Thursday, October 15, 2009

Forget about the swine flu – how about a shot of integrity?

I am dually annoyed. Once for having pneumonia – and I'm not a good sick person. I hate being cooped up and not able to play with my kids or work at full speed (or at all). Twice for noticing that no one seems to care about integrity anymore.

Friday, October 9th it was announced that President Obama was the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Seriously? Like, don't you have to do something to encourage peace? Well, lets see what the committee says:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

OOOOHHH Now I know why so many people say they are “visionaries” on Linkedin. I get it – so you can win the peace prize for your vision. Ever heard the phrase ideas are a dime a dozen?I'm not going to go on a political diatribe about the 1001 reasons this is so ridiculous – but I am going to point out that for me the integrity of the prize is completely obliterated. Seriously – past Nobel Peace Prize Laureates include Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King and the 14th Dali Lama. These people devoted their LIVES to peace. They changed the world. Yes, they had a vision for change, the difference is, they implemented change.

In personal experience I have a very close “friend” who helped out a gallery by promoting a charity event and exhibition via twitter. The event organizer asked all of his connections to tweet about the event and they could win a new Ipod friend was happy to pay it forward without the prize, however, it was a pretty cool incentive. My friend tweeted his/her little heart out and in the end won the prize! In twitter vernacular, WOOT! But alas...the prize was never shipped. To make matters worse the organizer ignored several attempts by my friend to get the low down. Why would the organizer ruin his integrity over something so trivial? Is it because integrity just isn't that important any more?

In another personal experience, my husband and I purchased a bedroom set and kitchen table from Ashley Furniture. We found out as we were paying for our purchases that we were going to receive $500 in free groceries in the form of $25 gift cards that we would receive in the mail monthly. We were pretty happy about that – until we figured out all of the hoops we had to jump thru to get the cards. But I did it. I logged in to the specified website, mailed in the required forms, printed out the required coupons, saved my grocery reciepts, mailed them in, etc, etc. We waited patiently month after month for the cards to arrive – but alas, they never did. Then one day they local news reported consumers were angry because the promotion was a scam. I thought for sure that Ashley would take a stand, admit their mistake and go above and beyond rectifying their mistake – but they did not. They sent a lame letter saying they were sorry and they now have partnered with a new promotion company. All we had to do was go to this website, type in a code, find the form, print the form, mail the form with $10 and then we would get our $10 back and in 2 months we'll start getting cards. WHAT??? How infuriating. I'm not paying you to make this situation right! Here was the perfect opportunity for Ashley to really lift up their reputation by showing they had integrity. Instead, they just partnered with another shady operation and called it a day. As an added note, the quality of the furniture is pretty bad.

I was thinking today about the old Tylenol case study. In the fall of 1982 a malicious person or persons placed cyanide tainted capsules into Tylenol Extra Strength bottles, resealed the packaging and as a result 7 unsuspecting people were murdered. Johnson & Johnson took immediate action by forming a 7 person team to first determine “how to protect the people” and second “how do we save the product”. You can read more about the case here. In the end, Johnson & Johnson retained their integrity by doing the right thing. Responding quickly and smartly to a bad situation. Apologizing in a meaningful way – and then implementing their recovery plan. They acted with integrity and made improvements that would protect consumers from future acts of terrorism.

For me, social media is a giant bright white canvas that I can paint over and over to develop a layered landscape of integrity. The company I work for, Automation Service, is a remanufacturer. Remanufactured products (in our industry) automatically have a stigma of being second best, or not as good as the original equipment. It is my number one priority to develop a culture of integrity surrounding Automation Service's brand, and social media has become one of the most important and effective ways of carrying out that mission. I guess what angers me is the realization that perhaps integrity is not as important to others as it is to me. If that is true, then I will remain the outsider ~ because I will not put the paint brush down!

As an added bonus for making it this far down the blog post, here are some folks who I deem as having integrity and are worth a follow or search on twitter:

@zappos and @southwestair have both been doing it right for a long time. They are social media pioneers and consumer advocates

@Dloesh is a Mom, blogger, tweeter and radio host extraordinaire. Her blog is mammalogues, and she is blazing trails for conservatism in St. Louis. She tells it like it is, no holds barred.

A really fun follow is @rizzotees. He's a small business owner who is great at engaging his customers on Facebook and Twitter.

And now I leave you [dramatically] with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

If you want to be important WONDERFUL.
If you want to be recogninized WONDERFUL.
If you want to be great WONDERFUL.
But recognize that he who is greatest among you
shall be your servant.
That's the new definition of greatness.


  1. Nobel prizes also awarded to Henry Kissinger and Yasser Arafat. The first person I remember to receive this prize was Pere Pire of Belgium in 1958 for his work with DPs (Displaced Persons).