“Remember: Not all business is good business.”

With that, he shook my hand and walked out of my office. It was the first real piece of advice I received when I decided to start my own consulting firm, given to me twenty-four years ago in my office on the 52nd floor of the Pan Am building.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  He was the president of an IT company who was a vendor to my then employer.  We had developed a good professional relationship, me the Vice President of IT, he the vendor of our networking equipment.

Over the years I have had plenty of opportunity to remember his words.  But none more so than on January 2nd of this year.  Still on vacation, I received an e-mail from my partner outlining how the principal at our largest account had been verbally abusive to her and the rest of our staff.  We confronted him, pointing out that his behavior was unacceptable among professionals.  His response was more expletives.  We ended the relationship on the spot.

Of course it hurt loosing that big account.  And, as many have since counseled, these are not the days to be taking to high moral ground!  These days are days of crisis, days when one has to develop a thick skin and brush such insults off.  The prevailing wisdom honed from long years in recession: clients can behave in any manner,  insofar as they pay their bills.  We grit our teeth and mumble, “the client is always right” and we all move on.

But, where do you draw the line?  Perhaps, some will argue, you don’t draw a line at all!  You need to stay flexible, always evaluate your options, and always look to “what’s in it for you.”  Others will argue that, say, sexual harassment and physically abusive behavior is where to draw the line.  Once the behavior becomes criminal, it’s time to stop and call the police!  Anything less, well… it is ok!

I disagree.

We at tmg-emedia enter all professional relationships eagerly, in hopes of learning from each assignment and from other professionals. We are hungry to collaborate and solve the problem.  In our view, a consulting relationship is a partnering towards common goals.  And, although it is not a requirement to be friends with your partner, it is a requirement to respect them, communicate directly and openly, and treat them accordingly.  Anything less, we find, breaks the partnership, creates a negative work environment, and leads to failure.  Both client and consultant lose.

That is not for us.

We strive to create environments of success, spaces of collaboration, discovery, and innovation.  And like attracts like.

The ethos of the 2000s has been do what’s expedient, and profitable, with little regard for what is sustainable, whether in business or the planet. We have felonious bankers who don’t go to jail, and Supreme Court decisions that hand over democracy to corporate monied interests.

The global starts with the local: How we treat one another in personal and business relationships  matters.  Do so with an underlying value system based on mutual respect and sustainability.



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