This week, someone noticed a how-to-be-a-pedophile book for sale on Amazon.com. It had been there for a while, and not very many copies were selling. Then, the Internet happened.
As soon as the existence of that book (and Amazon’s willingness to sell it) started getting around, its sales rank shot up in a big way. I presume that was the result of curiosity taking over, and not an indication that there are tens of thousands of would-be pedophiles lacking the intelligence to find their tools without help from others.
Hmm . . . a discussion on the intelligence of pedophiles. I may have to revisit that topic.
I was planning to ignore this as one more tidbit not worthy of your time. But then, Amazon did a flip-flop. When first criticized for selling the book, they cited free speech as the reason they had no choice but to keep doing so. Twenty-four hours later, they reversed field and pulled the book.
Neither position was genuine.
Amazon.com’s initial stance as defenders of free speech was wrong. It isn’t their place to defend free speech. They’re a business; Amazon’s place is to make money for their shareholders and employees. Lawyer and judges can’t even agree on what free speech is when it comes up for debate or constitutional review.
Their decision to pull the book a day or so later was even worse. It would have been fine initially, by the way, and Amazon’s terms of service give them the absolute right to pull “inappropriate” materials merely because they say they’re inappropriate. But having hidden behind the free speech shield and made a nice pile of money for a little while to then take a “moral” stand and remove the book was completely disingenuous.
Do you do this in business?
Amazon can get away with it, of course. They broke no law on either side of their waffling, nor through the waffling itself. With that said, their position as Amazon makes this just another minor transaction. There won’t be a big, sales-impacting boycott of Amazon as a result. By next week nobody will remember it.
But until you’re Amazon, you probably can’t get away with it. If it’s how you’ve always done things, that’s great, but if you need to start taking stands and sticking to them right now as part of your business change, then today’s the day.
Let me give you an example of making tough decisions.
The PC-VIP part of our business recently was referred to a new client that falls precisely in our bailiwick. While interviewing the contact it became apparent that although PC-VIP would be a perfect choice for them, the way they were currently handling their IT support was in conflict with us being able to take care of them in the way that they deserve and the way that I demand of this company.
I’m a businessperson. I like making money. I could have blown smoke up the proverbial skirt of the person I was speaking with. Instead, I was straight: I want to do business with you, but I won’t take your money unless it’s the right choice for you to give it to me.
The punchline isn’t that we missed a business opportunity.
The conversation continued, and we got the business. Not everything that’s there, but more than we were being asked to talk about initially. And the conversation wasn’t exactly comfortable during the part when I was telling this person that we couldn’t do right by them unless we did more than they were asking for and got paid more and helped them enact business change.
I explained my position. I stuck to my position. I found a way to combine flexibility with that position. Business Change Effected.
If you want to sell books, sell books. If you want to include pornography or books about pedophilia, then sell books about pornography and pedophilia. But decide for yourself what your position is, and stick to it.
And by the way: the important part of that last sentence wasn’t the “stick to it”. It was the “DECIDE“.