Don’t Sell Your Soul in the Name of Security

According to legend, a full moon makes people do things they might not ordinarily do. Werewolf movies are based on this, and some studies have found that a full moon actually does increase aggression and crime.

A similar phenomenon has arisen in the business world, where a prolonged, intensely competitive climate has some people behaving like crazed werewolves.

Revelations about corporate abuse has become a daily occurrence. Disturbing stories about employees of companies like Enron, WorldCom and Adelphia losing jobs and retirement funds have become commonplace. Oddly enough, the perpetrators are often the same people who founded the company.

How could greed, immorality and the desire “to look good at all costs” affect these people so profoundly? Many of these same people were well-liked, philanthropic, God-loving individuals. They certainly did not seem like candidates to stab someone in the heart. Yet, metaphorically speaking, that’s precisely what they have been doing to thousands of loyal employees.

Unfortunately, whether it’s corporate executives, accountants or any other position where the abuse of power and high-level corruption is possible, no industry is immune to the defective character of certain people … including ours.

In the past, I’ve written about the unscrupulous installation and sales practices of dealers who will do or say anything to make a sale. While the majority of us represent ourselves to customers honestly and realistically, there exists a minority that promises things beyond the capabilities of the system or service. The latter reflects poorly on our entire industry.

It is understood that competition is fierce, but we must resist the temptation to lower our standards and compromise our integrity to boost the almighty bottom line. I am deeply troubled by some of the unethical practices I have recently observed.

For example, while walking the aisles of ISC East in Orlando, Fla., several manufacturers alerted me that one of our competitors has proclaimed, in writing, that Security Sales & Integration is the industry’s “least credible and least read” magazine! The statement was based on a “blind survey” developed and sanctioned by that competing publication.

It’s par for the course to take advantage of a competitor’s weaknesses. But creating bogus, self-aggrandizing statistics—where the process of drafting questions and responses is carefully orchestrated to generate a predetermined outcome—and touting those fraudulent results as facts is downright libelous, pure and simple. If there is one thing SSI stands for, it is credibility!

The unfortunate thing is that people new to the electronic security industry, people who truly need help and guidance, will be misguided by such defective information. Predatory, unconscionable tactics like these have become a bad thread in the fabric of our industry.

Are these people bad? I don’t think so. I believe the preceding examples depict people who have simply lost their bearings about who they are and what they represent. They need a wake-up call to become cognizant that their behavior is unacceptable and a disservice to their industry.

I realize people are not perfect; we all make mistakes. But there is a world of difference between willful deceit and simply making an ill-conceived business decision. Take a moment to ponder your own business practices. Do you feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror at the end of the day?

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