Do You Follow The "Rule of Gold" or "The Golden Rule"...? Put another way, are you a hoarder or a sharer?
I have found that business people, well actually all people, fall into one of two groups. Are You A Hoarder?
Those who feel, mostly on an instinctual level, that the universe is fixed and disconnected, i.e., it has a definite size, and all its component parts are independent of each other. Conversely, those who feel it is interconnected and infinitely expanding.
Those who feel that the universe is limited and disconnected think of wealth that is something that is limited and disconnected and thus must be hoarded. Those who feel the opposite, and feel that the universe is unlimited and interconnected think of wealth as something that can be expanded indefinitely, and thus shared.
In our personal lives, these subconscious feelings determine the way we treat family members, friends, strangers, and even enemies. In our business lives, they dictate how we treat employees, colleagues, competitors, and customers.
Seeing the universe as limited, hoarders develop notions that are based on scarcity. Since there is a limited amount of wealth, hoarders believe that the right way to act is the way that gives the individual the greatest amount of personal wealth.
That means competing with others to acquire wealth, and then, hoarding it. Hoarders are willing to share their wealth, but generally in proportion to the likelihood that they can get something of equal value in return. A hoarder’s idea about how to treat people is built on concentric circles around them. They believe in treating those closest to them better than those further away. Thus, immediate family and close friends are treated better than distant relatives and strangers.
In business, hoarders believe in treating key employees very well, because key employees give so much back, and treat other employees not as well. Some hoarders not only consider their customers to be very far away from them but also see their customers as competing with them for their profits. Thus, they are inclined to make their products as cheaply as possible. The bigger the profit margin the better they like it.
Are You A Hoarder?
Sharers have a completely different way of looking at the universe. They feel that the universe is infinitely expanding. Thus, they feel that wealth too can be expanded infinitely. Sharers believe the right way to act is to give as much as they can, as generously to a stranger as they would to a close friend or family member.
Sharers follow a principle that is so universal both to secular ethical codes and to religious doctrine, that it has come to be known as the “Golden Rule” – “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.”
In business, a sharers code of conduct is very similar. Treat your customers as you like to be treated when you are a customer.
Hoarders Don't Understand The "Win-Win" Concept
However, hoarders believe that in every business transaction, there is a winner and a loser. The winner is the person who gets more than their fair share of the deal, the loser is a sucker. Therefore, hoarders have a different code of conduct when it comes to customers. It’s called “The Rule of Gold” – “The less I give to customers the more I will have left for myself”.
Again, they see wealth as limited, so they can not conceive of getting more by giving their customers more. They look at it the opposite way. If they can cut their costs by one cent, that’s one cent more that ends up on their bottom line.
Hoarders in my opinion are wrong about the world in general. And not just wrong, but stupid.
In the 30 years that I’ve been in business, I’ve worked with people on both sides of the divide.
It saddens me to say that I’ve encountered more business people that follow the Rule of Gold than the Golden Rule. Worse, I have followed it myself. It was a foolish, self-destructive, and degrading experience and it cost me a lot of money. I know that now. I know I can make more money easily by following the Golden Rule. By treating colleagues, employees, vendors, and customers as I like to be treated as a colleague, employee vendor, or customer.
I know that if I give more, I’ll get more, and if I share more, more will be shared with me.
Hoarders think that they don’t need to give or share because they are geniuses at “getting”. They know how to transfer wealth from others to themselves by persuading others to do business with them. They think they don’t have to worry about giving or sharing because they think there are other suckers out there to take from.
When it comes to product quality, hoarders provide as little as they possibly can. Their idea of good business is to promise customers everything but to give them as little as possible. Hoarders don’t realize that they are building their business on a base of quicksand. Although they may be able to turn a deaf ear to their customers’ complaints, customers are talking among themselves, and what they are saying about the hoarder’s cheap products and service isn’t flattering.
Are You A Hoarder? What About Family Members, and Friends?
It is easy to spot business people who follow the Rule of Gold. They are often very good at selling, but very weak at customer service.
Their products are made as cheaply as they possibly can be. They don’t honor their refunds, or they just barely honor them. And they pride themselves on creating profits by cutting costs.
If you could hear these entrepreneurs talking privately about their customers you would think, I’m glad I’m not buying from them.
They see customers as either suckers or enemies. When they make speeches, even public speeches they speak about business as if it were a battlefield.
Business should not be like a war. Remember, most of your profits will come from back-end sales. This means that the easiest way to grow your company is to develop good long-term relationships with your customers and produce really good products for them.
About the Author
James Spurway is an Angel Investor, Advisor, Mentor, Speaker, former Commercial Pilot, and Author specializing in raising debt and equity funds for pre-seed or early-stage seed rounds for Startups in the Fintech, DeepTech, AgTech, ClimateTech, and AgeTech verticles. He lives in Singapore and has spent the past 30 years living and building businesses in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Germany, Switzerland, Monaco, the USA, Thailand, the Philippines, and Australia, where he was born.