Integrity…Its’ all the really matters


In business, at home, and in life, integrity is all that really matters. A close friend of mine once told me in passing, “When in doubt, take the high moral road.” Those are pretty good marching orders and have been part of my core values ever since.

Do you remember the tainted Tylenol scare in 1982? Do you remember the reaction taken by the large healthcare manufacture Johnson and Johnson? They recalled every bottle, that’s 31,000,000 bottles, of Tylenol in stores whose total retail value was 100 million dollars. Everyone said it was marketing suicide.

But Johnson & Johnson took the big picture view and felt strongly about the integrity they owed the public. And it paid off. Even today when I can purchase the ‘house’ brand of acetaminophen at Wal-Mart, BJs, or Costco, I always buy Tylenol because I remember that the company did the right thing many years ago.

Soon it was confirmed that someone poisoned packages of Tylenol as they set on the shelf in a drug store. The triple-sealed tamper proof packaging that is common on many pharmaceuticals today is a direct result of what happened many years ago.

L.L. Bean is another classic example. Every child these days takes a backpack to school. As everyone in New England knows, a stop at L.L. Bean’s is required for all summer vacation trips in Maine. My daughter Jennifer was just starting high school and we purchased a great backpack complete with monogrammed initials. The sales person said very sincerely “If you ever have a problem with the backpack, we will replace it free of charge.” Now we all know what happens to backpacks. They get overstuffed, abused, and dragged through every element on the face the planet. Over time the zipper became dysfunctional and the leather bottom was worn paper thin.

I meekly returned the backpack to L.L. Bean with a note inquiring if, in spite of the obvious abuse, would L.L. Bean consider replacing the backpack. In 10 days a brand new backpack arrived complete with the monogram at no charge. It took us three backpacks to get through high school and L.L. Bean backed everyone.

Call it reverse integrity on my part, but when it was time for college we started all over again. We needed a whole new book bag and it was purchased from where else, L. L. Bean.

In raising a family, running a business and managing life’s decisions, it is easy to focus on making money, doing what it takes to keep moving forward, and fulfilling the dream of being successful. But those elements pale in comparison to your ability to look yourself in the mirror every morning and truly believe you made the right decision for the right reason.

Constantly having integrity may come at a cost, but at the end of the day it is priceless.

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