Today we shared the following note with our 3,776 Jefferies Employee-Partners. Given that each of these news stories currently dominates the global news cycle with breathtaking speed, we thought it was important to understand the meaning and implications of living and working in today’s world. We are not assessing, judging or suggesting any implication on the people that are in the current round of topical news stories. We simply are taking notice of the speed and transparency of today’s world. We are sharing this with all of you, our clients, with the hope that it helps you and your team navigate the challenges and opportunities in front of you.
1. A Leader Is Accused of Bad Behavior and Immediately Releases the Relevant Transcript, Prompting An Equally Quick Impeachment Threat
2. People Die From Vaping and States Swiftly Act to Change Laws, As CEO Abruptly Resigns
3. Entrepreneurial Upstart Begins Pre-Marketing IPO and the Deal is Quickly Pulled With Instant Resignation of Charismatic CEO due to Aggressive Business Model and Perceived Conflicts of Interest
4. Large Bank Accused of Spying on Departing Executive; Board immediately Initiates Investigation and Says They Will Determine Facts and Quickly Share Conclusions
Before we discuss our observations of the world today, let us stress the things we repeat over and over again because it can never be said often enough: Always do the right thing. Be honest. Do business with integrity. Follow a moral compass that always heads in the right direction. Be a trusted partner to your colleagues, friends and family. That kind of behavior is its own reward and shines when held to the light of day.
We want to be clear that we are not passing judgment or offering any opinion on the innocence or culpability of any of the individuals dominating the major news stories we have just highlighted. Very few people know the full facts, least of all the two of us. Needless to say, these are also all complicated situations. The point of this note is that, even when you live your life with the goal of always doing the right thing: Today, the Quest for Complete Transparency Is Relentless and Occurs at Light Speed. Whether it is due to today’s technological innovation, an empowered and more-engaged media, or a sharply divided population, the fact is the truth, whether good or bad, will absolutely come out and it will be faster than ever.
This incontrovertible reality has implications for every one of us as we build Jefferies, serve our clients well and live our lives:
1. Do the right thing. (We told you we were going to repeat it.) We will continue to demand this from ourselves and from all of you. Culture matters more now than ever before. An organization has to stand for something, and integrity, transparency and truth must be the foundation that Jefferies is built upon.
2. Don’t go it alone and, equally important, don’t surround yourself with people who are not willing to stand up to you and tell you when you are veering in the wrong direction. There is no room today on your team for “Yes Men” or “Yes Women”. Complete information needs to be shared with the right people and they need to be empowered to share their honest opinions without fear of retribution. Protect your partners and give them the power to protect you.
3. Each of us must assume that every single thing we do immediately will be shared with the world. People’s “self-preservation” genes should be on overdrive and an internal warning alarm must be encouraged to go off. Listen to that alarm closely. There may not be a second warning.
4. When one is falsely accused, the rapid transparency of truth should serve as a welcome sense of quick relief. Nobody is more eager for the facts to come out than someone who has the facts on their side. Often this is the case and premature judgement on hearsay or emotion is incredibly unfortunate.
5. Most people have high moral fiber and are always in search of how to do things the proper way and for the right reasons. The challenge is that circumstances in the world are often gray and it can be easy to take a winding and convoluted path to the wrong conclusion; sometimes it’s the small baby steps that take you ultimately to the wrong spot. That is why we always need to raise our hand for advice and support before we decide on anything that contains any shades of gray. Ask people you respect for help.
Happy to be working with all of you under the spotlight of immediate and incredible transparency.
Rich and Brian