Oh the stories I could tell…
I just walked away from $20,000 a month. Not the first time. Probably won’t be the last. When I opened a consulting company in Central Europe, the first client that wanted to hire us was a multi-billion-dollar tobacco company. Turned them down without an interview. And recently I lost a $2 million consulting project. What happened in all these cases?
More specifically, the very unique and clear set of values I live my life by. (I don’t promote or proselytize them, but they work for me.) In each of these cases I felt like I had to walk away from big money, to keep my self-respect, and remain congruent with the values I believe in.
Maybe you think I’m such a wealthy guy that I can shrug off money like this and live in my sanctimonious little cave, without any consequences. And while I don’t deny I’m quite blessed and not sleeping under a bridge – let me assure you, that losing that kind of dosh definitely impacts how I roll.
I was recently speaking with an event promoter and they asked me to create a new presentation for their event, based on the story about losing the $2 million consulting contract. They wanted me to share what I would change, so that in a similar situation in the future, I wouldn’t lose that contract. (And of course the lesson for the attendees, what they could do, so they would never lose the contract in a similar situation.) The promoter was gopsmacked when I told her I would never change anything, and in another similar situation, I will probably lose the contract again.
Because here’s what happened…
The president of a very large company attended a seminar I conducted in the Middle East. Afterwards, we spent many hours on the phone, agreeing to a $2 million consulting agreement where I would assist his company in creating a long-term growth strategy, rebranding it, and moving the HQ to Dubai. We had several follow up phone calls, he read the contract, and we agree to meet in four days to sign the deal and get started.
And then it all got derailed. How?
His company is headquartered in a certain Islamic country. And he discovered after our calls that the government was wiretapping him (as they do a lot of their citizens), when they contacted him and told him in no uncertain terms that they didn’t want his company working with me. (For new readers to this blog and my books, I’ve written extensively about the dangers of organized religions, and the serious threats posed by extremist governments, such as the one in charge of that particular country.) And my potential client knew that if he continued with my contract, he would face serious consequences from his government.
How could I have prevented this from happening?
Easy. I could just bite my tongue. Hint at, but never criticize powerful institutions and governments that I think are dangerous and anti-humanity, and thus anti-prosperity. There are lots of “politically safe” ways to do work like mine. But I wouldn’t be providing the best possible value to those that follow my work. Because I hold that relationship with you as sacred, I’m not willing to compromise on things like that. So I’ve lost income in the past, and will almost certainly lose more in the future.
It’s easy to stand up for principles or values when it’s in the abstract. But what happens when it really costs you?
Most people like to say they live by certain principles and hold definite values. But how often is that really true? I ask, because personally I believe they are a huge part of the prosperity equation.
So what about you? Have you really done the critical thinking about which values are important to who you are, and who you want to become? And are you willing to pay the price they require?