Bruce Weinstein has written an amazing new book: The Good Ones. Here’s a brief synopsis of his outstanding work:
Employers look for two things when hiring or promoting people: knowledge and skill. They rarely, if ever, consider character. Yet character is the key to extraordinary business success. The Good Ones presents ten crucial qualities of high-character employees, qualities that enhance employee satisfaction, client relationships, and the bottom line.
You’ll read stories from managers and employees across the U.S. and beyond who reveal how honesty, courage, loyalty, and patience have helped their organizations maintain an edge over the competition. Each chapter is devoted to a single quality of character and ends with questions employers can use to hire and promote the Good Ones — people who are consistently honest, accountable, fair, and grateful.
Whether you’re looking to bring new people into your organization or seeking a job or promotion yourself, The Good Ones will help you appreciate in practical terms why character is the missing link to excellence.
Now join me in my interview with Bruce Weinstein on Straight Talk Radio
CHUCK: Hi, this is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio and I am really excited. It’s kind of cool whenever you get to, in some form or fashion, participate in the launch of an outstanding book. The title of the book is The Good Ones and it’s written by my friend Bruce Weinstein and Bruce has joined us. I bought the book, I downloaded the book, I’m a downloader, so I downloaded the book, I have, Bruce, probably got two thirds of the way through with at this point in time, and I’ve got to tell you, it is well written and really shares some very, very cool examples. So, first I want to say congratulations on writing the book and your launch. It’s an exciting time for you, huh?
BRUCE: Well, thank you, Chuck, and I really couldn’t have done it without you, because–
BRUCE: No, really, because if I didn’t have so many great stories, like the one you told me, the book would’ve been about as long as the pamphlet that Julie Hagerty passes out on an airplane.
BRUCE: Remember that?
CHUCK: [chuckles] Yes, I do.
BRUCE: Those pamphlets she’s passing out about great Jewish sports legends and all of that–[Chuck laughs]
BRUCE: Which I can say, because I’m Jewish, so it’s not anti-Semitic, but no, because of stories like yours and Ann Zuccardy from NSA and Alan Murray, the editor of Fortune Magazine, just so many terrific stories about how character is the key to success in business and in life and how in some cases, the lack of character has hurt businesses and the employees who failed to live up to certain standards. Your story, I mean, as you know, because you probably read it by now, plays a really important point in the book, in the chapter on honesty and how, as you say, every choice has a consequence.
CHUCK: Well, I got to ask you first, the very first part of the book talks about character and the missing link to excellence and, Bruce, I really want to delve into, first, what motivated you to write the book and then, the second part of this first question is, and why character?
BRUCE: It’s two great questions and I’ll tell you. As you know, as a fellow ethics speaker, there are essentially two different approaches to talking about ethics: conduct and character. A lot of what constitutes ethics reflection in our society focuses on puzzles to solve. It’s sort of the Ann Landers Approach to doing ethics, “I have this problem, what should I do? I was standing in line at Starbucks and I overheard two colleagues talking about confidential information. Should I say something or should I not? What should I do?” It’s important to look at these kinds of puzzles, but the moral life is much broader than that.
In my previous book, Ethical Intelligence, I talk about how ethical intelligence means having the courage to be committed to living an ethical life for the long haul. One of the people who read a version of that, a philosophy professor who read that book said, “You know, you’re talking about virtue, Bruce, but you don’t really discuss it in any depth,” and he was right! He was right; I did not talk about virtue at all. After I finished Ethical Intelligence, I spent a whole summer and I wrote a book proposal for a book I was going to call Virtue.
BRUCE: I thought it was terrific! I thought, CEOs and business leaders can look at character and how it’s the missing link to excellence, but my publisher said, after he read the proposal, he said, “I just can’t see a business executive sitting on a plane, reading a book called Virtue.” He wouldn’t even let me redo it. He said, “This is just not a book we want to publish,” and, of course, I was depressed about that, but upon reflection I thought, he’s right. So, I spent another year reworking it [clears throat], and I remembered a long time ago someone said to me, “Bruce, you’re one of the good ones,” and it was one of the nicest things anyone had ever said to me. Now, this was in West Virginia and you’re in South Carolina, is that right?
CHUCK: That’s right. That’s right.
BRUCE: Now, is that a phrase that you hear a lot in the South? You know, “He’s one of the good ones. She’s one of the good ones”?
CHUCK: In all honesty, Bruce, you hear it from time to time, but it really is a high compliment, because, as I walk around, I don’t hear a lot of people saying that about anyone, unfortunately.
BRUCE: [chuckles] Well, I only bring that up because I live in New York City now, but I grew up in San Antonio and spent a lot of time in Florida and West Virginia before that.
BRUCE: But this phrase “the good ones” stuck with me and so, I thought, what if we had a book called The Good Ones that looked at people of high character and how they play a crucial role in the success of a business?
BRUCE: And I came up with 10 qualities that are associated with high character people and spent the last few years interviewing folks from all over the world. I was struggling with the very beginning of this book because it’s such a daunting project.
BRUCE: Where do you even start with something like that? My editor, who rejected my previous proposal, said, “Bruce, think of yourself as the host of one of the greatest cocktail parties the world has ever seen and you’re talking with all these fascinating people and you’re listening to their stories and your role is to collect them and weave them together into a coherent narrative,” and that was the key that unlocked it for me. So, once I had that as the template, if you will, I was able to do focus interviews, like the one I did with you. When did we do that, Chuck? It was at least a year ago, right?
CHUCK: Oh, absolutely. At least a year ago, yes.
BRUCE: I’ve just lost all track of time with this thing. Every story serves a very specific purpose and yours is about how an experience that you had at a firing range brought home, as if you’ve needed it brought home, the fact that, as you say, every choice has a consequence, and in your case, a choice that you made decades ago still has repercussions. I don’t want to give anything away because I would love for your listeners to read your story in this book, but it was a very powerful one.
I also talk about, as you know, the indelible impression you make as a speaker and what I think is one of the best ways to introduce the speech, that I’ve ever seen, and I’d heard that you did what I’m about to say, but I’d never seen it myself until last September, and that’s how you start your talk in an orange jumpsuit in handcuffs. I mean, everybody who sees your talk, nobody will ever forget that.
CHUCK: Well, I wish I could claim credit for the idea–[Bruce laughs]
CHUCK: But I will say, it is somewhat powerful and of course [chuckles] it’s been kind of helped along with “orange is the new black”, as well, so… [chuckles]
BRUCE: Oh, yeah. Yes, that’s true. But then it’s almost like a Houdini trick thing; you get yourself out of the jumpsuit and out of the handcuffs and then talk about how it was that you psychologically made baby steps toward the decision that led to your imprisonments. In fact, you and I have spoken to the same clients, some of them.
BRUCE: I went to speak to the Montana society of CPAs and you had already spoken there and I asked the client, how you were received and she said, “Oh my Gosh, it was fantastic. People are still talking about it months later,” and I thought, I want to be that kind of speaker! I want to be like Chuck Gallagher where people are talking about him months afterwards.
CHUCK: But Bruce, you are–[Bruce laughs]
CHUCK: You’re one of the good ones. Okay? [laughs]
BRUCE: Well, you’re very kind. It really is funny that we’re essentially competitors, you and I, but as Don Vito Corleone, the source of all great ethical wisdom, told his son Michael, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
CHUCK: Oh, you are too funny.
BRUCE: Not that I consider you an enemy–
CHUCK: Oh, right.
BRUCE: But it really is valid. Our fellow ethic speaker, Frank Bucaro, read the book and wrote an endorsement. Before you and I became friends, I thought, why would I want to become friends with a guy who’s essentially competing with me for the same talks, but it’s such a silly way of looking at the competition, and I don’t even think that that trim doesn’t even apply, does it?
CHUCK: No, it really doesn’t. The thing that I recognize, and you have done a masterful job on and I really, really want to encourage people who are listening to the show, we’ve got about three minutes before our first break, but I want to encourage people that are listening to the show to pick up a copy of The Good Ones by Bruce Weinstein and the reason for that is, because you have done a masterful job of weaving together real life stories, not just some fiction that’s made up, but real life stories into the narrative to help people understand the value of being “a good one”.
BRUCE: Well, you’re very kind and I’ll tell you what, as a courtesy to you and to your listeners, I will send an audio book to everyone who writes to me, whether or not you order the book, I don’t want to make it a lottery, but if you write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll send you an audio book.
CHUCK: Oh, now, Bruce, that is an awesome offer and for folks listening, email@example.com, write him, let him know that you’ve heard it on this show and ask for your audio book copy of this.
BRUCE: The Good Ones.
CHUCK: Bruce, we’ve got a minute or two before our first break. You told me about writing the book and kind of what took you there. I’m going to assume this has probably been a multiyear process. Is that correct?
BRUCE: Two years in the writing and a year to just write the proposal and get it accepted.
CHUCK: Wow. So, we don’t have a lot of time before we go to the first break. Did you find it difficult to have people or get people to agree to participate?
BRUCE: What I did was, Chuck, I have about 3200 contacts on LinkedIn and I wrote a personal letter to every single one.
BRUCE: So, that was the difficult part, just the time-consuming part. About, Gosh, several hundred people said that they wanted to do it, and you know what? I don’t know most of these people personally. I haven’t met most of the people I interviewed for the book.
BRUCE: But some of them told me later, they just felt like this might be something fun to do and those people who weren’t really sure, but decided to participate anyway, told some of the best stories.
CHUCK: Oh, that is so awesome to hear. All right, so, we’re going to go to our first break. This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio. My guest is Bruce Weinstein. He has written the brand new book The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities to High-Character Employees, and when we get back from this break, we’re going to talk about characters, character or characters, as the case may be, and if that’s a natural experience or a learned experience. We’ll be back in just a minute. This is Chuck Gallagher. Stick with us.[Commercial break]
CHUCK: The book is entitled The Good Ones. It’s written by Bruce Weinstein. He is The Ethics Guy® and Bruce literally is an international speaker on ethics and integrity. In this particular book, he talks a lot about high-character employees. In fact, he lists 10 crucial qualities of high-character employees.
Bruce, I’ve got ask this question, because, obviously, Gosh, I don’t know, I guess my first major indiscretion was back in 1987, but, obviously, I made a series of choices that ended me up in federal prison. By anybody’s estimation, that would be the antithesis of a high-character employee. So, I’m going to ask this question and actually, your answer doesn’t make a difference, it’s okay.[Bruce laughs]
CHUCK: In other words, what I’m saying to be, it’s okay what you say. You’re not going to offend me. It didn’t really come out right at the very beginning, but do you–
BRUCE: Boy, I’m curious now!
CHUCK: Do you find that people of high character are naturally born that way or is that a developed quality for people?
BRUCE: It’s a wonderful question and what the stories that I’ve collected show over and over, is that character is a trait that can be developed just the way strength can be developed. In fact, Aristotle talks about this in his book The Nicomachean Ethics. Have you ever gone to a gym, Chuck?
CHUCK: Sure! Yeah.
BRUCE: So, have you lifted weights?
CHUCK: [chuckles] Listen, Bruce, I have gone to a gym, I have lifted weights, I have found it to be one of the most boring experiences of my life and so–
BRUCE: Very boring.
CHUCK: Now my flabby self says nah.
BRUCE: Jack LaLanne talked about how much he hated it. Jack LaLanne, one of the greatest physical icons of the last hundred years, hated doing it, but did it. A funny thing happens when you stop exercising after months and months and months of bodybuilding. What happens? You start to lose all that great muscle mass that you’ve developed.
BRUCE: Another thing that comes to mind is why do Coke and Pepsi keep advertising? They keep advertising, because, you think, well, everybody knows about Coke, but if they stopped advertising, people would quickly forget about them.
BRUCE: So, marketing is something that has to be done consistently for it to be done well. Bodybuilding has to be done consistently for it to be done well, and the same thing with character, that we have to keep practicing, being honest, being courageous, being fair, being grateful, because if we stop doing it, it’s easy to lapse into old, bad habits. So, it is something that one can develop, that one can learn, that one can and should practice, and if we stop doing it, we fall back into patterns that, as Oprah might say, “Do not bring out our best selves.”
CHUCK: [chuckles] Bruce, I’m kind of curious, your perspective on this. You and I both have the opportunity to go out into the world and to present at conferences, generally on ethics related topics. Most of the time the clients, a good number of them, will send me a copy of their “Ethics and Compliance Guidelines”, the, “Thou shalt not… of the particular business” or “Thou shalt”–
CHUCK: Whichever. I’m fascinated by the fact that so many people seem to be so focused on the rules, as opposed to being focused on improving or creating character.
BRUCE: Well, that’s a wonderful point and that highlights the difference between these two different approaches to doing ethics that I talked about at the very beginning. Namely, conduct versus character. The rules, or principle-based approach to doing ethics is consistent with the puzzle approach to doing ethics. “What should I do?” And if you look at most of the rules and regulations and codes of ethics and so forth that companies have, they tend to be more of the “Thou shalt not” rule.
BRUCE: “Don’t do this, don’t do that,” and quite frankly, that’s why I think is what ethics is so off putting to so many people, because it’s punitive. “Don’t do this!” It’s like somebody’s shaking their finger. The first thing that comes to mind is Bill Clinton, right? “I did not have sexual relations with that woman. What was her name? Ms. Lewinsky.” Shaking his finger at us. Democrat or republican, whoever you are, whatever you were doing at the time, you thought, here’s the president shaking his finger at you and you’re thinking, I don’t like this. I don’t like how this feels.[Chuck chuckles]
BRUCE: So, this whole approach to doing ethics and specifically in terms of saying, “Don’t do this, don’t do that,” is why you and I have such a difficult job.
CHUCK: Well, that’s true, and I have to say this, Bruce, I believe, and I say this honestly to you, I believe your book is something that can truly bridge the gap and help change the perspective. If you could take people in the HR arena that are, I use this word and maybe it’s unfair, but obsessed with the rules and the guidelines and the formality of the document, and if they spent their time working on what you have included in the content of your book, I can’t help but believe that the rules would be innately followed naturally, without having necessarily to say them all.
BRUCE: Well, that’s right. There’s so many situations where it’s not clear what the rules are or how they apply, but if you make it a habit of being honest, if you make it a habit of keeping your promises the way an accountable person is so inclined, so disposed, if you make it a habit of treating people fairly, then you don’t have to memorize the rules.
BRUCE: You’re already accustomed to reacting in an honest of fair way.
CHUCK: Right. Now, in your book, the first chapter is “Honesty”, the second is “Accountability” and I want to go to the second chapter for just a second, because one of the things that really strikes me is people, it seems, tend to have a significant enough problem with the idea of being accountable. Over your life experience, have you found that has it changed? Are people more apt to want to be accountable or are we in a society where things change so rapidly, if we can avoid accountability and if there’s an app for being able to do that, we tend to follow the app for non-accountability?
BRUCE: Well, as Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility,” and I’m not sure if human nature has changed much over hundreds of years. It’s difficult to be accountable, because what that means is that sometimes we have to admit that we made a mistake and need to take responsibility for those mistakes. I mean, accountability doesn’t apply to succeeding, right? Nobody has any problem claiming responsibility when you did something well, it’s when we don’t do something well, when we miss the mark. Perhaps so many leaders have a difficult time apologizing because it seems like a sign of weakness to say, “I made a mistake. I was wrong. Please accept my apology.” But in fact, that’s a sign of strength. Wouldn’t you agree?
CHUCK: I would. Absolutely.
BRUCE: I think the contribution this chapter makes to the world of business is that, we think of work ethic as being, essentially, a matter of psychology, right? People with a strong work ethic are highly motivated and people with a poor work ethic are lazy. But, in fact, people with a strong work ethic are primarily, above everything else, are highly accountable. They take their promise to their clients and to their businesses seriously. So, really, a strong work ethic, the way I’m presenting it, is an issue of character.
CHUCK: I can see that. Yeah.
BRUCE: And this is absolutely something that can be learned, that can be practiced, that can be taught.
CHUCK: When you look at accountability and you look at courage, I want to raise an interesting question to you. I tend to look at a lot of personal behavior, what motivates a person to take action, why does a person make choice “A” over choice “B” and how does that apply in life. Most of the time, you’ll tend to find that if there is an ethical breach in a company, as opposed to approaching the good side, approaching the bad, there’s an ethical breach, more times than not, that’s discovered because someone is willing to call attention to it.
BRUCE: Yes. Right.
CHUCK: Here’s the challenge, Bruce. It also is true, the person that calls attention to it I’m going to label a whistleblower. Now, being a snitch, telling on somebody, being a whistleblower, all has negative connotations, yet, that is the no.1 way accountability is actually maintained within organizations, is someone saying, “Wait a minute, there’s something wrong here.” Yet, if you have the courage to do that, by nature there tends to be negative consequences to the whistleblower.
BRUCE: I would like to challenge the statement that you just made because I think it buys into the idea that ethics is primarily about punishing wrongdoers–
BRUCE: That you and I really want to get away from and that is, the way to promote accountability is, yes, of course, having whistleblowers in place when something goes wrong, but what if we expanded our notion of what accountability really is and said, “Maybe the way to make sure that people take their jobs seriously is to hire accountable people in the first place”? You’re in South Carolina now. I remember several years ago, I was giving a talk at a pharmaceutical company in North Carolina, where, of course, many of them are in the research triangle.
BRUCE: The CEO and I were having lunch and he asked me about, he said, “Look, I’m an ethical person, I take ethics seriously. How can I ensure that this is an ethical culture?” I didn’t have to think more than a second to respond and my response– In fact, I think actually, that’s the genesis of this book, I responded by saying, “You have to begin at the interview.”
BRUCE: “That’s where it all starts,” and so, what I’ve been doing over the last three years is designing questions that interviewers can ask, to increase the likelihood that the people they hire do take accountability seriously, are honest people, have been courageous, have sit up to bullies or corrupt vendors, are grateful and humble people. And conversely, if you’re looking for a job, a great way to put yourself ahead of the pack, is to emphasize how honest your honesty and your gratefulness and your fairness, your commitment to being courageous has delivered results for the places where you’ve worked before. So, it’s by talking about character, in the interview, that the process begins. Not once you’re in the company already.
CHUCK: Right. You know, I think that’s fascinating and, Bruce, one of the things I noticed, just as the book began, is what you just said, focusing on the concept of making sure the people you hire are of high character to begin with.
CHUCK: This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio. My guest is Bruce Weinstein. He is the author of The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees and I strongly urge you to get the book. In fact, I would encourage you, especially if you are in the HR segment of the business or you’re in the hiring segment of the business, to pick up a copy of the that because the questions that are included in the book really make for some interesting interview questions. We’re going to be back after this short break and we’ll talk about more of those 10 crucial qualities and perhaps hear a few stories from Bruce.[Commercial break]
CHUCK: So, here’s a question, are you honest? You have courage? Are you fair? Are you grateful? Are you loyal? I’m asking a series of questions using certain words that are the crucial content to a brand new book entitled The Good Ones by Bruce Weinstein, Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees, and I have to say this is an outstanding book.
Bruce was kind enough to interview me and include a short story in the book and I am appreciative of having the opportunity to be a part of it, but, Bruce, you had so many stories in the book and so many wonderful interviews and have woven them together well. Anyone that is looking to hire great, high-character employees should pick up a copy of this book. This is the inaugural week for it, so there’s not a better time than to pick up a copy right now.
Bruce, in the very first chapter you talk about honesty and if you would, share a little bit about the story that makes that work.
BRUCE: There’s a woman named Brenda Harry who, until recently, was a minimum-wage-job clothes processer at Goodwill Store and Donation Center in Pearisburg, Virginia. Now, Pearisburg has a population of 2,786 people. She had worked in a furniture factory in town for decades until the factory closed and found a job processing clothes at Goodwill. Last January, she was going through a jacket that had been dropped off and she found $3,100 dollars in cash.
BRUCE: In the coat pocket. And what do you think she did with it?
CHUCK: Well, I’ve read the chapter so–[Bruce laughs]
CHUCK: That’s not a fair question for me, so I’ll let you go ahead and share it. [chuckles]
BRUCE: Had you not read it, what would have guessed? [chuckles]
CHUCK: You know, that’s a great question. Had I not read it, there really would be two options; one is, you stick it in your pocket, shut your mouth and be done with it; or the other, which I honestly believe most people would do, is turn it in to the manager and let’s see if we can find the person who turned the coat in.
BRUCE: It’s really hard to know how most people would react, because people who would in fact keep it probably would not disclose that fact.
CHUCK: Absolutely. You’re right. They would never disclose it.
BRUCE: And also, I did mention she’s a minimum-wage worker–
BRUCE: So this is more than two months of her take-home pay.
CHUCK: Right. Absolutely.
BRUCE: I learned about this when I was interviewing the Head of Compliance at the Goodwill branch of stores in Virginia and Deb Saunders just mentioned this off handedly and I said, “Wait a minute. This woman turned the money in? I have to find out… I’d like to talk with her and ask her why.” So, I interviewed her and she said, “It’s very simple. It didn’t belong to me.”
BRUCE: And I said, “Well, help me to understand though how were you raised? Where did this come from?” and she said, “Well, my parents told me that if you’re an honest person, you’ll be rewarded on Judgment Day and if you’re dishonest, you will pay for it on Judgment Day.” So, I said, “Well, you must be a religious person then,” and she said, “No. Not really,” and I said, “I mean, do you go to church? Do you attend the House of Worship?” “No. This is just how I was raised.”
And in fact, when she was a young woman, something similar happened when she was at a drive-in and a sailor or someone in the military was using a phone booth out in the parking lot at a drive-in and he left and Brenda noticed that he left his wallet that had all of his papers that were necessary for him to leave the country, to go off to war. And so, Brenda brought the wallet home and her mom said, “You have to turn this in,” and they did and got a lovely “thank you” note. In fact, I think the soldier’s mother sent $10 as a “thank you” present. But the point is that Brenda was raised to do this. It was part of her nature, it was part of her character. She was taught that this was an important thing to do and that was just her reaction when it happened when she was in her early sixties. This is just something you do. You turn it in. I just find this such a touching story because it doesn’t really matter how technically competent you are, how much you know about marketing or sales or PR–
BRUCE: If you’re fundamentally dishonest, why would anyone want to hire you?
BRUCE: Chuck, it’s just so strange to me, when you look at job descriptions in any area, sales, marketing, PR, whatever it happens to be, the ad almost inevitably focuses, like a fetish, on knowledge and skill: what you need to know and what you need to do. But job descriptions rarely, if ever, talk about character.
BRUCE: And yet, as we see, smart companies seek out people like Debra Harry and they hire people like her.
CHUCK: Bruce, I got a question for you.
BRUCE: Lay it on me.
CHUCK: Some of these are little off the wall, but here you had an interview with this lady and she said, “Well, you know, that’s how I was raised. That’s what my parents taught me,” and I know that while both of us speak to associations and corporations around the country, we also speak to students, young people today. Have you seen, in your travels and in your speaking, have you seen a difference in the way youth are taught today as compared to the way this lady was taught so many years ago?
BRUCE: Yes, and I’ll tell you exactly how and it’s actually a story I tell in the book. I interview high-school students for my college. Several years ago, I was interviewing someone who was clearly very bright, very gifted, really smart, went to one of the best schools in New York City, and I asked him off handedly, “Have you ever cheated?” Oh, I think I mentioned that I’d just written a book for teens called Is It Still Cheating If I Don’t Get Caught.
CHUCK: Right. Huge title. I like that.
BRUCE: He said, “Yeah, my friends and I cheat,” and I said, “Excuse me?” and he said, “Oh, yeah. I mean, you need to, to get by. I mean, if you want to get into a good school, everybody cheats.” I admired his honesty for telling me that, but I also said to the school, “You should not admit this guy because he may be really smart and he’s obviously very talented in various fields, subjects, but, I mean, he had straight A’s, but he’s a cheater!”
BRUCE: “And he admitted it and not only does he admit it, he doesn’t have a problem with it!”
BRUCE: I mean, it’s one thing– Look, I will be the first to admit, I think I actually talk about this in the book too, but I’m ashamed of it, so I’m not sure, I like to block that out, but I tried to cheat once in high school.[Chuck chuckles]
BRUCE: And it still is so upsetting to me, because I was cheating off of a friend of mine and the look that he gave me, the look of betrayal that he gave me when he saw that I was trying to copy from his paper, I mean– This happened, Gosh, what was this? Nineteen seventy-eight and I still am haunted by that look on his face, his face of “How dare you? I’m your friend. Why would you do this to me?”
BRUCE: So, my point is that, look, we’ve all done things that we’re ashamed of and, this is the focal point of your talks in your book, but with this young fellow that I was interviewing, he wasn’t bothered by it!
BRUCE: That, to me, is the trouble, and I’m not saying that he represents all young people today, but that was just surprising to me that somebody so smart and in such a good school was so cavalier about it. That was new to me.
CHUCK: Yeah, Bruce. I asked you the question, had no idea what your answer would be. I’m not surprised by the answer. I have to admit, I look at the idea of high-character employees and I look at the concepts that, the 10 crucial qualities that you have, and I agree with those qualities. I just have this, and I use the word “fear” and that may not be the right word, but it’s the one that comes to me, that today that’s not something that’s taught. To the lady that found the $3,100 and turned it in, that’s what she was taught.
BRUCE: Um-hm. Um-hm.
CHUCK: I was speaking to a group of young people, college group, and I said, “How many are on Facebook?” and of course, everybody raised their hand. “How many are on LinkedIn?” Substantially smaller number. “How many on Snapchat?”and most everyone raised their hand and I said, curious, “Tell me, you know, I’m an old guy.” I kind of rubbed my gray hair, I said, “Tell me, what’s the value of being on Snapchat?” and they said, “Oh, well, you know, whatever you put on there, it disappears in 10 seconds.” I said, “Basically, what you’re saying is, is you want to be able to put something on that you don’t want someone to see and you know it’s supposedly going to go away, so, therefore, it makes it okay to do something that you wouldn’t otherwise want people to see?” “Yeah, yeah. That’s the whole concept!” I’m like, so, we’ve got an app that promotes less than high character.
BRUCE: Well, of course the folly of all that is that it’s possible to do a screen capture of those images or that use somebody else’s phone or take a picture of it.
BRUCE: So, this idea that I am even capable of sending something that will disappear into the ether is a false one.
CHUCK: Right. Absolutely.
BRUCE: It doesn’t happen.
BRUCE: So, we really have to act as though every email, every text, every photo that we post or send is something that can be discovered because it all is discoverable.
CHUCK: Right. It’s interesting, in your book, as you’re talking about high-character employees, one of the comments that I made to this group, I said, “Well, let me ask you a quick question. Do you think that it is ethical for me to look at you Facebook page to make a hiring decision?” And a good number of the students in this group said, “No! We don’t think that’s ethical at all.” I kind of laughed and I said, “Well, I’m not the person that’s going to say it is or isn’t ethical, I’m going to tell you it will happen.”
CHUCK: “I am going to look at or any employer is going to look at your Facebook page and if you’ve got your drunken pictures, whenever you were at whatever it happened to be, plastered all over it and I’m hiring you for a, let’s say it’s a financial services job since that’s the background that I come from, and I need you to be competent and confidential, I’m probably not going to make the choice, because when you’re inebriated, you’re likely going to lose your competence and your confidence, at least in terms of my business.”
BRUCE: And what does it say about your judgment that you’re willing to put a picture like that online and also mention on your About page or your Bio page where you work?
CHUCK: Right. Yeah, absolutely. It’s interesting. The name of the book is The Good Ones. It is an outstanding read. When we get back–
BRUCE: You’re very kind, Chuck.
CHUCK: Oh, it’s true. When we get back, we’re going to talk about some of the questions that might be asked, as we wrap things up. This is the coming-out phase, so to speak, of this brand new book, The Good Ones by Bruce Weinstein. This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio. Bruce is my guest. I am delighted to have him. He is The Ethics Guy® and has made an incredible offer that if you send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org, he will send you an audio version of his book.
BRUCE: Oh, wait. I should just say, it’s not an audio version of this book.
BRUCE: It’s a full-length audio seminar of my previous book Ethical Intelligence.
CHUCK: Okay. Sorry.
BRUCE: Just to clarify.
CHUCK: Okay. Very good. Ethical Intelligence. Bruce, thank you so much. Now, stick with us. We’re going to be right back. We’ll get into some questions and delve deeper into The Good Ones. This is Chuck Gallagher.[Commercial break]
CHUCK: My guest today is Bruce Weinstein. He is The Ethics Guy®, love the title, and he has written a brand new book called The Good Ones: Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees”. I have downloaded the book, I’m probably two thirds of the way through it at this point in time. It is a masterfully written book and a great book if you are in the process of expanding, growing or hiring and we all, at some point in time, are involved in the hiring process and probably the crucial thing that takes place is making the right decision about the right person.[Bruce chuckles]
CHUCK: Now, Bruce, that is, of course, a lot of what this book is about. Talk to me, if you will, about some of those things that came out of your interviews that created some really interesting and cool questions that you feel make the interview process of finding those high-character employees possible.
BRUCE: Well, one of the people I had the privilege to interview is a fellow named Bill Treasurer, who wrote a book called Courage Goes to Work and he was on the US high diving team so he knows a lot about fear and overcoming fear. So, he suggested that I put the following question at the end of the book for interviewers to consider, “Tell me about a time when a direct report pushed back on you and felt strongly about a position. What was the situation? What did they say and how did you react?” So, here you’re called upon to talk about the degree to which you are open to criticism and it’s the mark of a strong leader to not only tolerate criticism, but to welcome it because that’s how we get better to encourage people to say, “Wait a minute, I really disagree with this and here are my reasons why.” If we ignore constructive criticism like that, we’re going forward blindly and are liable to make mistakes. So, it takes a courageous person, it takes a person of high character to say to a direct report, “Tell me how you really feel about this and if you really don’t like it, I want to know.”
BRUCE: So, I thought that was an interesting way of turning around the question that is also worth asking of a job applicant, namely, “Describe a time when you had to disagree with someone, an authority, and stand your ground. What was the situation? How did the other person react? What did you do?” People have no problem really talking about when they had to stand up to authority because we all have a good David and Goliath story when we’re the David, right?
BRUCE: We were standing up to a bully or standing up to someone with more power than us because it makes us look great. But when we have more power to say that we welcomed criticism, we welcomed somebody saying, “I don’t agree with you,” that takes a really strong person.
CHUCK: Right. It’s interesting, today in the interview world, if you go to monster.com or Career Builder or a whole host of places that are on the Internet, it’s kind of fascinating because they will give you the top interview questions to prepare for. Bruce, what I found thus far, in reading through the book, and I haven’t gotten to that place, but what I have found thus far is some of these questions aren’t going to be the types of questions that you’re going to find on Monster or Career Builder to prepare you for the interview. Which is great, actually.
BRUCE: You just gave me a great idea, Chuck, because we have to make sure that Monster and, what was the other, Career Builder that you mentioned?
CHUCK: Career Builder. Um-hm.
BRUCE: That they include these kinds of questions.
BRUCE: And in fact, I’m now giving a talk called “How to absolutely positively ace your job interview” and it’s directed to people who are looking for jobs, but encouraging them to talk about their own high character and how their honesty and courage has delivered results for the places where they’ve worked, in addition to talking about how knowledgeable and skilled they are, but to bring this to the table as well – their character.
CHUCK: Right. It’s interesting, Bruce, you and I come from different worlds and it’s fascinating because both of us speak to very similar groups. You were horrified by the look on your friend’s face when you considered the possibility of cheating. I on the other hand, obviously, cheated, maybe more than that, we’ll call it, such that it ended me up in federal prison. I have found, over time, that in a job interview the best thing that I can do is be very open very quickly, about what my past is.
CHUCK: Because in reality, if the interviewer has a legal or predisposition to hiring someone who is a convicted felon, I would rather not waste their time and I would rather them know. I will be honest about what my past is and give them then the opportunity to decide whether they want to consider that or not. I get calls all the time from folks who have similar pasts saying, “What do I do and how do I put my life back together?” and thus far, the best answer I can give them is, “Be very transparent about what has taken place because if someone cannot trust you, they can’t trust your honesty, then we’ll never, ultimately, have a long-term hiring relationship or employment relationship, and if you hide your past, eventually the past will come out and then people will, for sure, not trust you.”
BRUCE: Well, I thought it was a sign of your own high character quite frankly that at the end of your talk you said, “I want you to feel free to ask me any question. Whatever you want to ask me, I’m happy to answer. There’s no question that’s off limits.” I thought, Gosh, I’ve never heard anybody who’s been in prison open themselves to that, so I’m wondering, what’s the most common question you’re asked in the Q&A’s that you do?
CHUCK: The funny part about that, that’s an interesting question, you’re interviewing me, but the question that I typically get in the Q&A’s always deals with family. Most of the time, “What happened with your children? What happened with your wife?” Those are the common questions. Rarely, from time to time, people want to know about, “Well, what was the prison experience like?” or, “Talk to us more about the crime,” or so forth, but most of the time it’s, “I want to know about the humanity of the experience.”
CHUCK: If you do something wrong, and I say this in my talk and you’ve heard this, “You may have made a mistake, you are not a mistake.”
CHUCK: It’s kind of like saying, another way of putting it is, “You could’ve screwed up, but that doesn’t make you a screw-up.”
CHUCK: And I think there is such a moral value to looking at who we are as human beings, far beyond the stupidity of choices that, from time to time, we might make.
BRUCE: So, you’ve never been asked a question that you felt like will not, really, I can’t really go there?
CHUCK: No. I’ve learned one thing, Bruce, in my experience, and that is the more transparent you are, the easier it is to function in life. My no.1 client, outside of speaking, I’m chief operating officer of a company in Greenville, South Carolina, and my no.1 client will not hire me as an employee because I’m a convicted felon. They do a hundred-million-dollars-worth of business with our company, but they won’t hire me as an employee. Well, I don’t need them to hire me, I need them to understand that I bring value to their organization. The fact that there may be some limitations is just a continued consequence and reminder of the importance of being high character.
BRUCE: And this is why, in fact, that I list honesty as the first of the 10 qualities. The other nine are in alphabetical order, but honesty is number one because without honesty, it doesn’t matter how courageous or grateful or humble you are. If you’re fundamentally dishonest, no smart company would want to hire you or will keep you on for long once they discover that.
CHUCK: Yeah. And that’s interesting. I appreciate you just telling me that. I’m sitting here, looking at the book The Good Ones. My guest is Bruce Weinstein and you said the first one is honesty, the rest are in alphabetical order, and I was getting ready to ask you the question. So, are these in the order of importance? And you just answered it, “No. They’re just in alphabetical order.”
BRUCE: Yes. I wanted to come up, in fact, maybe if one of your listeners can help me come up with some kind of cool acronym that will, form a sentence or a word that can encapsulate all of these 10. I couldn’t come up with one. Every good boy deserves favor or the–
BRUCE: The notes in the treble scale. I couldn’t think of that, so, I just list them. In fact, it’s kind of hard for me to reel them off of the top of my head, so, I have the 10 posted right in front of me, so that I don’t forget myself, even if I know I spent the last few years writing about them, but they’re not intuitively obvious, I think, other than honesty.
CHUCK: Right. Bruce–
BRUCE: You wouldn’t think of gratitude.
CHUCK: No, you wouldn’t, but yet, gratitude is so critically important in the long-term experience of being a human being. Our jobs are part of who we are, it isn’t the totality of who we are. So, if we can bring who we are to our employment or the opportunity that we have, to create value in life, I think that makes it incredible.
Bruce, I have to tell you we have run out of time and I really hate that, but I want to encourage the people who are listening, the book is titled The Good Ones. It’s got a great cover. The author is Bruce Weinstein, Ten Crucial Qualities of High-Character Employees. If you’re in business, I’m going to call this one a must-read because we all have the opportunity to interview people. I think we would all agree, if we can surround ourselves with high-character employees, we know that our business is destined for success.
Bruce, thank you for taking the time to write the book and thank you for taking the time to be on the show.
BRUCE: Oh, and thank you, Chuck, for sitting for an hour and being interviewed all those months ago. Here we are talking about the book in which your story appears. Amazing.
CHUCK: Well, I really do appreciate it and, again, I would encourage folks, go to amazon.com, look for The Good Ones, pick up your copy today. I promise you, it is well written and a great read. Bruce, thanks for being on the show, and as I close every show with the statement, every choice we make in life has a consequence. Consider the choices you make wisely. This is Chuck Gallagher with Straight Talk Radio.
BRUCE: Amen, brother.
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