John Stancavage: Be true to your brand and your code of ethics
BY JOHN STANCAVAGE World Business Editor
Sunday, March 25, 2012
3/25/12 at 3:49 AM
There is no shortage of firms and consultants around to make sure a business has the right brand image and list of core values.
Such matters are popular among the top companies today, but one local entrepreneur contends the need for a strong brand and a solid code of ethics has always existed.
In fact, the business owner says he learned his important lessons in those categories 50 years ago from a hard-working relative who delivered ice for a living.
Tulsan Clifton Taulbert is a successful businessman and a well-known author. He is president of the Freemount Corp. and wrote the best-seller, "Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored," which was made into a movie.
Taulbert says the principles he relied on to build his companies and shared in his published stories came from an unassuming uncle named Cleve Morman. Taulbert grew up in the Mississippi Delta during segregation. Tending cotton fields was the common profession, but one day a young Taulbert got the opportunity to go to work for Morman.
In those days, refrigerators used chunks of ice that were delivered to a customer's house. Taulbert's Uncle Cleve ran such a business.
Cleve proved to be a demanding boss. You couldn't be late. The hours were long and the work was hard. Some of the customers were disagreeable.
But despite all those challenges, Taulbert clung to the job. The youngster knew he was getting more than a paycheck; he was earning an education in entrepreneurship.
"I watched Uncle Cleve," Taulbert remembered in a recent speech to the Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium.
"He walked differently. He talked differently. He respected his customers, whether they showed him the same respect or not. His reputation preceded him."
Morman taught Taulbert that if a customer trusts you, he or she would want to continue to buy your goods or services.
By observing Morman and helping deliver his ice, the youngster said he learned many other things. Some of them included:
Taulbert said he kept those words in mind during the struggle to get his first book out.
- Embrace opportunity.
- Be a man of action, but act thoughtfully.
- Search for knowledge.
- Don't turn a blind eye to the truth.
- Choose your business associates wisely.
- Be persistent.
- Brand yourself by what you do.
"It took me 24 years to get it published," Taulbert said.
Today, the author's latest book, "Who Owns the Ice House?" has garnered strong reviews and is the basis for an entrepreneurship program put together by Taulbert.
Start-up businesses are hot, Taulbert said. Young people are watching movies such as "The Social Network," which is about the creation of Facebook, and are becoming inspired to try their own ventures.
Taulbert warns them, however, that many business leaders will eventually face a situation that would allow them "to make some money they shouldn't really make."
Looking the other way may be tempting, but Taulbert said to do so is to give up your personal brand and code of ethics.
"Do what is right," Taulbert said. "If you are totally driven by money, it's easy to get off the path."
Uncle Cleve couldn't have said it better.
Original Print Headline: Being true to your brand, ethical code