Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Wisdom of Issy Sharp

My internet connection at home has been (I assume temporarily) interrupted, meaning that I am suffering from chronic internet withdrawal syndrome. Bryn has fixed it enough that his computer is connected, but so far the network remains down and he is crafty enough that he types on a Dvorak keyboard so I can't even use his computer either.

While I am posting at school though, I thought I would put up a quote that I heard in a video at a training I attended this week. I should also mention that this saying wasn't just from some blandly corporate training video, but from an award-acceptance speech given by the founder and CEO of a highly-respected international corporation.
Trust is the emotional capital of a company.

I found this significant because I can apply it to places of work I've been in previously, to situations I find myself in currently, and to where I see myself in the future professionally. It speaks to a disparity I see in many current business models where there is a lack of follow-through between what is presented to its target audience (public consumers) and what is actually carried out behind closed doors.

What I liked about it most was that it focuses the attention on what is really important. The people. A business generally has both employees and clients; both of these groups are integral to its success. And this idea of trust as emotional capital extends beyond the client/business relationship to the employer/employee relationship as well. In a corporation, having trust flow from the top down seems like a natural way to encourage a healthy and enjoyable work environment, which results in higher profits and the flow of trust back up the corporate ladder. It creates a stronger company that can more easily work in unison toward a common goal.

When it comes down to it, a business is really about transactions between people. The transaction can be for goods or for services, it can be based in the physical world or in the realm of abstract ideas, but it still is carried out through human interactions. I repeat, human interactions. Not money. And not things.

I don't believe there is any business out there that is perfect all of the time. But I do believe that there are businesses that strive for higher levels of integrity than most. This is what Isadore Sharp was talking about with trust as a business's "emotional capital," and also when he deflects comments about him being a "self-made" man as not telling the whole story. This is the direction I want to head in professionally. Knowing that I'm not willing to compromise my integrity or the quality of work I produce just to save a buck or close a sale.

(And for the record, since my blog may still be under some sort of surveillance, I'm also going to state that this post is not any sort of thinly-veiled attack on Julep Nail Parlor. While what I'm talking about here can certainly be applied to my experiences there--and my experiences there certainly have influenced the way I see and interpret issues like this--I'm more interested in looking at what business ethics mean on a much larger scale. And then to use these types of ideological explorations to formulate my own set of business principles.)

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