Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

This blog has moved to:

Get this widget!
Visit the Widget Gallery

If you'd like to get an update when we post new content, please click here to subscribe via RSS or to subscribe by e-mail.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

On Turning 50

It’s 5 p.m. on December 23, which means I have only 7 hours left in my 40s.

It’s been a magnificent decade. I feel very, very blessed.

In fact, since I was about 15, life continues to get better and better. 15-20 was better than what had come before, my 20s were very nice–getting married, and moving together to Western Massachusetts.

My 30s were even better, as I got to know my two amazing kids, born in 1987 and 1992, and as my writing and publishing career began to take really shape with the 1993 publication of Marketing Without Megabucks: How to Sell Anything on a Shoestring by Simon & Schuster, and then with my decision to buy back the remaining inventory two years later.

And my 40s? This was the decade where I began to make my mark on a wider world, not just my local community. I built strong communities in Cyberspace, transformed my home-based business into a global presence–and also had an impact in my own town, with the formation of Save the Mountain.

I founded STM to protect our much-loved local mountain from a very poorly conceived development plan. In all my years of organizing, this was the most amazing experience. I started the group when the first story in the local paper quoted a bunch of experts who said “this is terrible but there’s nothing we can do.”

I knew they were wrong. I figured we could gather a small group of activists and stop the project within five years or so. It astonished even me when we got hundreds of people to turn out at hearings, thousands to passively support us with petitions, bumper stickers, and so forth, a very diverse active core of 35, including scientists, legal liaisons, organizers, students, farmers, local landowners…it was the closest thing to a true consensus movement I’ve ever been involved with, bringing together people from all political views and even gaining support from town officials who had a reputation for opposing progressive change.

And we won…in just 13 months.

That experience was one of the forces that shaped my decision to make change on a more global level, and to institute the Business Ethics Pledge campaign. I’ve given that campaign 10 years to see if it can make a fundamental change in the world.

Meanwhile, I expect my 50s to be full of new books to write, new people to influence, new initiatives on sustainability and ethics, new countries to visit, plenty of fascinating client projects, land to preserve, speeches to give, and maybe even getting my office dug out of its clutter.

In short, I fully expect to have an awesome time and even surpass my amazing 40s.

I wish you, as well, an amazing 2007, and an amazing next ten years.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sorry, Newt–Free Speech Means Something in This Country

The often-cynical newt Gingrich, rumored to be considering a run for President, had some shocking and radical things to say about the First Amendment recently, as reported in the conservative Manchester (NH Union-Leader

Gingrich cited last month’s ejection of six Muslim scholars from a plane in Minneapolis for suspicious behavior, which included reports they prayed before the flight and had sat in the same seats as the Sept. 11 hijackers.

“Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists,” Gingrich said. “And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated for being correct in the protection of citizens.”

First of all, I’ve heard a rather different account of that incident from the horse’s mouth and I totally dismiss the idea that they sat in the same seats as the September 11th hijackers.

Second, their apparent “crime” was to engage in prayer during one of the mandatory five times per day that Islam requires, and to do so in the airport lounge rather than at a mosque.

The whole purpose of the First Amendment is to protect dissent. If you only protect the speech you agree with, Newt, you may as well not have the First Amendment. This is a fundamental building block of the American democracy, it’s what has made us special in the world of nations and imitated by many emerging democracies over the last two centuries.

Time for a little lesson from Pastor Martin Niemoller, who wrote the famous poem that begins

They came first for the Communists,

and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

(Full poem, with variations and commentary, at Wikipedia)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bush’s Justice Department Extracts Its Regulatory Teeth?

The Justice Department this week agreed to ease its tough legal tactics against scandal-tainted corporations, requiring prosecutors to get approval from Washington before seeking confidential information between firms and their lawyers.

Hmmmm. Seems like the Bush Administration is once again drawing back and letting the foxes stand guard at the chicken coop.

Now, I confess–I haven’t looked into this in detail, checked a couple of news stories–the above from the insurance industry’s point of view, and Democracy Now’s, which I heard on the radio but can’t locate in the archives. Perhaps the government has been going overboard on this. But I am skeptical.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

How I Gained a Whole Lot More Respect for Solo Radio Talkers

For the past 15 months, I’ve been doing “Principled Profit: The Good Business Radio Show” on a local community radio station.

I am a very experienced radio guest as well as a host, and I also have done a fair bit of public speaking to live audiences. But last night’s show was the first without a guest, and let me tell you–it was hard!

With a guest, I can easily fill my hour. and in front of a live audience, I can talk and talk. But last night, with no one in front of me, I realized how much I rely on audience feedback when I’m speaking.

15 minutes into the show, I started to panic and worry that I’d run out of things to say. I put on my first song to give myself some thinking time (and the audience a break from my voice) and when the song was over, I was fine. I normally play three songs during my show, and did so last night as well.

The show actually went very well–but I was completely drained afterwards. And my throat was tired.

And I have a lot more respect for radio personalities who are their entire show. It’s tough! I grew up listening to people like Lynn Samuels and Steve Post on Pacifica’s WBAI-FM (New York). They could carry a solo monologue for two or three hours, with just a few music breaks. All I can do is tip my hat and say, Wow!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sarbanes-Oxley “Reform”: Do We Still Need Lessons on Foxes and Chicken Coops

One of the things investigative journalists learn very quickly is “follow the money.” And that can mean both a direct trail of funding as well as who stands to benefit from policy changes a particular group is recommending.

Given the naked self-interest of certain large corporations in the watering down of the Sarbanes-Oxley–or at least what they perceive to be their self-interest–it’s not a big surprise that the group advocating to weaken that bill turns out to be funded by the very people who see themselves as benefiting by pulling back the watchdogs.

The Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, which argues that U.S. markets are suffering under overzealous enforcement and unwieldy rules, said it received $500,000 in financial support from the C.V. Starr Foundation. The charity has longstanding ties to Maurice R. “Hank” Greenberg, the former American International Group chief who was ousted from his post last year and is contesting civil charges filed by the New York attorney general.

Two committee members, Wilbur L. Ross Jr., a private investor, and Citadel Investment Group manager Kenneth C. Griffin, contributed “a few hundred thousand dollars” more, Ross said in an interview. The panel was formed this year with support from Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., a former chairman of the Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs.

The email version (thanks, Nancy Smith, for sending it) connects a few more dots:


report was funded by the Starr Foundation, which is controlled by Former AIG

Insurance chief Maurice Greenberg. Greenberg was forced to resign last year

after then-NY Attorney General Elliot Spitzer revealed major accounting

manipulations and misrepresentations at his insurance company.

The irony is, as I point out repeatedly in my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, that high standards of ethics are actually good for the business bottom line.

Columbia’s J-School Accuses Students of Cheating on the Final

Apparently some students got the wording of their two essay questions some days before they were supposed to. However, it was an open exam, with 90 minutes to compelte the test an time during a 36-hour period.

I am both amused and saddened by some of the comments made on Jeff Bercovici’s blog about it.

This unfortunately is the future of journalism, the creme de la creme.

Meanwhile, William Powers takes the media to task for its endless reporting on itself, at the expense perhaps of more urgent news. And also wonders if the ability to comment publicly is such a good thing.

Well, there, I disagree with him. I think the much larger voice of public comment than the few letters that see print is a very positive thing.

Both of these stories courtesy of my occasional look at Romesnko, the journalism blog.