Posts Tagged ethics

A business ethos that transcends industry

Posted by on Wednesday, 5 February, 2014


I was recently listening to a podcast via Bet On You in which my friend Ted Pappas was interviewed about  Big Bottom Whiskey and what inspired him to start the business. In this 45 minute conversation (it’s an interview but has a deep conversational tone that Ted cultivates well), he discusses a lot of the early trials and difficulties in the path and choices for the business. But, while I believe early failures are good and critical to success, what I believe is even more important is the latter part of the conversation when he begins discussing more of the ethos and philosophy behind the respect, camaraderie, and cooperative efforts which Big Bottom Whiskey is leading in the industry. Which gives me an opportunity to talk about it from my own perspective not only as a tenant to Big Bottom Whiskey with my own company Tualatin Valley Distilling, but to also expand the ideas beyond just the alcohol industries.

Ted’s ethos is about mutual benefit, respect, and helping others succeed in their passions. It is a direct result of this attitude that Tualatin Valley Distilling is a possibility and as a result of this shared vision, we also strive to help as best we can. As an alternating proprietorship, our visions are aligned and keep us focused on what matters: making great products that we all believe in; working together towards common goals.

It was while listening to Ted in the interview above that I realized our shared ideals, philosophies, and vision wasn’t specific to just the whiskies world. Rather, I started thinking of some big “what-ifs”: What if social business wasn’t seen as a zero-sum game. What if we all worked cooperatively, with a shared ethos of respect and camaraderie as social business professionals, while seeing competition as positive drivers for improvement rather than negatives to be conquered or fought.

What does this look like to a social business professional?
First and foremost it means seeing social business as something other than a marketing tool. Social business is in itself an ethos as well as a tool.
Secondly, the guiding principle of being a social business means engaging in conversations and listening to your audience more than talking  AT  them. It is conversing WITH your audience and building relationships using the tools of social platforms like twitter, google plus, tumblr, Facebook, and others. It is more about relationship management than marketing, working with your clients more than selling to them. It’s about building that community and collective intelligence to move us all forward in our collective and individual goals.

This spirit of cooperation and mutual benefit is alive and well in the Oregon spirits industry, one in which the Oregon Distiller’s Guild is helping to drive the recognition of Oregon products to the benefit of all. It is this same focus, this same attitude which can help redefine what social business does and how we do it.  Ted has proven that the ethos within his business model works (as he touches upon in the podcast about listening to his consumer base), and I am hopeful that my own work in social business can help exemplify how collaborative knowledge sharing can also drive success in both my day job as a global social business strategist as well as a small business co-owner creating products for our local market.

Until that day when my own success stands as self-explanatory, I will continue to drive the open and transparent, collaborative, inclusive, and humanist ethos within all of my work; whether it is in strategy or production. I also hope you’ll jump on board and also adopt a strong collaborative ethos as well… after all, I can’t collaborate alone now can I?


image credit:  Some rights reserved by Gauravonomics

Do influencers deserve to be paid?

Posted by on Wednesday, 17 July, 2013

IMG_0562Today’s blog post came about from a post which my friend Chris Lavender pointed out to me via twitter earlier today. In that article the author, Danny Brown, lays out his argument for why influencers should get paid for a brand’s use of their influence. He goes on to detail how a brand can ensure they are getting their money’s worth by using a tool/service called InNetwork to filter your audience to the core, right influencers for the brand’s goals.

The meta-headache I get from talking about blogging as an influencer and getting paid for it while hocking a brand’s tool/service notwithstanding, I actually agree with Danny Brown: influencers who actively promote your product by your request should indeed be compensated for their time and effort for all the reasons he lists. But, do influencers working on their own ‘deserve’ to be compensated or rewarded? No. Full stop. Would it be nice to reward an influencer for posting something about your product or service? Absolutely, but they don’t deserve to be compensated for something you’d not requested.

I’ve been lucky enough to have taken the easy route on this topic, though. Neither this blog nor the blog have ever been approached to publish any promoted post of any sort, so the ethical question about hocking for someone else has never been directly tested. The closest I’ve come is to receiving a Klout perk after which I wrote and published this post, and I also a flask from Angel’s Envy Bourbon as a thank you for a review I published long prior in that same year. A nice gesture to be sure, but nothing I “deserved”.

Now, call it paid or rewarded, I wouldn’t mind seeing influencers reap some benefit from their effort…. but I don’t believe they can do so without consequence. Any influential blogger or internet star runs the very likely risk of being seen as a shill and losing the trust of their audience if they were to take compensation in exchange for a promoted post or other marketing focused mention. As Danny notes in his article, trust is far more difficult to regain once lost, and is that loss worth the gains you’ll see from a simple promoted post? I doubt it.

So, go ahead and find those influencers, even go as far as to filter down to the right ones for your brand and see if any of them have been blogging about you. If you find them and you like what they’ve been saying, go ahead and send them a thank you of some sort, but don’t expect them to immediately turn around and begin shilling for you because you rewarded their prior efforts and compensating for future efforts is not something to be taken lightly.

The ethical treatment of data

Posted by on Wednesday, 11 July, 2012

Subtitle: When shared public records are no longer lost to time.

With great freedom comes great responsibility. – Eleanor Roosevelt 

A published author and long-time friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to the following article noting that, as a writer, she was elated to have access to such a great resource for research and to help reveal a plotline she is presently working on:

Are Police Records Available to the Public Online?

From the article:

“Police files are retained indefinitely as they are loaded onto electronic databases and can be accessed by a person even if they date back to the 1800’s. The best way to find old police files is through online sources; that will give you comprehensive and accurate details. Once a person has been convicted of a criminal offense; this will remain on the person records until it is cleared. These records have invaluable information concerning a person and can be used as a source when doing a background check.” Article Source:

In one perspective, this is an absolutely fantastic resource, for writers or anyone needing information relating to police records. But, all nefarious purposes aside, I can also see how this same data could become problematic, even if used with only the best of intentions or needs. In the original Facebook post I commented: “Imagine as a photographer, I am improperly arrested for photographing a protest (a common occurrence these days, many examples exist of this). Even though I am well within my rights and have done nothing wrong, I may now have a long-lasting record which was outside of my control or any wrong doing. That information could now adversely affect my ability to be hired given the commonality of companies using Google to research applicants.”

From my perspective, as someone who works in social business and sees article after article depicting the perils of over-sharing, I can see the long-lasting memory of the internet causing problems when data like this is not treated ethically. Long before the internet, this information was at best obfuscated from general public visibility via physical access to the records, and even though it is public information, the general populace would not be likely to see it, even when doing background checks. Now, with the ease of access brought to us via the internet, we no longer need direct physical access to the records to find the information. While this provides for much better transparency, it also provides for interesting dilemmas surrounding how the data is maintained.

Gone are the days of easily forgotten youthful indiscretions, escalated misunderstandings, or wrongs eventually righted and then easily moved past. Thanks to archival sites, even if a record is expunged, that information can still be found and intentionally or unintentionally misused. At the very best it can taint perception with the fruit of knowledge not intended to have remained public. Unlike inappropriate Facebook posts that have caused detriment to individuals’ continued employment, these public records are outside of our direct control and can cause damage to wholly innocent parties as in my all-too-common photographer example(s) above.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you likely know that I take very deep and personal ownership over my words, as well as any damages which they may inflict or for which I am culpable. I own everything I post and accept the ramifications of my words or actions. What, however, can we do when confronted with misinformation or items that have remained long past their relevancy outside of our own control? Reaction is, by definition, after the fact; typically long after the damage has been done. What previously may have been a simple youthful mistake lost to the winds of time can now haunt you until your dying day.

As we move forward into this new world of ready access to information both historic and present, the freedom of such access demands great personal responsibility in how we both consume and reshare it out. The world has changed, my friends; no longer can we ignore the complexities of life for the ease of assumption. It is up to each one of us to become more critical thinkers in our daily lives and consciously look to all sides of a given situation before judging others or ourselves. Each of us now own the responsibility to handle information in a more mature, intelligent way; understanding the potential ramifications and our own culpability if we do not.

Beyond our own personal ownership of action and words, we must also strive to ensure that our information is also treated ethically and with respect when it is in the hands of corporations and governments. This means doing all we can to protect not only ourselves, but others when sharing online in the form of social networking, or granting unfettered access to public information in searchable databases. As citizens of the corporate world and citizens of the global internet, it is our great responsibility to protect the great freedom which we have built and entrusted to ourselves.

In the particular police files example above, this may mean potentially restricting search engine access to the data, protecting the details behind vetted access permissions. It means ethical content curation is even more essential now than ever.

The ramifications of this information being hosted online can be widespread and must be ethically dealt with to ensure the long-term effects of short-term data are properly mitigated or wholly avoided.


image credit: (cc) Some rights reserved by Vectorportal