Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Adventures of Selling Out

This week's podcast episode is entitled "The Adventures of Selling Out".

A few weeks ago, I got an offer to “sell my company”, but the offer wasn’t for money, nor was it even to buy an equity stake in a firm that I could help grow as a capable business professional.  It was more so someone who saw (what they thought) was an opportunity to use my current state of “misfortune” for the sake of their own profitability.

Now, to be clear, I certainly believe that I have a skill set that can be merged with the right entity to form a powerhouse organization to take the social media and small business worlds by storm, but it’s not a skill set that can be acquired for pennies on the dollar, or in this case no pennies on the dollar.  I walk away from the “opportunity” with a stronger sense of confidence in my abilities, knowing that I am on the right path and going in the right direction, and eventually, that all my hard work, and continued striving will soon pay off.

But this whole thing got me to thinking about the notion of “selling out”.  Someone recently told me that the right way to start a business is to design it with the end in mind, and that end, if my goal was to build a successful business, was to create something that someone else would want to buy a few years down the line.  Clearly good advice for any serial entrepreneur to follow, so I had to think “what am I (or any particular business entity that I’m involved in) worth, and more importantly, what am I willing to “sell” or “sell out” in order to get what I want out of life?”.

There was a time when I used to say that “I didn’t have a price”, meaning that my integrity and reputation couldn’t be bought.  Now that I’m older, having faithfully held on to my principles and integrity, I can now see how it has been a liability in certain circumstances, especially in scenarios where I could have profited, if only I was willing to lie or deceive (even for a short while) to achieve some “greater good”.  Additionally, having gotten to my “bottom dollar” point, I now see some things based through “the eyes of poverty” that weren’t quite as clear to me when I had on those rose colored middle class glasses.

That doesn’t mean that I’ve now set a price on my integrity and principles, but it does mean I’m not so na├»ve as to not put a price on what it would cost for me to waiver or altogether chuck the values I hold most dear.  I recently watched “The Inside Job” which is the Academy Award winning documentary about the recent Wall Street meltdown and recession that many of us are still suffering within, despite everyone talking about a “better economy”.  What made me see the film, aside from the fact that I LOVE documentaries, is that I happened to turn to the Oscars broadcast this year, right when the creators were receiving their award, and they mentioned that no one person responsible for the meltdown had been criminally prosecuted or even investigated.

This was interesting, though not surprising to me, because I don’t think that anything substantive will ever be done to those that caused all the problems on Wall Street, because many of them are still in the same positions as they were before, even if they’ve moved on to other organizations.  They’re still pulling the strings that guide the way that money ebbs and flows between rich people, all at the expense of the poorer ones, and until they BECOME one of the poor ones (which is very unlikely) they won’t ever act in their best interest.

As I watched the documentary, I thought about all the “corporate bigwigs” who sat back and created this overly complicated, yet ridiculously simplistic scheme to earn millions while defrauding the uneducated and uninformed, and I WISH I could be shocked and/or appalled.  Yeah, what they did was terrible, but it seems to me so many people, even today, aren’t aware of it (or really don’t care) that it’s almost like a “victimless crime”.

Yes, everyone (including me) has negative commentary about “Wall Street BigWigs” and their greedy corporate malfeasance, but how many of us can actually NAME these bigwigs or know what company they worked for, and what they really did wrong.  I admit, until I saw the documentary, I didn’t know many of the executives that worked there, and even in cases where I knew company names like “Merrill Lynch”, “Bear Stearns”, “Lehman Brothers”, and “AIG”, I only knew superficially what each of these entities had done, and if I were quizzed (prior to a few days ago) on the subject, I likely would have failed.

So when I think of my somewhat lackadaisical response to the whole Wall Street debacle, I can only get but so upset that I have no one to talk about this documentary with, because no one I know has seen it.  Also, to be honest, as a person seeking to build “something” from “nothing”, I’m actually quite taken by the fact that they were able to make millions buying and selling these imaginary derivatives and playing with imaginary money, essentially creating something (in terms of billions for themselves in compensation and bonuses) from nothing, which is what most of the people effected by their actions ended up with.  I’m not saying what they did was right, in any way, just saying that I find it interesting, and it makes me wonder if I’d be able to stick to my own “high falutin principles” if there were millions or even billions at stake.  Would I sell out my fellow man, or what I believe in, to make a buck?  Sure, I say NO now, but that’s because I haven’t truly been confronted with a similar scenario.

What I can say, is on a regular basis I interact with people that are (or have been) clearly “taken” by someone who’s scruples are questionable and who’s seeking to use their ignorance against them, in the technology and social media realm, and as this field progresses, I can see that it’s ripe picking for anyone who’s willing to “bend the truth” or outright lie to people for short-term financial gain.  I also see that on some level, people don’t even WANT the truth, and they’re more than content to believe the lies you tell them, because they want to believe that they can get “something for nothing” or for very little investment, especially in terms of social media which so many people initially gravitate towards because it’s “free”.  But before I go off on a tangent, and forget my initial point, let me say this: I’ve thought about selling out, and the long-term implications of it, and as it stands today, my price hasn’t been met yet.  In fact, I still can’t quite think of a number that would make me vacate my principles, but I have to be honest and say there probably is one, even if I don’t know what it is. 

So, I’ve now committed this statement to text (and podcast) and am sending it out into the “social media space” and I fully expect this to come back and bite me should I later run for public office, or get caught up in some multibillion dollar scheme, and yes, I said BILLION, because let’s be real, millions really aren’t worth selling your soul for! LOL.

What about you? What’s your price to sell out? Have you ever thought about it, or do you have a number? 

Please feel free to leave comments below or give me your feedback directly, either by email “podcasts @ exclusivemultiplicity.com”, or by finding me on Facebook, Twitter (@KindraCotton), or LinkedIn.  You can also contact me via Skype at my name Kindra.Cotton, and you can now call me on my Google Voice line at: (201) 870-0234.  If you leave a message on my Google Voicemail line, please be sure to mention which podcast you listened to.
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Come back next week, and have a Blessed Day!

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