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Is Fred Wilson right about dealing in an honest, direct & transparent way?

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I was just reading Fred Wilson’s excellent blog AVC. While I enjoy & respect his work immensely, I don’t always agree with what he has to say.

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The recent post was titled No Shenanigans.

He writes that these are part of Twiliio’s company values…


Be thoughtful. Always deal in an honest, direct, and transparent way.

While anyone can appreciate the sentiment, and everyone wishes things always worked well, sometimes the world of business can be a bit tougher than these words imply.

To me the words themselves are disingenous, ie they are *not* honest and direct to begin with. They sugar coat things in a Disney sort of way, when we know there are horror stories out there.

Buyer, customer & employee alike beware.

1. Disappearing stock options

In an article How can 1% of something equal nothing I wrote about a guy from Dogpatch lab whose company got bought for 100 million, and who didn’t get a penny.

You might think these stories are anomalies. In my personal experience working in the dot-com era & more recently, I’ve seen quite a few of these unfold. As a consultant I’ve always been on the outside, but I sure do have sympathy for the employees who were dealing in an honest, direct, & transparent way, until they found out four years of hard work got them no dividend.

Ouch!

Read: Why I ask clients for a deposit

2. Not getting paid

I’ve had my own experiences of being slighted. I wrote When clients don’t pay to tell my own story. I’ve learned from scrapes & bruises. And I tend to be more careful now, especially with new prospects.

That’s another way of saying, when I was young & green, I was naive. I was honest, direct and transparent. And because of it I was taken advantage of.

So again folks, buyer beware in this world.

Related: What’s the luckiest thing that’s happened in your career?

3. Aspirational

I think at the end of the day, the words Fred quotes are an aspiration. We would like to shoot for that ideal. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be careful as well.

Protect your own interests, and read between the lines. You never know when things will go south.

Trust is something that is earned, over time. Especially in the business world. And all the company value statements in the world can’t rewrite human nature.

Read: What mistakes did you make when you first started out as a consultant?

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