It is always super awesome to get the chance to talk to people who have changed history.
Bob Woodward stopped by WTAMU today and had a chat with some students and faculty. I got to be one of the lucky people to listen to him speak and ask him some questions.
Some background on Mr. Woodward.
HE EXPOSED THE WATERGATE SCANDAL. It was a pretty big deal.
He is one of the most influential journalists to practice in the United States and has uncovered more Government secrets than you will find dried grapes in Raisin Bran.
Of course he had some great quotes like, “Always go to the scene” and “Reporters get to make a momentary entry into someone’s life when they are interesting, and get out when they are not“. Pretty funny.
My favorite though, and the one I want to talk about in this post, goes like this,
“When I wake up in the morning, even at my age, the first thing I think is, ‘What are the bastards up to?’ “
Business ethics today have changed drastically from what they used to be. You can no longer get by with sketchy practices and false advertising. Transparency is key, and it is people like Bob Woodward, with his clever morning routine, who have helped make it so.
Bob Woodward empowered the American people to take control of their Government and to figure out what is going on behind closed doors. The people have not only taken this to heart with politics, but also with businesses.
Social Media, and the Internet as a whole, allow consumers to wield vast amounts of information and gives them a means to distribute their research. If a company does something out of line the consumers who know about it will pass it on to the world. One small isolated incident can turn into a huge national fiasco.
And rightfully so. It is far too easy for a company to throw something under the rug and pretend it never happened. Accountability is key to maintaining an upstanding business, and it is people like Bob Woodward who keep that accountability. All of us have a bit of that investigator in us and we should all use it.
Just like with the Watergate scandal, we need to keep those in power honest and accountable for the things they do. It is not to be menacing or spiteful, but instead an attempt at keeping things balanced. If the person in power is being honest and forthright, they would have no need to worry if anyone is looking over their shoulder. It is easy to stray from the right path when no one is watching though.
Telling the truth is not always the easiest thing to do, but it is certainly the right thing. I will always urge brands I work with to be as honest and fair as possible, and I hope everyone who reads this will strive to make their own professional careers full of integrity as well.
Transparency is here to stay. As long as people have access to information and have the will to publicize it companies won’t be able to get away with anything. If you mess up, admit it immediately and move on. The faster you correct your mistake, the faster it will go away.
Try to hide it though, and you will just end up causing even more damage.
Credibility = Trust