If I could define a man in one word it’s character. Before all the external trappings of success, being a man is about character. Because character is what gets you the things you want in life. And character can’t be taken from you, even in a jail cell. Think of your reputation as the external manifestation of your character. If character defines you to yourself, your reputation is what defines you to the world. And you need to guard that reputation with your life. In the same way you protect your health and your wealth… Because your reputation not only precedes you wherever you go, but it’s the legacy you leave behind. And without it, all the success in the world is nothing more than a Pyrrhic victory. Whats the point of being successful when everyone views you as a scumbag? You’re chasing success because of the self esteem you get from it in the eyes of others. But you rob yourself of that payoff when you do things that make people see you as dirty. Your reputation is about you being accountable, reliable and ethical. In other words being a stand up guy. Now this isn’t about me preaching to you, or pretending I’m a saint, because I’m not. This is about me selling you on reputation because it’s in your best interests. When you gamble with your reputation, you’ll eventually lose. It’s one thing to lose money on an investment because you can’t get that back. But you can’t buy your reputation back. Instead you have to go out into the world with the mark of Cain on you. When you sell unethical products and services, word gets around. That’s what people see on the first page of google. Not only that, but you lose the long term money. You lose clients instead of keeping them. You lose referrals. You lose word of mouth advertising. You lose the goodwill of your brand. Dirty business is short term thinking that costs you long term money. Not only that, but dirty business can cost you your freedom. As much money as Bernie Madoff made he can’t buy his freedom or his reputation back. Harvey Weinstein can’t buy his reputation or his career back. It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and five minutes to lose it. And you’ll forever be fighting against being seen as that guy. Sure you can get away with gambling your reputation for a little while… But you don’t win there either. You have to live with fear of being exposed every day. You have to live with the fear of angry clients and customers looking for their money back. You have to live with fear of being called out online. You have to live with fear of lawsuits. You have to do mental gymnastics with your mind to be able to look in the mirror. You have to be constantly looking for new marks to burn and turn. You have to expend tremendous psychic energy to be able to hide and keep your secrets. And you rob yourself of the joy of adding value to others. When you’re a stand up guy you don’t have to worry about any of that. You can sleep easy and enjoy helping your clients and customers. You can go all out on your mission because you know you’re doing the right thing. And when your friends are stand up guys, you can do business on a handshake. Contrary to popular opinion, most guys who do well keep their word. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be in business very long. Do you think Warren Buffett would be worth billions if he was running Ponzi schemes and shanking his business associates at the first opportunity? Not a chance. With guys at that level it’s a small world, and they all know each other. One dirty deal and no one wants to do business with you. Even in Hollywood, as tough as that town is, a lot of top guys there do business on a handshake. Because they know the other guy is solid because of his reputation. Your reputation precedes you wherever you go and it’s why you leave behind. That’s why you have to guard it with your life.