I had my credit card stolen.
The story might have ended there, but it was just starting…..
I hired an office manager, his name was Ted.
Ted’s job was to take care of supplies, and manage my calendar for an early office of 25 employees.
He used my credit card, and then I would routinely submit an expense report to our CFO for reimbursement.
I found out that he bought cell phones, using my credit card.
He bought phone plans, and phone cards, with my credit card.
He bought furniture for his apartment, with my card.
When I found out, I was mad. So mad in fact, that I literally wanted to deck him in the office – but I then, thought better of it.
When I confronted him, he was calm and unapologetic.
“I didn’t think you would find out.”
“What does it matter? I didn’t hurt anyone – and you have lots of stuff.”
I sat in my chair seething, seeking to understand how anyone could think this way.
I asked him calmly, “Can you share with me how your mind processes the simple fact that you stole from me, and charged thousands of dollars on my personal card, and you have no remorse, or regret?”
He did not care.
He got up, walked out – and I never saw him again.
I’ve had people steal, cheat and lie to me – to gain something that perhaps they needed.
It hasn’t altered my trust in people. It has made me more aware.
Recently, a friend called. A 20 year business associate stole over $2 million dollars from him by padding his bills.
Was he lazy, did he trust too much?
I don’t know, but I prefer to think the latter.
Trust is not a two way street. Trust is given, or earned – but it need not be reciprocated.
Trust can be a one way street, and it can be lethal.
In today’s world it seems to be OK, and accepted to “skirt the truth” when it comes to ones word, moral/values, and honesty.
It’s true in both public and private life.
We recently found out a competitor lied about us, and our capabilities in an effort to denigrate our product, and make themselves look better.
And it paid dividends, as they won the business.
I was mad for a brief second – but then, thought to myself --- “their misrepresentations will come full circle, and the planets will correct themselves.”
Am I delusional?
I think not.
As terrible as it sounds, I do believe that there is always a spot for an “ethical, honest, and positive” – organization in the world of corporate America.
Who would dare say, “We are NOT ethical, honest and positive?”
And, that’s my point.
I did not question Ted, or ask him if he was “moral, ethical and honest” before I hired him.
He would have told me he was anyway. He would have lied.
But, I could have asked differently.
“What are your biggest failures?”
“What are you most embarrassed about?”
“What was your single biggest mistake?”
“What is your weak spot?”
“Tell me about someone that does not like you, and what would they say about you?”
These questions – force honest answers.
When I interview someone, and they cant be direct, honest, self effacing and downright in the fact that they can speak the truth about their faults, mistakes, and shortcomings…
Well, I don’t want them. I can’t hire someone who cannot be honest about themselves.
I’m sure Ted would have told me (had I asked) that he had no faults, and no shortcomings.
Our best employees at Lotame go into great detail about their failures, embarrassments, and faults during the interview process. These are the honest people I want to work with – and who I respect – and TRUST, from the start.
We end up partnering with people we deserve in the end.
I don’t know why people say, “The End” – because as far as I’m concerned – every new connection, is a beginning.
Constantly waiting to see how the fabric of the partnership turns out.
Will they be a “Ted”? Or, will they be a trusted connection?
I thank Ted for being an early lesson, (stealing from me) and one I learned by paying for cell phone plans and cards, from nearly every bodega in the Bronx.
I hope all those free phone calls that were made by people, with my stolen credit card, paid as many dividends for those people, as Ted did for me, in “The End.”