Due to running an intermittently successful small business for over a decade, focusing on the bottom line and increasing profitability used to be a daily obsession for me. One of the key activities was attracting new customers. Anyone who had the slightest potential of interest in my company’s service would immediately receive the greatest possible attention. In other words, “always be closing” was the chief operating principle.
Those days are now in the rearview. A new step must be added: a complete understanding of the potential client’s voting and ideological background.
The night before Thanksgiving I watched with rapt attention as Tucker Carlson interviewed a business owner from New Mexico who just recently announced that Donald Trump supporters are no longer welcome as employees or customers. In a company blog post titled “Trump Supporters Client Accounts Canceled” published just after the election, he said: “If you are a Republican, voted for Donald Trump or support Donald Trump, in any manner, you are not welcome at 1st In SEO and we ask you to leave our firm. 1st In SEO will do everything in our power to ensure that we break ties with any person or business that supports Fascism.”
I am so incredibly inspired and excited that I cannot believe it. This changes EVERYTHING. It didn’t take much time for Mathew Blanchfield’s bold and wise explanation of his position to completely upend everything I used to believe was true.
My new position is simple: if a client doesn’t have the identical ideological, political, religious, and social views as I do, I’m going to refuse to do business with him. The same goes for employees and other vendors. If there are conflicts within any existing relationships, they’ll be summarily ended.
Screw Cooperation With Your Fellow Man
Embarrassingly, my views on this used to be informed by an entirely different sensibility. When I was getting my economics degree in college, I watched a short video featuring Milton Friedman explaining how people in the free market cooperate to make a seemingly simple product: “Lessons of the Pencil.”
One of Friedman’s assertions was that the market’s cooperation would include those who might loathe one another in any other situation. Driven by self-interest, they would be part of an extensive effort that would yield a simple pencil, despite having no common interests between the participants. Now, thanks to 1st in SEO’s CEO, I see the immorality in such activity. Such interactions should never ever occur.
I also recall with significant embarrassment absolutely loving an article in the Wall Street Journal from years ago. It described the complex arrangements between Israeli architects and designers with the owners of marble quarries in Iran. Trade restrictions that have been in place for years specifically forbid them to buy or import Iranian stone. Complex schemes have been created to sidestep the barriers and get the marble onto buildings and into homes throughout Israel.
At the time I marveled at the power of the marketplace to overcome political fights so that desired goods could be bought and sold. Now I see that one should only trade with ideological twins.
Let’s Take It a Step Further, Please
One particularly helpful thing this insightful business owner did to bring the whole issue into proper focus was to employ the always-helpful Hitler reference in describing his opposition. Illuminating foes in the starkest and grimmest possible light eliminates any potential for nuance and renders decision-making a thought-free process. That’s a pretty useful tool. You wouldn’t do business with Hitler, would you? Then why would you do business with X or Y? Perfect.
There is one problem with his stance, however, and it is this: he is leaving it up to his clients to self-identify as Trump supporters and take their business elsewhere. I don’t quite understand this passivity.
Presumably he knows of some of the political leanings of his customer base and has taken direct steps to disconnect with them. But what of those whose perspective remains unknown? Why leave it up to them? To me this is outrageous and unconscionable.
It seems the correct ethical stance requires vigorous research and proactive termination. Some social media lurking, a drive-by or two of their residences, “accidental” conversations at the grocery store or in the church pew, contracting with a private investigator, and other similar activities are certainly reasonable solutions. If someone comes up clean, then business can continue. If they’re dirty and infected, they’re out.
For my own business, I’ve already done some of these things. Emails, with the ironic subject line “You’re Fired,” have already been sent out to my now-unwanted clientele. The purging and disinfecting feels very good.
Perhaps he doesn’t have the manpower to launch such a campaign. In that case, I’d be happy to contract with him to do the groundwork. In fact, that might be a really good business to get into. As more businesses come on line with this new morality, the opportunities would be massive.
Of course, some detailed questions would need to be answered first.