“Winners Never Cheat” by Jon M. Huntsman

Winners Never Cheat

In 1982, he founded Huntsman Chemical, a multi-billion dollar company. He walked away from a business deal because he refused to pay kickbacks to government officials. In 1986, he closed a $54 million business deal with a handshake – and stuck to it. In 2003, he brought his company back from the verge of bankruptcy to a position stronger than ever. In 2004 he helped build the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Hospital in Salt Lake City, one of the largest cancer research centers and hospitals in the world. He has given away over $1 billion of his own money.

Jon M. Huntsman is a self-made billionaire who proves that you can stick with your principles and still make a profit. In his book “Winners Never Cheat: Even in Difficult Times” (2011), he reminds us that we should hold fast to our ethics, even in the darkest times. “Circumstances may change but your values shouldn’t” (page 1), he declares.

With earnest writing, common-sense suggestions, and inspiring anecdotes, Huntsman delivers 12 chapters that are more like short pep-talks. He reminds us that everything we need to succeed in today’s marketplace we learned as kids. Be fair. Don’t cheat. Play hard but decently. Share and share alike. Tell the truth. Keep your word.

Huntsman reminds of five honest business practices:

1. Negotiate fairly and honestly. Never misrepresent or take unfair advantage of someone.

2. Don’t compromise your values by agreeing to bribes or pay-offs.

3. Strong leaders surround themselves with the best people available and take responsibility for the outcome – good, bad, or ugly.

4. Reprove faults in a way that keeps intact your employees’ self-confidence and commitment to do better.

5. Show your employees respect and acknowledge their accomplishments. Insist that their families come first.

Huntsman also offers four simple suggestions to restore value-based behavior:

1. When you engage in something that affects others, first ask yourself: Is this right? Would I like to be treated this way?

2. Take your values to work. Don’t disconnect them when you sit down at your desk. There should not be a conflict between making a profit and adhering to traditional principles of decency and fairness.

3. Consider yourself your brothers’ and sisters’ keeper and set the example for ethical behavior.

4. Make the underpinnings of your life a story of f-words (phonetically, at least): family, faith, fortitude, fairness, fidelity, friendship, and philanthropy.

“Nobody is completely self-made,” Huntsman reminds us. We owe are success to all the people who have helped us. And sometimes the most satisfying moments in life are when we can help others in return.

How do you apply your personal values to your work? Which companies and leaders inspire you with their principles?

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