Where am I going? On ethics.

Today, I listened to the long-time Partner and CEO of TPG Capital, Jim Coulter.

He spoke with us about his ethical framework. While I can’t discuss the deeper details, what I can say is that he has fully formed his ethical framework.

And it got me thinking - what is my ethical framework really?

Here are a few things that I believe.

1) There’s always tomorrow. Act like it. When I left Ministry of Supply, I could’ve pushed harder. I could’ve been a jerk about it. But I was reading the book Finite and Infinite Games and I realized that this was not a finite game. It was something more. My business partnership and my friendship with my co-founder was more important than near-term gains. Paradoxically, I think that when people think short-term they don’t gain as much in the long-run. (Harvard liquidating 25% of their private equity at the bottom of the crisis) Being selfless is also selfish. Weird, but true.

2) Don’t be an asshole. For me, it means not giving into emotions when things get tough and don’t go our way. It’s more than just fairness - it’s the way you treat others. The content may be what it is. We all know that X or Y happened and that you have to give that feedback, but there’s never a good reason to shove someone in the dirt.

3) Be able to sleep at night in the coming years. I hate bad dreams. I have bad dreams when I don’t feel right about how I behaved. We’re not perfect, but in the short-term, we feel tempted to make a play that feels good at the time, but sucks in the long-term. For me, how I left the startup was like this. Laying off a good friend of mine was like this. How do you play the game?

I’ll try to think of more specific stories as time goes on, but I felt compelled to write this more as a note to myself than anything. The list could extend to other personal elements. If I had to say three things to remember to do:

1) Give.

2) Random Acts of Kindness.

3) Know someone’s story.

Stories for the three above will come soon. They should be continual. Life is a process. It’s not one single event, day, week, month, or year. It’s a continual series of infinitely complex and interconnected events. Our role is to engage with the complexity in a way that keeps us not only playing in a way that’s good and fair, but that gets after it. In a way that really engages and plays. That flies the plane, lands it, and takes off again.

More soon….


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