Peak Your Profits: Money and morality

Jeff Blackman

Ethical abuses in business — such as gifts, bribes and payoffs are unfortunate. Yet all too often, commonplace. In the book “Ethics in Business,” Robert Bartels talks about “lubrication money” that’s used to grease the palms of decision-makers in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

In Italy, businesspeople have been known to pass the bustarella or envelope stuffed with money to “motivate” a company to get the job done. By contrast, the mordida or “the bite” is commonplace in Mexico to assure that a government inspector doesn’t do his job. And in North America, we euphemistically refer to “bag men,” “gift-givers,” “fat envelopes” and “money under the table.”


Ethical decisions aren’t easy to make. No one person can impose his or her ethical decision-making and value system upon another. Robert Bartels or Jeff Blackman can’t convince, cajole or command you to do that which you refuse to do. Our background, beliefs and perceptions are likely to be different. But, every decision you make reveals not only your past-self and current-self, but, as Robert Bartels says, “It also molds, for better or worse, your future self!”

One of my clients has taught his salespeople and other employees to ask themselves this question, “Would you be willing to explain your decision or action on network television?” How’s that for a gut-check test?!


John Dewey, an American philosopher and educator, developed a strategy for ethical decision-making that he called reflective morality. Dewey felt that upon reflection, thought and deliberation, a decision-maker could creatively imagine, rehearse and evaluate several courses of action before reaching a conclusion.

Adapting Dewey’s framework, here are six steps to help businesspeople, entrepreneurs, managers and salespeople clarify responsibilities, eliminate misunderstandings and conduct their business with the highest possible professional standards.
To help your ethical decision-making process, you should evaluate six steps:

  1. Identify the topic or issue that’s causing your ethical dilemma.
  2. List all of your possible choices.
  3. List the possible consequences of each choice.
  4.  List the people affected by your choices.
  5. Trade places. Put yourself in an empathetic position to understand how those just listed in step four are affected by your choices. Bury your ego. Minimize your needs. Instead, maximize, for example, your customers’ or clients’ needs. How do your choices affect their lives, their interests and their futures?
  6. Make a decision. Then, take action! For without action, the dilemma not only lingers, it magnifies.

These steps should offer you a framework for future success.
Ethical considerations should always play a major role in your performance, productivity and profitability as a business professional and peak profiteer. Products may be new and improved or obsolete. Services may be outdated or trendy. But your reputation lives forever. If you don’t believe it’s sacred, no one else will!

So what’s the best course of action for you? That’s your decision. It’s your future. But perhaps the best place to start is by asking yourself a simple question: “Am I willing to lie, cheat or steal, bend the truth, manipulate the facts or pass the envelope?” And if so, am I willing to explain my decision or action on the network news?”

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The preceding is an excerpt from the new 5th edition of Jeff’s bestselling book, “Peak Your Profits.” It’s scheduled for a summer release and will be available on Amazon and at your favorite bookstore.

Jeff Blackman is a Hall of Fame speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. His clients call him a "business-growth specialist." If you hire speakers, please contact Jeff at 847-998-0688 or And visit to learn more about his other business-growth tools and to subscribe to Jeff's free e-letter, “The Results Report.” Jeff's books include “Stop Whining! Start Selling!,” (an Amazon Bestseller) and the soon-to-be released 5th edition, of the bestselling “Peak Your Profits.” You can also stay connected with Jeff via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter: @BlackmanResults.