The Measure of a Man (or Woman) Is Impressive. Until It’s Not.


Not too long ago, I attended a networking luncheon where the speaker talked about the successes and challenges of taking over her family’s business and growing it into a multi-state enterprise with 500+ employees. She was candid when she revealed her three greatest challenges: lack of confidence—a foible not uncommon in women; lack of practical business experience—though she was a college graduate, she was young; and lack of industry experience.

Her story was impressive.

Until it wasn’t.

As she recounted, early on she spent a lot of time at professional conferences and industry trade shows learning everything she could. She developed relationships with people who became her mentors. She had a following of influential people who, by her own account, genuinely wanted her to succeed. Indeed, she admitted she probably would not have achieved her current level of success without the support of these individuals.

She expressed gratitude to those who helped her.

And then it turned ugly.

She said, “But business is war. These are my competitors. And if one of my competitors is drowning, I’m going to stick a hose in their mouth and turn on the water.” She paused for dramatic effect.

I was shocked.