Look both ways

I recently read a book that destroyed my views on a divisive topic.

I did not join the “other side”. I didn’t necessarily leave “my team.” But I gained a new perspective and a new respect for a group that I had comfortably assumed was wrong. It was a comfortable assumption because everyone around me shared it.

I wonder how many other strong-held beliefs could be similarly shattered if I simply exposed myself to an intelligent and rational opposing viewpoint?

Grasping an idea points your attention in one direction. Wisdom makes you look both ways.

See you at the polls

If you are a US citizen and able, I hope you vote tomorrow.

You won’t be voting simply for a man or a party but for what you believe in. I know you believe in courage, fairness, justice, kindness, truth and wisdom because you’ve been reading this blog on ethical leadership.

And you won’t be voting simply on your behalf but on behalf of the disenfranchised, whether they be children or convicts or otherwise silenced.

We had four years to set aside one hour to vote tomorrow.

See you at the polls.

We will get hurt

We spend a lot of time asking employees to mind what they do and say so as not to hurt of offend others.

Perhaps there should also be room for us to teach employees how to prepare for hurt and offenses.

Here is one method, borrowed from today’s entry in The Daily Stoic. First, we should not expect to work our entire life without a colleague offending us. This expectation is absolutely ridiculous. Second, we should consider (as in think carefully about) the offenses that can be realistically thrown at us. Third, and clearly most difficult, we should want for these offenses to materialize as an opportunity to practice excellence and virtue.

This teaching reminded me of a story about Ajahn Chah, the famous Thai Buddhist monk:

Before saying a word, he [Ajahn Chah] motioned to a glass at his side. “Do you see this glass?” he asked us. “I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.

When we know – truly know – that someone will eventually offend us at work one day, we can shift our attention to the joyful moments at hand.

Where the best gets better

This post is the fourth in a series devoted to my reading notes (and thoughts) on the essays contained in The Culture Book, Volume 1. This “essay” is in the form of interviews of  employees at WP Engine, a WordPress platform. Most of my notes are direct quotes from employees.

Everyone is responsible for culture. We all protect it like a dragon hoards its gold. We embrace it sacredly with every new hire, with every strategic decision. Culture is often the sole reason why we make a hire pass.

We have a culture budget. The largest portion is spent on company outings, happy hours and team meals. Nothing cements the bonds of a work friendship like good conversation and a beverage in a comfortable setting. The events with the most impact are certainly those that include more than one team, location, or department.

We like to ensure that our metric of success is directly tied to the beneficiary of our work. Nearly everything we do at work is for the benefit of others. All opportunities and all challenges have another person at the other end. Focusing on the needs of people first provides us wisdom, it provides us heart. We want to make sure that we never refer to Marketing as Marketing. Marketing is Lisa and Ryan and John.

Weekly cultural meetings are key to ensuring all offices remain in sync.

Find the things that matter, that are foundational to your organization, and talk about them all the time. Bring them up as often as you can. When you do this, the things that really matter become part of the company’s DNA.

Make culture about people. Do not make culture about culture.

“Why you need to worry about ______.”

GDPR. Cybersecurity. FINRA. Blockchain. You fill in the blank.

We see this title everywhere on the internet. For fear of missing out – we are compliance professionals after all – we click on it. We have to. We need to be informed.

But we approach our learning session with fear. We are primed to look for the monster, not for the sword to slay it. Often times, these articles are written by consultants in shining armor looking for you to hire them to slay the dragon. But you are not a damsel in distress, are you?

By all means, read the article but keep calm. Look for learnings and solutions. When none can readily be found (among all the hype), do a Google search on the topic. There is always another expert generously offering wisdom for free, using titles like “What you need to know about _____.” or “How to prepare for _____.” These titles don’t generate as many clicks but they will bring you more value.

Acting justly


“Wisdom and acting justly are the same.”

– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 4.37

I’ve always had a problem with the image of a wiseman as a long-bearded recluse living in a cave at the top of a snowy mountain. What can you be wise about if you live by yourself and do nothing all day?

I much prefer the Stoic view of Marcus Aurelius: “Wisdom and acting justly are the same.” When I hear that someone made a “wise move”, I picture a person who thought deeply about what needed to be done and then took the right action. Those who should know better and fail to act, we often call fools.

The ethical leader is not simply expected to act but to act justly.

Pause, give, energize

I believe in pausing for a minute every hour, an hour every day, a day every week.

A pause is not an opportunity to do nothing. I use it to breathe, to reflect and to give.

Today’s ethics & compliance professional has little time to pause. Yet, taking the time to breathe, reflect and give is critical.

Take some time today – and every day – to reflect on your role, identify how you bring value to your organization, and share your wisdom with the rest of us. You can use a free blog site like this one. And use a pseudonym if you’d like.

The act of giving will energize you.

And us.



A few days ago, I complained out loud on Twitter that too few Ethics & Compliance Officers are putting out their content on the internet. So much wisdom, so little sharing.

To be clear, several thought leaders are putting out great content on a daily basis. But the vast majority of us are simply re-posting and reTweeting the same posts over and over again.

My Tweet was picked up by Farida Alkaff (@FarAlkaff) and she is now challenging all of us to increase our participation over the next two weeks. All you have to do is put some original content out there (Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat, Anchor, etc.) and use the hashtag #ThinkCompliance17.

Of course, it’s OK to use this hashtag when sharing other people’s content. But we desperately want to hear what you have to say!

Ethical outliers

Today, the ethical leader is the exception, the outlier.

Most people are ethically aware.  They recognize an ethical dilemma when it is staring them in the face.

Fewer are good ethical decision-makers, having both the wisdom to make the right call and the guts to execute.

Fewer still can execute in an inspiring way, drawing others in their tribe.  These leaders are the most valuable asset an organization can acquire today.

And in this connected, transparent world, they can easily be discovered.

Get yours today.