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Element 18. Honesty and Integrity > Practical Experience—This Deserves the Maxi...

Practical Experience—This Deserves the Maximum Weight of 3

This element can be tricky. Behavior that trampled on my sense of honor and integrity long ago is now trivial and unworthy of concern. However, given the experience we are having with WorldCom, Enron, Tyco, and others, a lack of integrity can no longer be taken lightly. The key is learning about your own reputation up front.

Is a convicted felon incapable of building a reputation of honesty and integrity? Before you leap to answer, note that there are some genuinely first-class individuals out there who are exconvicts.[1] Perhaps the smartest thing is to avoid generalizations and instead dwell on the specifics of an individual’s background. Have there been allegations of wrongdoing involving SEC rules or generally accepted accounting principles? If so, you should consider wrapping yourself in the protective cocoon of a fine team and removing yourself from being named as an officer or board member of the company.

[1] As a matter of practice I typically do not avoid working with ex-convicts who are attempting to launch new businesses. Yes, I need to know them, but these days it is just not hard at all to know someone who has served time in prison. Besides, it is always interesting to see how people carry the bricks that life gives them to carry.


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