A couple of weeks ago, one of my companies acquired a significant competitor in California, Cash4shooz, for an undisclosed sum. A member of my team asked me as we began to speak about the rebranding if we were going to continue to include the founder of the business, Cindy Bakay, in the marketing.
My emphatic reply was, “Yes!”
Other Side of the Fence
At one time, what now seems to be a lifetime ago, I was the president of a shoe manufacturing company. And, as many of my readers know, when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami happened, my life ultimately took a different path. It was that event which propelled my destiny into another direction than I initially thought I would be pursuing. I became an entrepreneur and haven’t looked back.
Today, I’m the owner of many businesses and brands, but one of the things that I have not forgotten is that when I left an organization I founded, how I was “erased” from everything having to do with the entity. I’ve been on the other side of the fence when someone––for whatever reason––thinks it’s best to scrub everything about the founder and original visionary from the business. It’s wrong, and I would never do that to someone else.
Being a success in business is not easy, and I think that every entrepreneur understands that sometimes along the way, you got into complicated situations with people. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, even when I’ve always tried to do the best by business, my teams and myself. But, we wouldn’t be living this life if imperfection wasn’t part of the day to day experience.
Nevertheless, to me, every day is an opportunity to take the high road. A couple of years ago I funded an entrepreneur who had created a business similar to mine, but on another continent, to come and visit me and I also went through the expense of helping them develop their site, which we hosted on our servers. I paid for this person’s travel, stay, as well as the development of the business website, which included design, copywriting and technical development. My intent was to share and perhaps collaborate further down the line.
One day, I discovered that this person had taken everything we created and replicated it elsewhere. Since we had been hosting the site, it wasn’t as if I wasn’t going to discover this move sooner or later. I didn’t understand why the entrepreneur decided to replicate all of our work and copy it elsewhere without telling me anything. My team wanted us to look into legal recourse because we had essentially given away our work and the spirit of our agreement had been violated.
In keeping with my philosophy of taking the high road, I didn’t pursue any legal action. To this day, this entrepreneur never reached out to me and explained anything that happened, why he took our work, copied it and then didn’t bother to connect with us. Still, it doesn’t matter because my businesses continue to grow exponentially and his continues to struggle years after he took our work without asking. I think this is often referred to as karma.
A Founder’s Story
As far as I am concerned, Cindy will always be a part of the history of Cash4Shooz. She was a mom that started a shoe drive fundraising company after one of her three sons brought home to her another fundraising envelope. Cindy then created a company to help schools, organizations and others raise money without having to ask for funds or have families sell items people did not want to buy. I think that’s awesome and she did some fantastic work starting from an idea to a successful company.
A founder is always part of an organization or business, just as I am part of the DNA structure of the organization I founded years ago that the current management has sought to erase. Doing right by others––always––especially when it’s tough or you’d much rather not, is the right thing to do. In any company I buy or person that I work with, you’ll find me always looking to take the high road. If you want to be successful in business, I advise the same thing. Yes, there’s always a shortcut or a more comfortable path, but having integrity is something that will pay dividends, always.
Author of “Get Off the Couch: Grip & Rip and Break the Barriers Holding You Back in Life”(Free Digital Download)
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