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Monday, May 12, 2014

Business Bullies

Long ago in a land far away (where I spent many years of my life) there lived a man and his wife who were an enterprising couple. They had come to this particular community after selling their successful travel agency in southern California. They had not wanted to sell.

You see, “Jake” and his bride received a visit from someone claiming to be with a “Behemoth Media Group.”  This company was expanding into the travel business and thought Jake’s location was ideal. So they wanted it. Jake resisted. The Behemoth’s raised the ante a bit. Jake still resisted. The Behemoth essentially said, “Sell…or we will open our brand across the street from you. Undercut your prices. And force you out.”

With that kind of “special incentive,” Jake and family decided it was time to get out. And they did. And they made a nice profit. And they were, well, disgusted with such tactics. As we all should be.

I thought about their story recently when my son passed along an article from Vanity Fair magazine describing the somewhat unbelievable tactics of another behemoth, Samsung. The article is lengthy, but well worth reading.

The shortcut version of this article is the claim (supported by significant documentation) that Samsung enjoys stealing ideas and profiting immensely from others’ hard work. Since I have no firsthand knowledge of their practices, I am reacting to what others have researched and claimed to experience. It’s very troubling.

Unlike many, I am generally a supporter of large companies. Many are run well and provide us products and services that improve our lives. But the most intolerable of all is the “business bully.” Rather than work ethically and with healthy motives toward fair competition, the bullies work hard to put others OUT of business through a variety of tactics. In their ideal world mindset, the best competition…is NO competition.

Bullies like to use intimidation. Jake and his wife experienced this. Business bullies relish using legal departments to create needless lawsuits that consume energy, waste resources, take heavy emotional tolls and, eventually, may drive the “enemy” out of the marketplace. Behemoth bullies find it necessary to erase a key word from their vocabulary: integrity.

A basic dictionary definition for “integrity” says that it is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. Synonyms include honor, decency, virtue, fairness, scrupulousness, and trustworthiness. Business bullies probably don’t like those words either.

Like many of the bits of wisdom from Proverbs that are often ignored these days, we find this gem in Proverbs 28:18: “Whoever walks in integrity will be delivered, but he who is crooked in his ways will suddenly fall.” And Proverbs 2:21 states, “For the upright will inhabit the land, and those with integrity will remain in it.”

My wife and I may never buy another product from Samsung after reading the Vanity Fair article. But hey…maybe they’ll change their ways. Hope so. It fits with another word often out of vogue today: Repent!

For business bullies…it might be the next big thing.

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