You may not have heard of Jon Huntsman. But you have used his products hundreds of times. This self-made billionaire founded the Huntsman Chemical Corporation which developed the Styrofoam that is used in McDonald’s clam-shell burger containers. Life was not all smooth sailing for this rags-to-riches businessman. Not one bit. He has been cheated and lied to countless times, but his moral compass stayed true.
Recently I finished reading Winners Never Cheat: Even in Difficult Times by Jon M. Huntsman, here are 11 lessons on why Winners Never Cheat from Jon Huntsman:
Lesson 1: Check your Moral Compass
No one is raised in a moral vacuum. It doesn’t matter what your background or religion is, you know when something just isn’t right. When something doesn’t seem right, step back and evaluate the situation. If that uneasiness doesn’t leave, then you are near dangerous territory. Don’t do it. You must find another way or abandon your current path altogether.
“We know darn well what is right and wrong.”
Lesson 2: Play by the rules
Character is most determined by integrity and courage. Character is also how you act when no one is watching. Cutting in line will often get you short term gain but its long term consequences never work out. The game is always more fun when everyone plays fair.
“Which rules we honor and which we ignore determine our personal character.”
Lesson 3: Set the Example
Whatever your job or title, you have an opportunity to lead with honor. Others are watching, whether it be a supervisor who is looking for that next leader, or a subordinate who is looking for an example to follow. Always know that others have moments of uncertainty and they might be looking to you for direction. You will never regret doing the right thing.
“Strong leaders accept responsibility for problems and deal with them swiftly and fairly. If the problem is your responsibility, then so is the solution.”
Lesson 4: Keep your word
Individual and corporate integrity must become the hallmark of the marketplace. Deep in our hearts, we all have a basic understanding that when we shake on something, it’s supposed to stick. A handshake should always be as binding as an iron-clad legal documents. If you conduct your business in that manner, you will develop a loyal following of customers, vendors and lifelong friends.
“When a handshake is given, it must be honored – at all costs.”
Lesson 5: Don’t Cross the Line
You know when you are about to do something that is dishonest. You don’t need a lawyer to tell you that. If accept dishonesty, you will find yourself in a new environment where there will be even more temptation to do more dishonest things. Eventually you will find yourself with consequences that make you wish you could undo it all. Guess what? Here is your chance, don’t cross that line.
“Our values, if properly anchored, will see us through these storms.”
Lesson 6: Pick Advisers Wisely
If you don’t have knowledge of something, find people who do. It is important to ascertain people by their values, character and deeds, not by their looks, background or school they attended. Seek others who have skills far above your own and are willing to stand up for what is right. After all, you are not able to oversee all of their decisions. You need to ensure they are doing right in your absence.
“Surround yourself with associates who have the courage to say no.”
Lesson 7: Get Mad, Not Even
We have all been hurt by those we trusted. Guess what? The hurt will never stop as long as you are on this earth. Learn to move on. There is a better more productive route if you can get past the hurt and accusations. The only one dwelling on the past is you. To make matters worse, it will stiffly your business and worse, start to change your heat. Transform those hurts into laser-like focus and passion. You will then be able to pursue your dreams with even greater ferocity.
“Revenge is unhealthy and productive, learn to move on.”
Lesson 8: Graciousness is Next to Godliness
Graciousness embodies love, kindness, sensitivity and charity. When we treat others with honor they can become lifelong business associates or even great friends. Honorable actions can often attract other people with similar values. These people react in kind, which is often good for business.
“Treat competitors, colleagues, employees and customers with respect.”
Lesson 9: Operate your business as if it is family owned
To create a culture of respect and honor, you must treat employees like they are part of your family. When they see how much you care, they will start to share your values. A family culture, no matter how large the company, is absolutely necessary to having a business that can endure through good times and bad. After all, competition is out to get you and you need to have employees that ‘have your back’.
“The greatest dividends are those paid to hardworking men and women through bonuses, gifts, scholarships and praise.”
Lesson 10: Give Back
Somewhere, somehow, all of us received help from others along our way. Many times, events went our way that an only be described as “larger forces” at work. We owe a portion of our success to others and the only way to repay that assistance is by sharing your good fortune. The ironic thing is that when you start to give, others take notice. They desire to do business with you in ways that can often leave you with more than before.
“Nobody is completely self-made; return the favors and food fortune.”
Lesson 11: Don’t give up
Life is hard. It always has been and always will be. However, remember that others have gone before you and persevered. Don’t give up. Find the joy in life and keep that in perspective as you tackle your daily challenges. Better days lie ahead…I promise.
“In difficult and challenging times, we must embrace the many positive things in our lives, however small – children and loved ones, flowers and other beauties of nature, the gifts with which we are blessed.”
Winners Never Cheat is mentioned in the book Give and Take several times, citing Jon Huntsman as an example of how a business man conducts himself negotiating and dealing with others along with the focus of conscious giving. The book is full of poignant quotes that drive home the message of the book. It’s worth the price just for this alone, if you enjoy quotes as much as I do.