Archive for Integrity

A Lesson in Integrity

DoingtheThingsthatMatterEach month, we receive a short newsletter with our Phoenix city services bill. I usually breeze through it before putting it in the recycle bin. Most of the time, the information in it doesn’t concern me.

This time, though, the city included a great story featuring an employee who went above and beyond the “call of duty.”

In one of the terminals at Sky Harbor Airport, an employee by the name of Robert Rodriguez was sweeping the floor when he happened to notice five one-hundred dollar bills underneath his feet. Without hesitating, Mr. Rodriguez picked up the cash and notified his supervisor, who then notified the airport police. They reviewed the security camera footage in that specific area, and identified the traveler who lost the money.

Fortunately, the traveler was still in the terminal, and the police were able to locate him and return the money. It turns out that the traveler was a student who was on his way overseas to study abroad, and the money was to be used for food during the trip. Before the flight departed, the traveler was able to meet Mr. Rodriguez and thank him for his honesty.

Integrity is the Cornerstone of Leadership

Mr. Rodriguez could have just picked up that money and said, “Finders keepers, losers weepers!” Do you remember learning that phrase when you were young? He could have shoved the money into his pocket and went on with his work, his mind racing with thoughts about what to spend it on. I’m sure he could have thought of a million things to use that money for. Instead, he did the right thing. What a great example of integrity!

In our society, we are bombarded by sensationalistic stories of people who lack integrity. All you have to do is turn the TV on and find a popular “reality” show, or look at some of the headlines of those magazines at the grocery store checkout aisle. Our society seems to reward that type of behavior with overwhelming publicity.

Our younger generation is exposed even more to these stories through non-stop feeds on social media. Wouldn’t it be nice to see more stories like Mr. Rodriguez’s pop up in their media feed, rather than a story about some “reality” star changing her hair color twice in one week; or a sports “hero” that assaulted their girlfriend/spouse during a drunken or drug fuelled rage?

It would be nice, however, not necessarily realistic. The sad fact is, until our society changes what it values, we are probably going to be stuck with these types of stories for quite a while.

What steps can we take as leaders and parents to combat the negative influences from society?

  • Be Involved. I know…this sounds like a “no brainer.” Being involved is more than just asking how their day went and then going to your separate corners in the house. Actually engage in conversation. It may take a little work, especially if your family is not used to it…but it can be done. If they have issues that come up in the conversation, offer your input and examples from your experience…in a supportive way. They may get that constant social media feed all day, however, you are there in flesh and bone in front of their face. Take advantage of that personal influence!
  • Establish a “social media break” or “media fast” during part of each day. Create a time where everyone in the house (including you!) puts down the phone, and turns the electronics off. Use the time to engage with each other. Maybe have “game time,” family meditation, or make it a time for the family to decompress from the day’s events. If the weather is nice outside, maybe take a hike or play a sport as a family.
  • Surround children with positive and encouraging influences. Find quotes and stories to send them throughout the day. There are several “Quote of the Day” websites that you can subscribe to and forward to them. Find out what they respond best to – do they like power quotes, encouragement, faith, or affirmations? John Maxwell has a daily email with a Leadership Word of the Day. I highly recommend it. It can really make a difference in their day!

You can probably think of several other ideas to add to this list. Whatever you do, keep it consistent. If we are to make a positive influence with our younger generation and create a brighter future for our society, we need to consistently work at it. Be the example of integrity that Ralph Rodriguez displays in front of the young people in your life. The effect you have may last for generations to come.


Respect Thine Audience – No Matter the Size!

Whether they number 5, 50, or 5000 – Give Your Audience the Show (and Respect) They Deserve!Respect Thine Audience!

I recently read a couple of articles about a Google executive who walked out of a conference 30 minutes before he was scheduled to speak.

The reason – there were only about fifty people in attendance to hear his speech. His excuse for walking out…he doesn’t speak to small groups.

If you would like to read a couple of full versions of the story, click on these links:

As I read these articles, I could feel a sense of outrage welling up. In my opinion, what this speaker did was show a total lack of respect or concern for his audience and the conference organizers. The behavior that this individual displayed (storming out of the conference hall) was extremely unprofessional and egotistical.

No matter how many people are in your audience, remember that they are taking valuable time out of their lives to hear you speak. I view speaking engagements as transactions. As a speaker, you are there to give them the “gift” of your information or entertainment in exchange for the time they are giving you. To deny your part of the transaction, especially for what I would consider petty reasons, shows a lack of respect and integrity.

No matter the size of the audience…whether it is five thousand, five hundred, or five…if we agree to show up and speak (sign contracts, shake hands, or whatever is used for agreement), we should stick to our word and deliver our message. If there are any discrepancies, they should be covered in your contract, or you should take them up with the host.

Don’t punish the audience!

There is something else to consider before doing something like walking out on your audience…the power and speed of social media. Before you set one foot outside the conference hall, news of your abandonment can already be in the public eye. A quick tweet or Facebook post could be making its way out into the world. Can you afford the bad publicity? I would imagine the answer is “NO!” Imagine how much work it would take to turn that negativity around. Some people never make a comeback from that kind of negative press!

If you are ever faced with a smaller than expected audience:

  • Remember that the people that are attending have fulfilled their part of the transaction by showing up to hear you speak. Have the integrity to fulfill your part!
  • You can ask the audience to move in a little closer to your speaking area to create a more intimate setting. If they seem hesitant to move, offer them a “reward” for moving closer (i.e. small token, product, or even chocolate – which works for me!)
  • If you are able, make your presentation a little more “conversational” with your audience – maybe avoid using your PowerPoint, or allow opportunities for questions or conversation with audience members. This can make the experience a little more memorable to them, because of the added value.
  • Last, reframe the situation. This, and every opportunity you have to speak is another chance to gain “face time” with the public, as well as a chance to practice and improve your material in front of a live audience.

There is always a chance that sometime in your speaking adventures, you will encounter a crowd that is smaller than expected. Remember…honor and respect your audience by holding up your end of the bargain. Look at it as an opportunity to gain experience that will help you improve and become an even better presenter in the future!


For more information on how to improve your presentations, and for some interesting stories and insights on public speaking, get a copy of Scott Berkun’s book, Confessions of a Public Speaker. (As a matter of fact, a couple of the suggestions were inspired by his book!) Just click on the picture below to order the book now!