Business Ethics – Overrated Or Underrated?

Ethical behavior, quality character, honesty, moral integrity – how does one in business view these human attributes? I tend to view them as a given with the people I interact in both the business world and in my personal life as well. I expect the best from people yet keep my eyes open for behavior that contradicts my expectations.

I am a business broker based in Florida. In the profession of helping those buy and sell businesses. In my profession, as with most all professions you have what some consider good business brokers, bad business brokers, and OK business brokers. Most all industries have the good, the bad, and the average. Is it ethical practices which help define the good, bad or OK?

I recently experienced a business activity that made me take special note of a business clients actions. Basically, we had a verbal understanding and agreement regarding a business relationship we would enter into contractually. While driving to meet with client to sign the documents that outlined our agreement my client was approached by others.

The client and I had no written agreement between us. The client could potentially go in another direction which could cost me a fair amount of money. I had left at 5:00 am to drive 6 hours to meet client and about 1/2 hour before I got to our meeting he called me to tell me of this other situation. After listening to what he had on his mind, I was somewhat pleased when he then asked me how long before I could get there and we could sign our papers and I could represent him with this prospective buyer of his business. He told me he felt he needed the assistance of my representation, yet he could of handled the situation so much differently. Before this exchange I viewed this potential client as a good, honest, straight forward individual. His actions reinforced to me the value of dealing with a person of good character.

I have shared this story with several of my friends that are business owners and their response was fairly common. They too also greatly value dealing with a person of good character. But that fact that those around me hold business relationships with those of good character in such high regard, makes me realize good character from others is a valuable yet somewhat limited commodity.

A few weeks back my teenage son and I were talking of the Tiger Woods situation regarding his many documented affairs. We both are active golfers and had admired Tiger Woods golf skills over the last 10+ years.

Golf is an interesting game and it has been said that one can learn more about a person in one round of golf than you can in multiple office based meetings. I asked my son that if Tiger Woods had “cheated” on his wife and family, do you think he may have cheated on golf. My son said, “No,” I said, “Why?” He said that he thinks Tiger Woods views golf so importantly that he wouldn’t cheat on golf. So I asked him the obvious, “So you think he views cheating on golf to be worst than cheating on your wife and family and that is where he draws the line?” My teenage son said, “Yes.”

I have been associated with several different organizations, associations, and trade groups. I still get a little surprised that many of these such groups feel compelled to teach ethics. I am in the profession of being a business broker and I work with individuals and businesses in the process of buying and selling businesses. I consider the fact that I will treat my clients and customers in an honest, ethical, and moral manner as a given, yet when I witness others that “consistently take the high road” I take special notice. I have been a member of the business community for several decades and recognize that most all of us are on a quest to increase financial gain. Where does ethical behaviour fit in that mix?

*Do you feel business ethics can be taught and learned by all in the business world?

*Is business ethics much different than normal ethics one utilizes in the everyday game of life?

*Can ethics be taught to a 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 year old? Or is it ingrained in you before you enter the workforce?

*Is it OK to treat someone unethically and then pass it off as “Its just business”? To this I say No and have always felt that. I have never really understood “Its just business.”

*I have never understood “I had to cheat you out of $X, but it was just business”, ” I know I treated you wrong, but it was just business” – what does that really mean?

*Does proper ethical behavior really require actual thought or is it more of an involuntary response that just occurs like breathing and blinking?

*Is dealing with a person and expecting honest ethical behavior a given and glossed over to allow “more important business issues to be discussed”, or is it the important issue that all else revolves around?

Stacked Tire Worm Farm

Have you ever given a thought to what it must be like to be a child sitting in a dusty drab schoolroom, trying desperately to concentrate, while hunger gnaws continually at your belly. This is the daily reality for many African children, both in remote rural communities and also in the ghastly shack-towns that surround the major cities. Jobs are a rarity, families are under stress and there just is never any money, period! Worst of all, this situation is not going to change anytime soon. Probably not in our lifetime!


Concerned people, both local and outsiders realize that international food aid can only go so far and often dries up, just when it is most needed, as in the current international financial crisis. To survive, the communities have to find a way to help themselves. Intervention at a local level is needed. One solution to the problem is to promote food gardens at the schools themselves – run jointly by the community, the parents , the teachers and mostly by the children themselves. Labor is freely available and skills can be taught, but the problem is that what little money that can be collected must go towards buying tools, seeds and fertilizer. The tools would be unsophisticated and can be donated or borrowed. Some seed would have to be bought, but in part it can be collected from the last crop. Fertilizer is always the main problem. In many areas soils are very impoverished and would yield little.


This is where worm composting can lend a hand. Vermiculture produces high quality organic fertilizer that can be 20 times higher in nutriments than natural soil and brings trace elements and beneficial micro organisms to the roots of the crops, while simultaneously improving the disease resistance and moisture retention of poor soils. Crops grown using vermicompost will be fully organic and organic food is far healthier than any commercially grown products.  Providing fodder for the worms is no problem, there are always organic wastes to be collected, in the form of animal dung, crop trash, paper or fallen leaves. Of the many types of vermiculture systems available , the stacked tire worm farm, which costs nothing to set up, is the most appropriate solution . We have described the setting up and operation of this simple system in detail on our web site at


In brief, all the children need to do, is to collect discarded old tires and stack them upon a drainage board, as described in the article, and then begin feeding in organic waste from the top. The compost worms, will naturally migrate upwards towards the food, leaving their faeces (worm castings) behind them. The vermicompost is harvested by pulling out the lower tire from the bottom. The tire is emptied of compost and then it goes back to the top of the stack again and so on.  The beauty of this system is that it costs nothing to set up and can be replicated many times over, to create multiple sets of individual worm farms to whatever scale is appropriate. All that is needed is a small amount of training and a supply of suitable compost worms – usually eisinia fetida (red wigglers), which can be donated from other schools, already on the programme, or from concerned individuals.


Stacked Tire Worm Composting is an appropriate low tech solution to a widespread Third World problem. It is a technology that does not require constant cash injections and can be fully run by the communities themselves. Besides everything else, the children will have a great deal of fun worm farming and will learn something useful. Best of all they will be doing something positive to improve their own lot, without relying on any handouts. This builds up human dignity. “Give a man a fish and you feed him today , teach him to fish and you feed him always”.


Think about it – maybe there is something you can do to help.

Baby Boomers Use Alternative Medicine

According to a recent study conducted at Ohio State University, about 70 percent of the 50 Plus market use alternative medicine. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, Professor Gong-Soog Hong spearheaded a survey that included almost 900 participants aged 50 and above. 65 percent of seniors who described themselves in poor health said they used some form of alternative medicine they considered either curative or preventive–a higher percentage than any other group.

Baby boomers are searching for other ways to alleviate symptoms such as chronic pain and arthritis, as well as utilizing alternative therapies as preventive medicine. Chiropractic care topped the list with a whopping 43% of respondents, while acupuncture came in last.

Last fall, another survey of baby boomers was conducted by Sorelli B, a national research firm. This particular study showed than more than one third of those surveyed said that chiropractic care prevented the need for prescription drugs and physical therapy. The respondents also believed that chiropractic care helped them avoid back surgery and long, grueling, hospital stays. Close to 60 percent of those surveyed stated they would be willing to petition their insurance companies to include chiropractic as a component of their health care plan even though they were willing to pay for those services out-of-pocket.

The other most popular methods of alternative medicine include massage therapy, breathing exercises, herbal medicine and meditation.

The first study looking at alternative medicine use among seniors with depression finds that close to 20 percent are using gingko biloba, ginseng, St. John’s Wort and other herbal remedies. The surprising findings could cause concern with physicians who treat baby boomers as most patients were unaware of the risks of potential drug interactions.

Helen Kale, M.D., from the University of Michigan says, “The results merit further study and suggest that seniors may have entered the alternative medicine market ina big way, much bigger than we thought.”

Why alternative medicine? Older adults are searching for different kind of treatment to lessen the aches and pains that often come with age. Seniors are reporting problems with daily activities such as carrying groceries, eating or bathing. Moreover, many of them are simply not satisfied with mainstream health care and often have issues with the current state of conventional health care. “Older adults tend to have more chronic illnesses and conventional medicine doesn’t always solve their problems,” says Hong.

In addition, the survey showed that because the treatment of chronic pain is very difficult and demanding, people living in such pain will try everything possible to alleviate it.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), the percentage of the 50 plus market who received a massage from a massage therapist in the past five years has almost tripled. Why do baby boomers get massage? For health reasons, according to the survey. Seniors even indicated they seek massage for health reasons (other than stress relief and relaxation) more than any other age group (41 percent).

The least popular practice of alternative medicine surfaced in the U.S. in the 1970s, Acupuncture has gained acceptance as an alternative to traditional Western medicine for pain relief and for treating a variety of other health conditions. Studies show that baby boomers who sufffer from muscle and bone pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and other ranges of problems, are giving acupuncture a try to lessen their symptoms.

The health-minded baby boomer generation is also exercising. Being physically active is the solution to maintaining the quality of life for adults 50 years and older. 16 million seniors exercise at least three times per week. From 1987 to 1995, the number of 50-plus health club members jumped 199%, and the number of 65-plus who joined health clubs jumped a staggering 669%. According to the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), most active adult communities are responding to this need by including wellness centers within their planned communities. Plus, age-targeted programs have been shown to be quite popular with tremendous benefits to other types of senior housing, fitness facilities and publicly-sponsored community recreation programs.

Interestingly enough, day spas are quickly becoming a hot market for those aged 50 and better. Instead of the usual day spa fare of facials and waxing, now medical spas or MedSpas are cropping up in the market. MedSpas take all the comfort and care of day spas, yet add the latest in medical technology. Mud packs and cucumber slices have been replaced with high-tech advanced fluorescence technology, microdermabrasion, and ultrasound technologies–all designed to help the 50 plus market feel better about their appearance.

Although alternative medicine plays a huge role in the lives of baby boomers, when it comes to health, there is no comparison to preventive measures. The Southeastern Institute of Research found that the 50 plus market say some of the most important things to do to stay healthy are to get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet. It’s no wonder that life expectancy has increased by 30 years in the past century.

As health care costs continue to rise, baby boomers will continue to seek alternative medicine and transform into “health boomers.” They have defined health care because they’re strong, vocal, and know what they want. Boomers are healthier than any generation of seniors in history and live longer, happier lives.