Ethical Blind spots – Excellent Information from Ann Tenbrunsel – University of Notre Dame

July 13, 2011

As part of my daily quest to expose the “why’s” of ethical failures, I came across this video and found the explanation and presentation quite helpful.  Many times as a business ethics speaker, I have people want to focus on more than the “How” the failure happened, but more importantly “Why” it happened.  Ms. Tenbrunsel (perhaps Dr. Tenbrunsel) shares practical ways that – as she puts it – ethical blind spots prevent us from clearly seeing the truth of a given situation.

From personal experience, I can identify with how facts and circumstances combine to create those “ethical blind spots” and allow for the rationalization of unethical behavior.

What do you think of Tenbrunsel’s comments?

Here’s an excellent article that features more information:


Buusiness Ethics and Fraud Prevention Speaker Chuck Gallagher addresses FBI Conference

July 11, 2011

CHOICES: Negative Consequences – Positive Results

Chuck Gallagher Shares the Impact of Choices

at a Time when Ethical Choices seem to be missing from Business Culture

 CHARLOTTE, NC.  July 7, 2011.  From Prison to Promise, Chuck Gallagher’s presentation:  CHOICES: Negative Consequences – Positive Results –  exposes the power of choice and the negative consequences or positive results that can follow.   Selected to present to the 2011 FBI CPA Conference in Denver, Colorado, this annual FBI conference generally focuses on economic and other white-collar crimes.  Recognizing the importance of ethics and their practical application, Gallagher, as a speaker, is a natural fit for this national conference as he shares from experience how a life can change and the course of history can be altered by one unethical choice. In today’s environment, with so many lives turned “topsy turvy,” CHOICES  – provides a meaningful and practical framework for understanding how an otherwise ethical person can make unethical and potentially illegal choices.  CHOICES –  exposes the impact of unethical choices and the power that ethical choices can have.  As a business ethics and fraud prevention speaker, Gallagher’s presentations provides a foundation for business ethics training that goes beyond case studies and focuses on real life issues.

Chuck Gallagher, author of the new book Second Chances, has lived through it and he has come out a better man, husband, and father.  As a nationally recognized CPA, Gallagher lost it all when he made unethical choices by creating a Ponzi scheme and defrauding his clients and it all began with one bad decision.  He chronicles his fall from a wonderful life of success into the inside of a prison cell and how he managed to take the steps to rebuild his life to one full of meaning, purpose, and promise.

Shortly before his sixth month in prison, Gallagher asked himself, “Where from here?” This ultimately becomes his personal call to action upon which this book is premised. Gallagher states, “You may make a mistake, but YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE.” So what’s next? What do you do next? How will you put one foot in front of the other to manifest the power over the choices you make now and in the future?

Gallagher’s presentations offer nuts and bolts information relevant to anyone from Main St. to Wall St. It packs hard-hitting, no-nonsense tools that the audience member can actually manifest into the power of ‘choice intelligence’. Through his transparent heart felt presentations, Gallagher says to the his audience, “Take what I’ve learned and apply it in your life and you will transform your destiny.  Explore every God-given opportunity and, in the process, you’ll develop a higher level of consciousness through better choices and a higher purpose. Honor your life, make wise choices, you will make a difference in your own life, the lives of others, and in society.”

Today, Gallagher is COO of a national company and speaks internationally on business ethics – choices and consequences. Chuck openly and candidly shares the lessons his roller coaster ride in life has taught him.  Described as “creative..,” “insightful…,” “captivating…,” and a person that “connects the dots” between behavior, choices, and success, Chuck Gallagher provides his clients, readers, and audiences with what they need to turn concepts into actions and actions into results

Chuck’s presentations drive home the very real issues involved in businesses today.  One unethical errant choice and the media fallout can have an immediate impact on business results.  For information about Gallagher’s ethics presentation contact Chuck at ,call him at 828.244.1400 or visit his website:

John Wiley Price – Innocent till proven Guilty or a Crook whose been nabbed by the FBI? Is there a Sprint to Judgment by the Media?

July 4, 2011

So far no one has been accused of any crimes!  You couldn’t tell it however from the media hype which most certainly will have racial overtones in this Dallas story.  So…some may ask why deal with it here – is this an ethics issue?  Good question and yes, but not perhaps for the reasons you might think.  The question I have relate to the ethics of sensationalism when no one has been accused of anything…at least not yet.

Not one to shy away from controversy…John Wiley Price will take on a fight and tell it like he sees it.  Example…in the following video Price says, “All of you are white; go to hell.”  Guess there’s a bit of a discriminatory feeling on his part.

But Mr. Price’s ethnic inclinations and hateful words are not what is driving the media today.  According to a report by Brett Shipp, “…at least six federal agents made their way inside the Millenium 2000 Gallery, where they stayed most of the day searching for records, taking photographs and looking for evidence of a crime.”  Shipp’s entire report can be seen here.

His report goes on to say:

Over the past four years, Price has used his campaign funds to purchase $46,000 in gifts and services from Manning.

Among the gifts was a $2,150 Kwanzaa gift for indicted former Constable Jaime Cortes, a $1,200 gift for mega-church pastor Ricky Rush and $2,525 in gifts for an unnamed constituents.

Among the services were campaign vehicle repairs, one of which was for $300 and another for $700 and $1,800 for vehicle wrap art.

The FBI won’t say exactly what they are looking for in Manning’s store and there is no indication that such gifts were improper.


With all that said and no charges filed…what’s all the fuss about?  I mean from my vantage point it seems much ado about nothing.  But, the buzz of FBI officers looking is enough to create attention…just ask Patrick Williams the author of another story on Mr. Price.

Entitled: John Wiley Price: Give the Devil His Due – Williams states:

Expect a lot of quote-trolling, thumbsucking and rumor-mongering in the weeks ahead, as hungry reporters scramble for crumbs of hard information. Nature abhors vacuums, and the 24-hour blogosphere hates them too. And since FBI agents aren’t the chattiest bunch—the local field office has a Tumblr called “We’re Not Saying Shit”—it’s going to be speculation city for a while. Did Price’s collection of questionably attained vintage cars stir the feds? Was it KwanzaaFest, Price’s charity event? What about the inland port, that transport hub Price attempted to jack? WFAA reported that Price has bought a lot of real estate lately. Ah-ha! What sort of person buys cheap real estate in a down market?

QUESTION:  Is there a Sprint to Judgment by the media in this case much like the in the Strauss-Kahn case or is there truly a smoking gun behind the actions of the FBI?


Is Business Acumen an Ethical Issue? Jack Howe’s – Drum Beat News asks the question! Comments by Business Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

June 13, 2011

Regularly I receive the Drum Beat News from Jack Howe and this week’s email report caught my attention.  I believe in servant leadership.  Quoted from the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership:

The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?

As I read that quote, it is striking that we would not likely find the number of ethical challenge that seem to be bubbling to the surface today if we had more of an attitude of Servant Leadership pervasive in our business operations today.  That said, Jack Howe brought that back to the surface with his comments below:

Is Business Acumen an Ethical Issue?

This week was transformational for me. I was able to spend three full days renewing my spirit and my intellect. For less than a legion of others, this week will have passed as unremarkable. The reason for my joy? The 21st Annual Greenleaf Foundation Convention, was held here in Dallas, Texas. But lest we forget that our mission in this section is business acumen and that our definition of business acumen is to understand in advance, how our decisions will impact all the stakeholders of our enterprise.

Who or what is the Greenleaf Foundation? Robert Greenleaf was a student of leadership and training who spent his career working in corporate America. In his seminal work The Servant as Leader he wrote:

The failure (or refusal) of a leader to foresee may be viewed as an ethical failure; because a serious ethical compromise today (when the usual judgment on ethical inadequacy is made) is sometimes the result of a failure to make the effort at an earlier date to foresee today’s events and take the right actions when there was freedom for initiative to act. The action which society labels ‘unethical’ in the present moment is often really one of no choice. By this standard, a lot of guilty people are walking around with an air of innocence that they would not have if society were able always to pin a label ‘unethical’ on the failure to foresee and the conscious failure to act constructively when there was freedom to act. How would your business acumen be judged if reviewed under this set of criteria?

It is easy to judge looking backward!  Ethics in application today are based on facts today.  Yet, there are actions that are taken today that are, in my opinion, unethical while being quite legal.  Let me share a simple example.  If a drug company manufactured and sold a drug to the public, and then bought put options betting on the drugs failure… that would likely represent an ethical issue.  Failure to tell the buyer of the drug that the pharma company expected it to fail and their stock to drop would be unconscionable.  Yet, that is exactly what happened at the beginning of the recession.  Wall street on one hand sold subprime loans to unsuspecting buyers with AAA ratings while at the same time effectively bet on their failure.

So…those leaders who had the presence of mind to foresee the lack of value of the securities being sold were, in my opinion, unethically acting as they tried to protect their companies from the risks associated with the sale of worthless paper.

Is Business Acumen an Ethical Issue?  WHAT DO YOU THINK?

For information on Drum Beat Productions click here.

Fidelity National Title Insurance Company – When a presentation hits the Mark – Comments by Chuck Gallagher Business Ethics Speaker

June 3, 2011

For most of us in the speaking profession, we diligently work to make sure that what we share makes a difference.  While there is no criticism in being called a Motivational Speaker – the fact is – as a Business Ethics speaker – I want to make a lasting difference when I share with an audience.  Far more important to me for someone to walk away with something of value, than to get a standing ovation for a performance that folks will forget two weeks later.

Each presentation begins with the words – “Every choice has a consequence!”  If there is a take away – remembering that simple phrase can make the difference in folks making ethical choices that are empowering or finding the consequences of their unethical choices painful.

Recently I had the opportunity to speak to Fidelity National Title Insurance Company in Florida.  The crowd was responsive, yet I find that often my pointed presentation hits buttons for some creating emotional reactions.  Yet others (fortunately typically 98%) get the message.

Just a few days ago I receive an email from the meeting planner stating the following:  “I thought you would really like this Chuck.  Confirmation that your presentation really hit the mark.  Thanks again.”  Attached was a link to a recent blog post…a portion is reproduced below and the full link is here.

The Man in Handcuffs

Submitted by Stephen Collins on Mon, 05/23/2011 – 8:18am

How interesting do you think a title insurance conference is?  As good as this blog—hardly!  But Fidelity National Title Insurance Company does have a reputation for production, and I’m not just talking number of policies sold.  They put on a conference in a fair atmosphere, but when they talk ethics, they’re all business—need and opportunity do NOT justify stealing.

Fidelity National is an underwriter for Land Title of America, and we’re used to their non-conventional presentation of material.  If it’s a really boring subject, they’ll make it like a game show with Ozzy Osbourn and Minnie Pearl—you’re not going to forget the information!  For their talk on business ethics, the speaker wore an orange jumpsuit and his hands were cuffed behind him.  We thought he was another one of their gimmick speakers.  He was not.

True…a gimmick speaker I am not!  There is nothing funny about making unethical choices, losing everything (other than the love of my two sons) and spending time in federal prison.  Yet, that experience, as gnarly as it was – turned out to be one of the best things that could ever happen to me.  The consequences that followed my seriously poor unethical choices have provided a powerful framework today for sharing with others about the power of choices and ethical behavior.  Beyond theory, I share from the heart in a way that people can relate to – my message is one of choices, consequences and hope.  We are more than our mistakes and often we can avoid those mistakes if we connect the dots between choices and consequences.

Stephen Collins posts ends – “He had committed fraud and he faced up to it.  He lost his family and he served time for what he did, wearing an orange jumpsuit like that every day.  The difference now is that he holds the key to his handcuffs, and he’s come a long way through a lot of trials to say Don’t commit fraud.  When you have need and opportunity, don’t justify it to do something you know is wrong.”

Thanks to the folks at Fidelity National Title Insurance Company, it was my honor to be a part of their commitment to ethics and ethics training.

Business Ethics Training – What’s up in Cuyahoga County and Why aren’t more Municipalities taking a proactive Ethics approach?

May 29, 2011

Recently I was asked to speak at the Florida Association of Counties 2011 Annual meeting – my presentations will be on Ethics.  In the conversation leading up to the decision to engage me, it was interesting as I was told about numerous ethical issues that face elected officials and those staff employed by the various local governments.  All too often the focus on ethics is about WHAT to do and HOW to do it.  My presentation brings a different look at Ethics.  For me, to have an effective ETHICS program one must look beyond the “What” to the “WHY.”

When organizations can identify WHY otherwise ethical people make unethical decisions or do unethical things, then – and in my opinion – only then can you have a program that creates a true ethical culture.

I mention the above cause today I received notice that Cuyahoga County offers first ethics training for businesses which is a step in the right direction.  The article that appeared is as follows:

The training comes in the wake of a more than two-year federal corruption investigation, which has charged more than 50 people and exposed a culture of pay-to-play that extended from county offices to suburban school boards.

County Auditor Frank Russo has been sentenced to nearly 22 years in prison for his crimes, while Commissioner Jimmy Dimora has pleaded not guilty to charges and faces trial in January.

The county’s new ethics code is much stricter than one that used to govern the former commissioners’ offices. The policy forbids hiring of relatives, requires county officials and employees to disclose potential conflicts of interest and requires staff members and those doing business with the county to sign ethics statements. Contractors and lobbyists must register with the inspector general, and they may not give anything of value to employees or make campaign contributions.

Dettelbach, meanwhile, founded the Northeast Ohio Business Ethics Coalition in October. About 75 local companies have already joined, signing a pledge to reject corruption and unethical businesses practices.

“We continue to transform our region into a place where shakedowns are met not with silence and acquiescence, but with outrage and resistance,” Dettelbach said in the release. “Just as we do drug prevention by talking to kids in school, we are working with the business community and our public institutions to try to stop bribes and kickbacks before they occur.”

The training will take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Cleveland Public Library, Louis Stokes Wing Auditorium. To register, visit the county web site and click on “Contract vendor ethics training registration.”

My hat is off to them and I suspect as more issues of corruption surface (and they will surface)… this type of proactive approach is something that is a clear step in the right direction.  My hope is that the training will not center solely on what is ETHICAL and what is not, but rather why people who know the difference between right and wrong – ethical and unethical – make unethical choices.  If we take the time to indentify the WHY we stand a much better chance of avoiding the WHAT that often leads to prison!


Developing Your Company’s Ethics Policy – A Guest Blog by John Freeborn

December 22, 2010

From time to time I come across articles or blogs that I feel would be a good fit or addition to my business ethics blog.  As a business ethics speaker, I know all to well the importance in developing a sound ethics policy and John’s comments below (presented with his approval) establish a sound outline for the beginning of that process.

There are definite advantages to owning your own business when you want to establish an ethics policy. You see, ethics come from the top. Without setting an example at the top, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to convince your employees that they, too, should be ethical in their business dealings. A well-defined ethics policy, along with an outline of related standards of conduct, provides the framework for ethical and moral behavior within your company.

What are the benefits to developing such a policy, you may be wondering. The benefits include higher employee morale and commitment, which in most cases leads to higher profits. However, higher profits should not be the motivating factor in defining your ethics policy.

An ethics policy should look at the bigger picture of how we relate to society as a whole and what our responsibility is to the greater good. Of course, in these days of downsizing and increasing change, some may argue that these ideals are unrealistic. However, it is important to note that most of the opponents of good ethics are focusing on short-term versus long-term results. Many organizations which have participated in the downsizing mania are beginning to realize that they have traded long-term employee morale and productivity for short-term profit margins.

The bottom line is “what goes around, comes around.” If you treat your employees with disrespect and distrust, chances are they will do the same toward you.

When you are developing your ethics policy, you must decide what it is you want your company to stand for, put it in writing, and enforce it. According to industry experts you can base your policy on five fundamental principles:

  • Purpose. A purpose combines both your vision as well as the values you would like to see upheld in your business. It comes from the top and outlines specifically what is considered acceptable as well as unacceptable in terms of conduct in your business.
  • Pride. Pride builds dignity and self-respect. If employees are proud of where they work and what they are doing, they are much more apt to act in an ethical manner.
  • Patience. Since you must focus on long-term versus short-term results, you must develop a certain degree of patience. Without it, you will become too frustrated and will be more tempted to choose unethical alternatives.
  • Persistence. Persistence means standing by your word. It means being committed. If you are not committed to the ethics you have outlined, then they become worthless. Stand by your word.
  • Perspective. In a world where there is never enough time to do everything we need and want to, it is often difficult to maintain perspective. However, stopping and reflecting on where your business is headed, why you are headed that way, and how you are going to get there allows you to make the best decisions both in the short-term as well as the long-term.

A company policy is a reflection of the values deemed important to the business. As you develop your ethics policy, focus on what you would like the world to be like, not on what others tell you it is.

Learn to Supercharge Your Business by creating value with your business ethics.   Contact Information for John Freeborn: