Values. And a Banana.

I had the opportunity to speak to the marketing classes at Bentonville High School this week. While the focus of the talk was the structure and function of my business (ie: what I do), one question led to a response regarding my company’s (and my personal) core values. Very simply, they are:

  1. Operate with ethics and integrity
  2. Have fun
  3. Having fun means doing my very best for clients and partners to help them to win.

Pretty straightforward.

One of the students asked me, what do I do if I had to work with someone who was difficult, someone I really didn’t want to work with (making if of course, difficult or impossible to have fun). Great question and I had to think fast.

But first, the banana.

In 1996 I was being recruited from my job to a bigger role in a smaller company. The interview process sailed along, and finally I was flown to south Florida for a final round of interviews.

Met at the Embassy Suites “free” breakfast buffet by Kelly, an executive from the new company, the discussion went well. Kelly and I really connected. I threw down a big breakfast (was not as health conscious in 1996 at age 35 as I am now). Kelly, my soon to be colleague, had a banana.

At the conclusion of the interview, we were leaving and Kelly stopped at the hostess stand to say that he was not a guest and needed to pay for breakfast. Twelve bucks. For a banana.

So Kelly paid for his twelve dollar banana and we left.

How easy it would have been to rationalize skipping out on the twelve dollar banana: It’s a thirty-five cent banana. Our company spends thousands putting travelers on their property every year. It’s a banana!

Clearly, this one stuck with me.

So, back to the student’s question, and here was my answer.

First, in any conflict, I never discount the possibility that I may be the problem. Something I said, did or didn’t do. I know myself well enough to know that it is possible, maybe even likely, that I could be the problem.

So, satisfied in a situation that I’m NOT the problem, then maturity dictates that there are times one has to take the good with the bad. The bad would have to really outweigh the good for me to walk, to not agree to work with that person (or company) again.

If the bad is a clear cut integrity or ethics issue, then we’re done.