Character Over Talent: “What talent can build over a lifetime, bad character can destroy in a moment” – Roger Gushway

Three years ago I heard Roger Gushway speak these words: “What talent can build over a lifetime, bad character can destroy in a moment.”  Immediately I thought of various people who had reached great heights of success after a lifetime of hard work, only to see it all tragically destroyed because of one pivotal moment’s decision.  I had to ask myself, “Am I prone to the same tragedy?  When I achieve my desired success, will I have the character to sustain it?

As we aspire to achieve our goals in business and beyond, let us maximize every opportunity to build character.  Character is not acquired through learning or reading.  There is no “Character 101” course or “Character for Dummies” book.  Character is established through a series of daily decisions where the rubber meets the road.

When we choose not to compromise our morals, even if it results in loss, character is built.  When we insist on the betterment of someone else in stead of ourselves, character is built.  When our patience is tested in the fires of daily life, character is built.  When all odds are against us but we do not quit, character is built.  And as our character is built, so is our legacy.

Character does not have a time and a place.  It is always relevant, always appropriate.

In the business world, when I evaluate a vendor, a partner, an employee or a customer, I always look for character first.  I’ll take character over talent any day.


Acceptable Negotiation Practices (Sam vs. Jen)

Sam and Jen, your topic of debate has to do with acceptable negotiation practices. Is it acceptable to falsely inflate your initial price in order to discount during negotiations?

People buy from people they can trust. If you cannot be forthright with your pricing, then the trust factor is absent. I have watched some of my colleagues inflate their prices by 20%, then offer a so called “15% discount”. The customer is deceived into thinking they are getting a deal, when in reality they are paying too much. That is not negotiating, it is stealing. This practice is a crutch for the simple-minded, who do not know how to truly position and sell value.

Sam’s position comes across as pure nobility, but I think it is sheer stupidity. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to leave money on the table. If the customer agrees to a certain price – whatever it is – then they must feel they are getting enough value for their money. Otherwise they would not buy. Every buyer wants to know that they are getting a discount. If you begin pricing at list, then you give yourself very little negotiating flexibility. Company A may get $1M of value from your product, while Company B gets $10M of value from the exact same product. In this case, even if you double the price Customer B will still get ten times the value! Many pricing structures do not take this into consideration and list their products for exactly the same price in both cases. To not inflate the price, is to do a disservice to your own company.

And what will you do when Company A and Company B meet at your next conference and trade notes? You just might lose company B altogether! Would that not be a disservice to your company?

Chances are Company A and Company B will have bought at 2 different times, with very different specs. They will not be able to compare apples to apples. And if they do, they should compare value, not price.

Readers, what do you think? Do you agree with Sam or Jen? Join the debate and post your comments.