Sunday, November 15, 2015

Reputation and Revenue

There was a time integrity was everything. Companies were ruined if their scandals came to light and reputations meant the difference between being on top or ending on the bottom. Nowadays perception becomes the reality so the ones who can manipulate social opinion become king makers and dream breakers.

The beauty of being true to yourself is that you can't really change. People wish they could be more of many things in their professional life, more outspoken, more intuitive when it comes to who to trust but you can't change who you are fundamentally and you can't waste time worrying about things that have come and past. You can of course continue to be you and that can be your greatest asset.

Everyone loves a rags to riches story or a sinner finding faith and therefore peace at the end of the day. In politics and in companies there are so many who strive for their dreams and find themselves being obstacles in the paths of many, some who are not ethical or simply seeking attention and glory by cutting corners and treating others like garbage. Having had just a couple of those in a 30+ year span makes me quite lucky but that pathetic piece of garbage cost that company millions and continues to do so. I could have made taking them down my mission but being me I knew they mattered very little in the scheme of things. After all you get what you paid for and the company backed the lame horse so C'est la vie. Life had way bigger issues to gt involved in and to truly make a difference. So while they lied and tried to besmirch my good name to cover up their crimes I went to mentors whose reputations withstood the test of time, decades of civil rights advocacy, men and women who lived what they offered in advice and I learned the three things that made me realize I'd win no matter what.

1. You Are Never What People Say You Are

We've all taken those tests to help us pinpoint the type of people we are, categorize ourselves for a better understanding on how to present ourselves, for interviews or writing our biographies. Society and big business takes seriously just how we sell ourselves or come across others in group settings. We are not what we say we are, we are not what others say we are. It is hoped that people are clear and truthful when they write their resumes and biographies for profiles like Linkedin but we know there are liars out there and some good ones who get away with portraying themselves as something they are not. Then there are those who are more than they let on because they've not the words or chutzpah to be their own champions. When my boys would come to me disheartened because someone they thought was a friend had turned out to be nothing of the kind I had to explain that people are what they tend to do over a long period of time and not what they say they are.

I also explained that people are going to believe whatever they want about a person and so you shouldn't care. I am grateful for that time "in politics" because it freed me from a lifetime of feeling obligated to be more for others. Once you get targeted by those who wish to paint a different picture you begin to understand that it's a very sick and sad game to many and that real life is how you choose to live your life day to day and who you spend time with and what you devote your time to, not the garbage of gossip mongers. You will always be that picture they paint so simply embrace that picture as a character in a book written by idiots. Embrace all your characters and make them work FOR YOU.

So I taught my sons that "haters are going to hate". Those who don't like you, who wish to cause you or your reputation harm add a spotlight. They'll never change their minds so they are not relevant. Who cares. Those that care will know the truth and those who don't know you will want to get to know you to find out for themselves. As time progresses people end up in one of two categories. Those who believe the hype and so what, they don't pay your bills and those who don't and add positivity to your life. The wonderful thing about "haters" is that they add to your story, they make you legend among those who care to learn the truth and in time you can laugh at all the attempts people make to tell a story that isn't real. As long as you do not live in that reality you are above all that toxic fray. Live among the others, the people who have seen, heard and lived the reality of who you are and see beyond the gossip and lies, that is where you realize you belong.

I tell my sons to write everything down, on paper and on a personal blog because there may come a day when what people write looks nothing like what happened. Having both can help one regroup and center themselves (and it's great for evidence if needed!) What is also wonderful is taking full ownership of who you are. Normal is being in the middle of the spectrum. Being Bi-Polar and seeing how society is told of this condition, how one is treated I've come to see that it's more hype than anything. Just another way of setting people apart. That is fine with me since my condition has been one of the best reasons I've come so far in my professional life. What others see as a detriment I've come to see as my greatest asset, my symptoms. (that's a blog entry for another day) So call me crazy (pun intended) but since I've been open about it for almost a decade, whatever names or excuses people come up with to chastise me or crucify me actually mean nothing to me. Haters are going to make me legendary.

2. All Press Is Good Press

Some of the biggest names in politics have told me point blank that "all press is good press". I've seen that first hand. Having volunteered for NYC politicians since I was 13 I've seen men and women who I thought were good - and evil - come and go, rise and fall and be vindicated or persecuted in the community or press. A couple that I've come to know have gone to jail. Some have disappeared, maybe out of shame or simply they grew tired of it all, never to be heard about and others came back from jail only to soar even higher (to my amazement but apparently not to others). Revenue goes to the ones who know how to use it to their advantage, good or bad. Companies who lie, cheat and steal from their customers can either get hit hard or spin it so they bypass prosecution. We read about these things every day. This is not new.

Having taught my sons that money is merely a resource, one of many they've come to see it for what it truly is. It does not define them because there are so many other things of more value in life and with an abundance of those you don't miss having great amounts of money. I laugh because I know people whose entire lives revolves around their bank accounts, it is what defines them and they all band together and laugh and point at people who think as I do - telling the world my opinion would change if I were to be overflowing with cash. This is the funny thing, I've made a million dollars in my lifetime ( and I'e have traveled outside of the United States. I might not have done a fraction of what the wealthy have but I've seen and done amazing things in my 49 years. I've also worked in so many different types of jobs that I appreciate some things in all of them. I love working with my hands as well as working on team projects. I enjoyed field work when it was honest and I enjoy conferences and expos.

Revenue will follow anything that is being sought after. Supply and demand. If the demand is for gossip then it can be supplied and some create their entire lives around commentating on lies and make millions doing so. Others fight the good fight, lose battles but write books, go on interviews and win the war when everything is laid out before the public. As long as one is alive the ability to make money is there and in some cases even after death. Funny how people who have died have found their "stock" goes up afterward and it is because of their story and because of the stories generated. There is always opportunities to make money and once you decide what is your priority, to have the truth come to light, to make money, to ruin a good name, to hide your crimes from the public and that is where public interests will follow - as well as shareholder interests so it seems.

3. It's Not Where You Fell From But Where You Land

The internet is filled with stories of scandal and people being called everything negative (or positive) under the sun and the world being the drama-voyeur that it is watches as if everyone's life is a reality show they can enjoy without consequence. The difference is some of us welcome the world to come and watch and listen and make comments and opinions on every detail because when the truth must come out it must come out in its entirety. Groups of people being treated differently from others, victims paid off to keep quiet, closing ranks around perpetrators and loyal people treated like they're the enemy. Who doesn't want to know where the saga ends?

I'd been here once before when I'd tried my own hand at being a representative of the people. Having been a school board president while under the Bloomberg Administration I'd seen greed up close and how people who were trying to make ends meet found themselves having a price when it came to selling out on the good of the children and parents they represented. It is not for the faint of heart. My saving grace for never having to make those choices were that I didn't serve two masters and didn't have to. I had a job and I wasn't going to sell my constituents down the river for some admin job at the Board of Ed. Many did though. I saw someone who was an advocate for years and only making $30,000 a year turn their back on everything they fought for in exchange for a $125,000 job made up just for the purpose of creating havoc among the parents of public school kids. I thought then it was my job that saved me, that gave me the distance from having to make such life changing decisions. Decisions that of course would have impacted my family personally but worse would have negatively impacted all those children and parents for having sold one's soul. I was lucky and I used to praise my company and give them the credit for all of my successes because the people I'd worked for since then were the best in their fields and great mentors and allies. They've since left the company and had I been given the chance every time I insisted I'd leave for lesser pay I would have been better off somewhere else but I've come to accept and appreciate where I am today because a life is never over until its over and it's never where they made you stumble but where you landed. I landed on the side of angels and as it happens, the Pope. (stay tuned as my journey is one of amazing meetings and opportunities to really make a difference)

The wonderful thing about real life is just that. Come back to my "story" and maybe you can have a front row seat to the unveiling of the truth. Real life is public. Anyone can tune in as long as you know where and when it's going to take place.