Want To Get Filthy Rich? Be A Socialist.

Geoff Smith Portrait

BY Geoff Smith


This may seem like some two bit piece of goody goody cheeseball Grade 5 idealism. It’s not, it’s about success and money.

And it’s certainly not about the much yakked about ‘Win Win’ approach. Accountability is key. The person who is at fault should lose (though only to the extent that they are at fault).

And I’m definitely not pontificating about where I am or EllisDon is, and you should all try and be like us. My 360 degree performance reviews identify an overly competitive personality with a side order of ‘Attacker’. (Apparently I have much work to do.)

All that said, here’s what’s wrong with capitalism. In a conflict or disagreement, it’s competitive, me against you. I assemble all my arguments, ignore or hide facts that may help you, dismiss your logic, pound it out as aggressively as possible, win as much as I can, and move on. Deception is acceptable. That’s the way we’re supposed to behave in negotiations, resource allocations, salary reviews, anything that involves a conflict of interests or ideas. It’s what we’ve been taught.

It’s wrong. Ayn Rand was wrong. Milton Friedman was wrong. Here’s why: If you establish a reputation for complete openness and complete honesty and complete fairness; if your mantra is “Let’s look at every fact, and then do what’s entirely fair” -even when it hurts your own outcome, your reputation and success will soar. If you recognize that it is a terrifically strong negotiating tactic to say “You must be treated absolutely fairly, but I must be treated fairly as well”, you will rarely lose out in any dealing.

Clients will want to hire you, people will want to work with, suppliers will give you better prices, because everyone will know that if they hang with you, they will succeed and make money and look good. It’s about trust. Trust is very hard earned, it requires openness and pain.

But trust is key. Not cleverness, aggressiveness, slyness, ego, or anything else. If you deliver trust, then profound career success and corresponding compensation will be delivered right back to your doorstep. It’s the most important thing I’ve ever learned.

As long as you don’t mind being a damned socialist.