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Greed Is Stealthy

Midweek Motivator

100_100_timby Tim Moore


Self interest is the enemy of all true affection.


You’ve probably seen the nineties hit movie Wall Street either in its original run or on the plethora of movie channels. It really crystallized and personified the biggest cause of organizational failure. In that movie Michael Douglas played the role of a guy who graduated from the Vladimir Putin School of Charm, seizing a microphone at a meeting of unhappy shareholders and addressing them with three essential and seductive words: greed is good.

From his clothing to his self-indulged confidence the fictional Gordon Gekko actually delivered his film address from the transcripts of a real-life speech in front of a group of college students, by a guy who at that time was considered one of the country’s most accomplished business minds. He also went on to be a high profile prisoner in the Federal judicial system, joining a number of other greed-driven financiers famous for junk bond buy-outs and such. It was a time of fast talk and faster money. That phrase, “Greed is good” became an anthem for some who believed the “whatever it takes” code of conduct. We’re finally realizing what that business generation meant to our future and explains why some titans of commerce still buy that greed orgy today.

Regardless of size or scope, our business the challenge is the same: unless we manage the after-effects of winning, the forces that led us there can subtly turn and destroy us. We find it in business, in sports, and within a group of radio stations where silently, subtly, we hear code for “I’m the one. The credit is really mine.” Unspoken perhaps but manifested in the conduct, attitude, and daily demeanor of someone. Poised to inflict silent damage (at first) it’s completely predictable; from the boardroom to the corner office, extending all the way out to the stations in a market where a sudden spectacular assent has occurred.

Well, “superficiality’s only skin deep.” The good news is that if caught early in a company’s culture this greed-is-good, I-am-team syndrome can be stopped in its tracks and redirected in order for an organization to recalibrate and go forward. The first step in the process begins with recognition. Has a win suddenly turned into a race for press clippings? Has someone attempted to redirect the shared-success inward for self aggrandizement? Or has the corporate office suggested one of their market’s triumphs is really only the result of the corporation’s largess?

The simplest formula for determining a climate gone-wrong comes with sensing the people who generated twenty percent of the work deserve eighty percent of the credit. This is a precursor to much a deeper problem just downstream.

Hailliard was right; “the force of selfishness is as inevitable and as calculable as the force of gravitation.” Hunger is good, pride is good. Greed-financial or otherwise-is the harbinger of a fall. Much of human history is the result of each one looking out for them self.

Tim Moore

Tim Moore

Managing Partner

Audience Development Group