the subgenre, most horror seeking fans will probably find it hard to sit through and might end up looking for the stop button.}
“Every man is a potential criminal, only
fear stops him.”

The fact is, the higher you go up, the more
freedom and power you have. With that comes
self-pride in accomplishment and feeling good
about what you’ve done. That’s all good and
normal. When taken to the extreme, it becomes
bad. Extreme means “I’m special, I’m different,
the same rules no longer apply to me. I have a
right to get away with more—just look at who
I am.” This kind of look-down-your-nose-
superiority may work in Hollywood but not in
the real world.

It is probably the nature of people to do what they
can get away with. Comedienne Chris Rock puts
it, “A man is basically as faithful as his options.”
And at the top of the skyscraper, you can get
away with more. But don’t. It’s back to your
standard every day. You get more options
(mental and monetary) as CEO. Be careful how
you take them. You can go to jail.

Michael Wise, CEO for the former Silverado
Banking who was sentenced to 3-years in a
federal prison camp after pleading guilty
to stealing $8.75 million from investors is
quoted in the Denver Post, “I’ve been blessed,
with a lot of talent and people who trusted me
…I misused both of them.”

Do not give yourself the permission to be even a
little questionable– despite the option to do so.
As some historian put it, “Empires cracked
before they crumbled. Even when the first
cracks seemed easily mended.”

Good people will be willing to work with you

In business, we generally have options in terms of
whom we choose to do business with. “If I’m
dealing with someone I sense lacks integrity, I
distance myself quickly. If they work for me they
don’t last long. Integrity is fundamental to our
corporate culture,” says Ted Wright, CEO of Ampersand.

Does it take longer than a second to answer
whether, if given a choice, you’d work for
someone who demonstrates integrity over
someone questionable? Well, the same goes
for who would work for you.

If the boss’ motive, character, and ability are 
something you don’t respect, quit. If you 
have a subordinate who has a motive,
character, or ability you can’t accept, fire 
him or her.
— Curt Carter, ‘Carter’s Law’
CEO Gulbransen Inc. and America Inc.

There was a sign on one publisher’s wall for years,
“We rip off the other guy and pass the savings on
to you.” Now do you think that was a successful
recruiting poster?

This is a biggee. If you don’t have good people
working for you, you will fail despite your effort,
intelligence, actions, etc. Good people don’t work
for bad bosses (at least not for long). If you are a
boss who’s experienced recent success and you
think you “hold a hot hand” and can therefore
slip and slide a little because of your “power,”
you will eventually find out differently.

Power comes from integrity

Power is duty that comes from integrity.

The truth is that at the CEO level there are many
opportunities to do wrong. The CEO has a very
long leash. There’s little scrutiny above that
level in many business situations.

And when you clearly have the option—but choose
not to take it—you have personal power because of
how you handled yourself and people will see,
understand, and respond accordingly.

We like movies with some version of a hero
overcoming a hurdle—a time where he could lie,
cheat, or steal—but instead he ends up more
powerful because of not doing it. Well, that
opportunity comes to you every day to be a hero at the office.

“People felt I’d be fair and compassionate. And I
got devoted employees because of it. I didn’t
need to worry about standing in the doorway at
5:00 and be trampled by exiting employees,” says
Dr. Kelvin Kesler, Chief of Ft. Collins Women’s Clinic.

(Author’s Note: Throughout this chapter, I’ve
pretty liberally interchanged words here such as
integrity, ethics, character, values, and honesty.
I know the dictionary definition is different for
each but I’m going to continue interchanging
them because you get my point when I use them
that it’s all about being a good person. I could
even add moral, trustworthy, upright, authentic,
sincere, and “does the right thing.” Whatever
word you choose to use is fine—to describe
right or wrong—as long as you never try to
fool yourself.

You have to be truly true to yourself. As the CEO,
no matter how hard you try, you won’t please
everyone and some will feel you lack integrity.
That’s a price you pay for being in the spotlight.
You’ll have enemies. When they appear, listen to
what they criticize you for. Change if they are
right and be grateful for them—they help you
get better.

Integrity is the goal but not always the reality.

The fact is that sometimes integrity takes a back
seat to keeping a CEO going in the direction of
a target. More than one CEO has stepped over a
few marginal hurdles without spending 2 seconds
of thought on people he’s hurting. There is a lot
done “in the dark, not in the public light,” as one
CEO put it.

He explained, “A company starts up a project,
adds people, and builds up an infrastructure.
Then every 3-5 years they clip it off to make
it economically viable. They don’t spend a
lot of time thinking about the division full of
people who have to relocate or the 20-year
employee who’s losing her job. Companies
trim back and see what raises its ugly head.
The goal is to gain efficiencies. To get what
is good for them in the long term. They give
a financial package to people of six or nine
months for an early out, help to re-educate
them and so forth. It’s patchwork. They do it
because it’s demanded of them or there
would be an outrage.”

(But, on the one hand, you could make the case
that the smaller operation was shut down for
the common good of the bigger operation.
It can get pretty gray out there as you can tell.)

CEOs have superordinate goals. They don’t start
out to not be ethical. But with pressure from
outside sources, timing issues, things can start
to slip and slide. Unfortunately, there will always
be many times and many companies who do not
reward integrity if it gets in the way of getting
things done.

“The CEO is still a person. There is no such thing
as a perfect person. A CEO may slip from time to
time when he sees a chance to do something a
little unethical to help make things look better to
stockholders or whatever. One time I had a
supplier give me a pretty valuable gift but I gave
it right back to him. I didn’t want to be indebted
to him if things turned sour. To hell with it, do
what’s right, I always say,” says Ernie Howell,
retired president of WPM Systems. “You don’t
have to live with the stockholders or your
employees. You stay ethical more for yourself,
because you have to live with yourself….
There have always been con artists, in any field,
the only difference now is that they can just
communicate faster today.”

I was in Japan during their worst nuclear accident
in recent history. The television news carried
coverage of the Japanese company president
whose plant had caused the nuclear leak. He was
literally on his knees in front of his employees
asking for forgiveness, with the words, “We
apologize from the bottom of our hearts.” True,
it’s partially a cultural thing, but can you imagine
a U.S. president on his or her knees asking for
forgiveness? I don’t think so!

The same television show had an interview with a
U.S. company CEO who had been fired from his
highly visible, big company job, and was going to
head an Internet start-up. The reporter asked if
his departure had been a humbling experience.
He avoided the question so the reporter asked
again. After being pressed to answer, all the CEO
would admit was,“I do not wish to repeat the
experience. ” Known for his arrogance while
CEO, he continues it in his new venture.

These two individuals didn’t start out to do
anything questionable. Things happen. The
best you can do is to listen when the alarm
goes off in your head:

Every person is the architect of his or her own character.

Integrity—character—affects absolutely every
other part of your life.

It’s the one thing no one can take away, and we
can’t lose it unless we choose to.

This is your reality; your reputation is what others
think, but this is reality.

It’s the result of your own effort and endeavors;
no one gave it to you other than early exposure
from parents and society.

It’s the area to work on the most for it will serve
you the best (J. P. Morgan considered the best
bank collateral to be “character”).

To create something of value, you must be someone of value.

I have to, and you have to, be careful not to judge
—“there but for the grace of God go I” and “walk
a mile in my moccasins” are expressions that have
lasted for a reason. It’s our responsibility to
seek to understand, not judge.

However good you are, get better

As good as you are, check on what you need to
work on to get even better. You should try to get
better on every skill part of your job — try to improve the integrity side too.

It seems a little silly. You could say you have it or
you don’t. I know myself pretty well and I work
on being the person my dog thinks I am but I also
know I could be better. And in your heart I bet
you feel similarly.

“Most people who attain the CEO level have values
early on in their career. You can improve
management skills but integrity is one thing that has
to get stronger. At the end of the day, the other party
has to believe in and trust the other party. Trust is
most important with the CEO,” says Larry
Dickenson, senior vice president, of Boeing.

You can reinvent yourself every day (or every
month or everyyear) as necessary. You do not
have to rely on what has worked to date. You
can change frequently and still be yourself—
but always a better self!

And by changing yourself I don’t mean like Dustin
Hoffman quipped, “I want to be as I always
envisioned myself to be: taller, smaller nose,
handsome, better teeth.”

Everyone needs periodic review. “As you get older
you have more information about yourself and
what you’re good at,” says John Sculley, former
CEO of Apple. Don’t wait until you’re older,
have more time, have a problem, or a “change in
life.” Do it now.

First you have to do a little self-reflection. If you
wait until you are at the top to try to be self-
reflective, you won’t be able to because you’ve
not developed the habit. Or more likely you won’t
want to because you don’t want to “jinx what got
me here” as one CEO put it. (You might want to
review these **)

Think of five important situations you’ve been involved with recently
that turned out “just okay,” not “great.” Isolate each one and
ask yourself:

How could I have handled that better?

Where did I disappoint myself a little?

What negative impact did I have on people and what can I do
about that now?

What do I want to remember when it happens again so I handle
it better?

What can I do about it now?

Sound like beating yourself up? Wrong. Sound like a waste of
time? Wrong.

I just took a recent situation that happened in my own life through
these questions. What I learned about it upon self-reflection: I
should have kept emotional reaction out of it. I shouldn’t have listened
to other parties with an “agenda”. I’m a little embarrassed
that others saw me “less than the image I like people to see.” I now
have an enemy, at least temporarily, until I fix it. In hindsight I
would not have done this and instead engaged with a more open
point of view with the person involved. What I want to remember
next time is not to be so high and mighty about how right I was because
I wasn’t as right as I thought I was! And what I have to do
about it now is swallow my pride and apologize.

The higher the altitude, the lower the feedback. Self-reflection
is to provide your own tough feedback before you get it from others.

I, like you, hate to disappoint myself so by doing this little exercise,
I’ve thought it through with enough intensity that I will likely
not repeat it. Or if I do, I’ll catch and correct earlier on. (For those
curious about the situation that I didn’t handle well, no, I’m not
going to tell you any more!)

You can do self-reflection on your drive to the office, in between
appointments, while resting after exercise, or any other time you
have 5 minutes of concentrated thought to focus with.

Simply decide what’s right for you. Write it down, date it, keep it.
Refer to it later. (Don’t turn the page and just make a mental note.
Do it now. It won’t take that long. You can do it again when you have
more time. Someday is right now.)

“Every year I go off to the mountains in Utah and revisit what is
important to me. I write it down. I carry it around in my briefcase,
put it by my phone on my desk, share it with people I value. I ‘declare’
myself and basically say ‘judge me’ against what I say. I’ve
done this for 10 years. It’s made me grow and have more insight into myself. Every year I make revisions but I’m the same essential person.
The way to authenticity is to work at understanding where you
are. Network with people who help you develop insight into yourself.
I use a graphologist, a retired CEO 80 years old, and some
friends and family. I periodically check in with them. I’m alert to
their insights. Once I declare it, I feel like the emperor with no
clothes. I’m obligated to keep at it,” says Doug Conant, President of
Nabisco Foods Company. “I initially didn’t share my goals with
people but now I do. I’ve found it helps me live up to them.”

As I wrote earlier, ethics is a word that is frequently brought up.
There’s the dictionary definition of the word: a principle of right
or good conduct. And then there is Bill Daniels’, CEO of Daniels
Cablevision, working definition, “If you make a deal and it doesn’t
feel right chances are it’s unethical.” Bill, who was frequently on the
business magazine’s income lists of the “top 400” in the country,
proudly gave me a copy of his company’s code of conduct since
1958. Although written as the company code, I’ve rewritten it for a
personal code:

1. I will exemplify the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and
personal conduct, and adhere to all legal and ethical principles.

2. I will deal with all constituents in an honest, courteous, respectful,
and polite manner.

3. I will work with all in an honest, civil manner, and will show
respect to my colleagues and to their opinions.

4. I will not knowingly disseminate false or misleading information
and will act promptly to correct any erroneous communications
for which I am responsible.

5. I will not engage in practices which corrupt the industries I
serve or damage the business community.

6. I will scrupulously safeguard the right of privacy of present,
former, and prospective associates and treat information obtained
in a confidential manner.

7. I will base my professional principles on the fundamental
value and dignity of the individual.

8. I will take responsibility for my actions.

“Can you do business without this code of ethics?” I asked
Daniels. “Yes, but not for long. Anyone who does not live up to his
integrity, ethics, and character will eventually be found out. Can you
learn to be better at it? The answer to that is yes.”

The purpose of the self-reflection questions earlier is to give you
experience in shaping your personal code. Then write it down.

A couple of chiefs let me share theirs with you:
It is my continuing resolve to be:
Financially secure and independent of outside influence.
A source of positive influence and example with those I meet.
Confident all friends will be served and cared for according
to their needs and my abilities.
Vigilant that my business and personal affairs are conducted
in a manner which will enrich those involved.
Balance in my business and personal goals so each will be
successful and fulfilled.
— John Krebbs
CEO, Parker Album Company

(Note: When Krebbs gave me this I wanted to use it but wanted
his permission to attribute it to him. “Yes, use my name, I’m proud
of it. It took me five years to come up with it and I’ve stuck by it
for twenty years.”)

My mission is to raise my family, teach my children, lead my
organization, be a good friend, feel good about myself, continue
to grow, and help others to grow.
To be bold in my pursuits, but balance courage and consideration.
To be a great companion to my wife, love her and care
for her, not caretake her.
To provide a home that is loving and caring and mentors interdependence.
To have good friends to share our lives with.
To always keep learning. To be responsible and accountable
to me first, and society second.
And finally, to live so when my children think of Fairness,
Caring, and Integrity…they think of me.
— Michael Trufant,
CEO, G&M Marine Inc.

And one CEO’s code of conduct was simply, “I put myself in the
other person’s shoes. It’s my constant compass.”
“We put our values down on one sheet of paper, enclose them in
plastic and keep them on our desks. We eat our sandwiches on it.

post them at the workplace. And I put my support behind it. Any time
we send a message that is different than on the statement people tell
me about it. Some companies have strong cultures and some have
weak cultures. The CEO decides which it’s going to be. People want
to be part of an organization with a strong culture they can commit
to,” says Sam Ginn, Chairman, of Vodafone Airtouch. At the Frank
Russell Company, they laser their business code into a wood cube:

We value integrity, in an environment of mutual trust and
respect, including fairness, teamwork, tolerance, family,
and community, in our process of providing added value to
our clients We value our associates, families and clients, who are critical
to our success. We especially appreciate our associates’
commitment to the Company, and in return seek to provide
opportunities for them to develop.

We require honest profitability for continued success, and we
reward our associates accordingly. We seek to exceed client
expectations. We aspire to a higher set of values than required
by law.

A code of ethics can be personal one or it can be corporate. The
point is to have one that works personally and professionally for you.

Think carefully, purposefully, and seriously about what really
matters to you—for your own growth and development

“A couple of weeks ago I went through a re-evaluation: where I
am and what I’m doing. I found I’m extremely happy, and satisfied.
I value and enjoy life and my friends, “says John Krebbs, CEO of
Parker Album Company. If you’re lucky, you may come up with a
similar conclusion but I want you to go through the exercise to
check it out. (Remember, he’s one of the people who had written
down a code. You’re more likely to meet it if you know what it is and
can refer to it on a regular basis.)

There is no separation, in my opinion, between who we are at
work and who we are away from work—so work on improving both.

Conduct yourself in a manner that if whatever you say or do
gets back to your wife, children, parents, grandparents,
friends, parish priest, etc., you’re okay with it. If you “spit
up” on yourself do not hesitate to apologize to those you offended,
hurt, or humiliated.
— Ron Brown
CEO, Maximation

Live your code: where you falter, alter

Be self-disciplined to the extreme when it comes to living your
code. Any honest self-evaluation results in areas for development so
do something about your weaknesses. Where you falter, alter.
You wouldn’t be reading this book if you didn’t have the goal to
be better. Like a lot of things in life, it’s not how talented you are, it’s
deciding what you want and wanting it bad enough to be self-disciplined
in getting it.

Every day I get the difficult things done first thing in
the morning.
— Rick Pitino
Boston Celtics coach

The ABC news show 20/20 reported on a nationwide study that
determined self-control was an indicator of success. Previously it
was thought that self-esteem was the key success factor. But no, it’s

The study concluded that self-esteem comes out of self-discipline.
Self esteem, like self-discipline is one of those personality
traits prevalent in effective CEOs. You feel good about yourself
when you’ve accomplished something and you accomplish something
through self-discipline.

You and I both know we are more capable than we act on many
occasions. If we will discipline ourselves to go further, faster, we
can do more. A good foot racer runs past the finish line. When you
run through the goal, not to it, you won’t fall short of it. Like anything
in life: If you go on, you win. If you stop, you lose.

The CEO test—a crisis

The real test of integrity is when something goes wrong. A
crisis. Or, to put it nicely, a nonroutine situation. There is no better way to observe someone than during a crisis. If you change
your integrity when times are bad, you had no integrity to begin

As one CEO put it, “set them to simmer and take off the scum.”

A crisis is where your character really shows up. The test isn’t
during the good times where you’re just keeping a steady helm in
the storm. The behavior you exhibit during a crisis—whether you
panic or cave or play a little dirty—that’s what people look at as the
real person.

“A crisis is when you are challenged the most. You grow the
most. And you find out who you really are. How you behave at
those times is as important as what you do today or every day,”
says Leo Kiely, CEO of Coors. “People won’t work for submarine

The CEO must have the ability to stay on deck while the wind
is blowing at gale force.
— Thome Matisz
CEO, Solotec

People with an ethical reputation can guide others through
a crisis. Those without, simply won’t be trusted and therefore
cannot get others to follow them to turn things around. Even
as the CEO, in a crisis, you have to rely on others, put faith
in others. And, those others will only be reliable if they feel
you are reliable.

There are varying levels of crisis. From losing a major customer,
to finding out the computer failed and you’ve gone offline, or your
health insurance company goes bankrupt and in 30 days your employees
will be out of coverage. (One CEO described a crisis situation
he was in, “I felt like I was in deep water and was caught in a
wave in a cave.”)

Then there is the manufacturing plant that blows up, or the food
product that was tainted or the airplane crash, or someone shoots up
the workplace. (“Foxhole religion,” is what Jack Falvey CEO, calls
it. “Leaders have a better prayer life.”)

You can’t control 99 percent of the stuff in business life. There
are steps to deal with in a crisis which I will lay out. The steps, although
important, aren’t as important as the tone and manner in
which you carry them out. The mantle of integrity must pervade in
every single detail in every way.

Take charge. You must call the shots. You can direct a public
relations person or vice president to help relay information to
the media, public, shareholders, whomever—just remember
you are in charge and responsible for the crisis management,
not anyone else. “When things are down you have to be out in
front. You’re the captain, it’s your problem,” says Lee Roberts,

Choose someone to collect information. You need to have as
much available data as possible to make decisions. Few crises
start at the CEO level, but rather way down the line. You don’t
have a lot of control but you can have lots of information.

Ensure the crisis is over. The CEO usually cannot fix the problem
directly and most likely doesn’t even have the technical
knowledge to know what needs to be done. Hopefully, the
frontline workers are trained well enough and have the attitude
of integrity, inspired by the CEO, to do the right thing and get
the situation resolved or at least under control as efficiently
and effectively as possible.

Assess damage. As soon as possible review the ramifications of
all parties involved.

Delegate who is the person to develop the recovery plan. You
want someone with integrity as we’re discussing in this chapter.
At this time, more than ever, you need someone who will “keep
his or her head about them when others are losing theirs.”
Be visible. Above all, don’t become paralyzed with fear about
whether what you’re doing is right. Go out and show concern
and compassion. While the frontline troops are fixing the problem,
you must be boosting their morale, comforting families,
and letting everyone know that this is a leader and an organization
that cares about its employees and their welfare and will be
with them in a time of crisis.

That’s a more formal crisis management approach but all day
little ones pop up that require the CEO’s intuitive creativity. If
you truly trust and understand your integrity, you’re able to use it
in emergency situations intuitively. When your 6-year-old falls off
his bicycle, you don’t race to the library to pick up a book or search
the net to decide what to do. You react instantly and you react

Similar minibusiness crisis occur all day long. You don’t know
when one of them is going to occur and at the time you experience
it you react with the right call that comes from your character. So
you: (1) gather facts, (2) get your mind over the fact you’ll never
have enough facts, (3) take the shortest amount of time for #1 and
#2, and (4) then do it—act!

One CEO gathered his legal team in a borrowed conference
room, threw a key onto the center of the table, and said, “This is
the key to the restroom. After we figure out this problem, who’s
going to do what, when’s it going to be done, what will be the cost,
you can have it.” Two and a half hours later the plan was on the
white board.

Michael Trufant, CEO of G&M Marine Inc., offered his five-step
approach to dealing with a “test”:

1. Keep your head when others are losing theirs (credited to

2. Be strategic, unless the building is on fire, and take the time to
think beyond the first steps and consider the good and bad
consequences of action.

3. Maintain a broad perspective over time versus looking at an
“event” in time. (Something he learned from his father.)

4. Have faith and do the right thing which is usually the easiest
to know, yet often hard to do.

5. Communicate well: keep a cool head, think strategically,
keep perspective, decide on the right thing to do…and communicate
all of this to those to whom it is important and
relevant to know.

Craig Watson, Vice President of FMC, says, “I like the Marine
Corps definition of integrity: doing the right thing when no one’s
looking. Then when a crisis hits—something that tests whether you
believe the end justifies the means—you’re face-to-face with your
values that you’re supposed to hold sacrosanct. Some additional
steps: (1) since you understand your deeply held values, (2) use this
understanding to rank order what’s important in a given situation,
(3) if you have to give something up in the process of dealing with
a crisis, start at the bottom of the list.”

For life to be meaningful you must have a challenge. It feels
satisfying to overcome a crisis and it gives you strength for the
next time.

Sometimes you’re going to lose.

Regardless of preparation, effort, and good intent, you don’t always achieve the outcome you desire. That’s another crisis, when
you lose.

For most CEOs if you aren’t winning, you’re miserable. And it’s
little consolation that losing makes you better. But it does. Losing is
Nothing but education
The first step to something better
Closer to victory the next time…if you turn up the 1000
percent effort

And besides “winning” is easy and you don’t need easy!

You can temporarily feel a little sad about things not working
as you hoped. But you just keep going. That’s another test of integrity,
when you get knocked down, do you get back up? Again,
and again, and again, as necessary? “I remember a guy I counted
on who was corrupt. I can still see him as he drove out of town in
a yellow Porsche owing $90,000 in unpaid bills that I had to pay,”
says one CEO. “Yeah, I feel a little sad about that but we had to
keep going.”

Terry Bradshaw asked John Elway, former quarterback for the
Denver Broncos, if he learned more from his losses or his wins.
“Losing the Super Bowls made me mentally tougher and makes the
win that much more special.” As another sports legend put it, Rick
Pitino, “Losing is fertilizer for my growth.”

We know that but it still is miserable while it’s happening.

“I had set up a $48 million contract with Moscow. It was 2 years
of effort, building trust and getting to know the right people. I had
the solution to their problem. My partner in the deal came over for
the final meeting. He blew it. Two years worth of work wiped out,”
says Jim McBride, CEO of ATMO. “I took him to the airport to
send him home the next morning at 5 a.m. I admit, I was totally inebriated. The taxi driver looked at me and said ‘you start somewhat
early for an American.’ If you just lost $48 million wouldn’t you
get drunk?” I said, “Yeah, I guess so,” he said.

How you lose is another test of character. So when you have a
setback, crisis, or a failure, don’t be a jerk:
Don’t be overly convinced of your own importance.
Don’t think you are the “exception to the rule” in doing
whatever you feel like.
Don’t act only to please yourself.
Don’t break your word.
Don’t be dishonest.
Don’t be mean or nasty.
Don’t kick people in the face anywhere along the way.
Don’t yell and scream.
Don’t embarrass others.
Don’t turn supporters into road kill when the going gets tough.
Don’t be arrogant no matter how much of a right you think you
have to be arrogant.
Don’t get good at being bad.

If you follow these steps, you still might make it to the top but it
cuts your shelf life down in staying there. And you better have very
good people who mend a lot of fences for you.

Addressing 800 lawyers at the Waldorf Astoria, Jerry Spence
said, “Don’t act like me. Don’t act like someone you know. Be
yourself, unless you’re an asshole.” (All I can say is, pretty good
Final advice on integrity: Exceed other’s expectations.

When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost,
something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.
— German motto

NOTE 1 Did you know you can go to jail for these dishonest acts:

-5 years: For exaggerating your symptoms to a doctor so that your insurance
company will pay for a checkup it wouldn’t otherwise cover.

-10 years: For taking a confidential list of your firm’s clients and their phone
numbers with you to a new job.

-1 year: For copying a friend’s computer game instead of buying it yourself.

-5 years: For eavesdropping on your neighbor’s cordless phone conversation
and then gossip about what you heard.


Warren Buffett
Chairman and CEO—Berkshire Hathaway
Advice for young women: “You do the same thing a male will do. You follow your passions. You find something you love. The truth is, so few people really jump on their jobs, you really will stand out more than you think. You will get noticed if you really go for it.”

Mary Barra
CEO—General Motors
Do something you are passionate about, do something you love. If you are doing something you are passionate about, you are just naturally going to succeed, and a lot of other things will happen that you don’t need to worry about. There are so many opportunities and choices that women can make or anyone can make about what they do. Do something you are passionate about. Life is too short.

Marc Andreessen
Co-Founder—Andreessen Horowitz
From Steve Martin, in his amazing book Born Standing Up: "Be so good they can’t ignore you."

Helena Foulkes
Executive Vice President—CVS Caremark Corporation
So I love to run. I like to run long distances. And part of it for me is sort of the joy of feeling the pain and the grit and knowing you have to dig deep. And I think a lot of times making business decision is like being a marathoner. In other words, you know what the finish line is that you really want to get to but, along the way, it’s not always pure joy. There are really hard moments. But if you keep your eye on the prize, it’s part of what drives you to get there.

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