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NOTABLE! ETHICS IN THE FASTLANE: How low will you sink for wealth?

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CrocodileX

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Historically, a lot of the largest winners in the Fastlane have been revealed to have a less than savory vision of what is ethical in the marketplace.

From throwing chickens into a grinder (Tyson) to low wages (Walmart, Carnegie Steel) to adding salt to soda to increase thirst (Coca-Cola), to lobbying politicians to get laws past that protect and/or benefit your corporation, if you can name a well-known enough Fastlane winner, I'm sure I could dig up something that calls their ethics model into question.

My question is, WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE AT UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR?

If everyone lines up and says, "I'd never do anything unethical" because it's the "right" answer, then I will be disappointed. If you want to win all the time, you have to cheat. Even saying, "I'd pay my employees the absolute lowest I can get away with, even if it means that health insurance would burden them" is one man's no-no but another man's necessary evil.

With everyone on here cloaked in anonymity concerning their businesses, it should open the forum to a little honesty in what you consider ethical behavior that others may not.

So.... how low would you sink?
 

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jazb

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No thanks. people like that give fastlane/capitalism/business a terrible name.

Always try to do what is right, even if it costs you money. when its all said and done, at least you can look back on your life knowing what you did what was right. I can't imagine the examples you gave would think the same.
 

Formless

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I have absolutely zero interest in being the next billionaire.

There is no need for me to make compromises.
 

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This is such a loaded question I don't even know where to begin :p

I think you'll find that everyone has different lines in the sand and it can often be all over the place across many different issues.

One person's fair market value is another's "unconscionable compensation".
One person's choice of globalized outsourcing to utilize the best of a global economy is another person's "downfall of America"

There's really no easy answer to this stuff and most of it comes down to personal beliefs.

Quite frankly it's not the kind of discussion that makes for great dinner conversation :)
 

FionaS

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Personally, I strive to be as ethical as I possibly can. I'm not in the Fastlane, yet, but I would assume that that would translate over as well. From how I'd treat employees (competitive wages, healthcare, 401K matching, etc) to how I run the business itself. I have no interest in being at all unethical (consciously, of course, mistakes happen, which I would fix ASAP).

I started volunteering at the police department at age 14, I guess all their talk about ethics has been kinda ingrained in me since then - lecture after lecture (continuing in college as well) about ethics. ;) It literally makes me sick to my stomach to do something I know is wrong. Yes, people have different ideas of what's right and wrong. I may do some things that I believe are ethically right that others believe are wrong. I don't know what, but I'm sure I do something 'wrong' in some peoples' minds.

Do what's right, even when no one's watching. That's my motto. Even if it costs me money, gives me difficulties, or makes some less than ethical people want nothing to do with me. It's worth it.
 
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CrocodileX

CrocodileX

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I wouldn't ask anyone to do anything I wouldn't do, so lemme share with you some unethical stuff I've done as a lifetime entrepreneur.

*cue my "Chunk" confessional from The Goonies*

1. In the 90's, I wrote a script that manipulated mp3.com's radio station ranking system, putting all of my stations on the top in every genre. Then I wrote a script that hit up bands on mp3.com and told them my company would air them on my stations (mp3.com paid royalties every time someone listened to your music) if they went over to the competitor, IUMA, and registered an account. At the time, IUMA paid $15 per referral. Needless to say, all of these bands followed my landing page's simple 1-2-3 instructions and I ended up generating $11,000/month in revenue until IUMA was bought out by Vitamin-C. Soon mp3.com folded and that venture was over.

MY FEELINGS? Eh. It was a prick on the finger for bands and I made more money than anyone I knew.


2. I signed up for a "dialer" affiliate program and placed them on auto-generated free adult sites in exchange for 25% commission. A dialer's purpose was to be a trojan horse that would (unknowningly to the person who voluntarily downloaded it thinking it was a free porn engine) disconnect your dial-up connection and route you through an Int'l long-distance number that charged upwards of $1/min. Most victims were hard-working Slowlaners with families and when they got the $700 bill for accessing "freelesbians.exe", they would quietly pay it and stop using the service before the wife foun out. I made about $10,000/month in the late 90's from this.

MY FEELINGS? I told my mother what I had done and she asked me if God would approve of me using my natural coding skills to do this. I felt terrible and stopped doing this on my own accord, forfeiting over $2,000/week for 2 hours work.


3. I signed up and peddled "VigRX" on landing pages hosted on free servers. VigRX was supposed to give you "male enhancement". The kicker here was it was endorsed by RON FREAKING JEREMY!!!! There was this low-res, Real-Player video of him endorsing the product so I figured it was legit and used their marketing materials with my own hand-created landing pages. All of a sudden, I was getting $200-$800 checks in the mail every week and I was ecstatic. I didn't know anything about the product, but it obviously cost a lot of money because my commissions divided by page views were astronomical. I then started getting emails from angry customers. I don't know how they found my email address but they did. They were so upset for spending so much money on snake oil. The product ran its life cycle and stopped paying out accordingly after about a year.

MY FEELINGS? I unknowingly propogated a scam product after being duped by the fame of the endorser. These guys who spent money on this were rich. I didn't feel bad at all. I actually kind of laughed before refusing to use that email account anymore because I didn't want to see the angry victim letters.


Those are 3 things I've done that are unethical but paid huge amounts of money. And those are my honest feelings on the outcome.

I've been an entrepreneur since childhood and have struck it rich quite a few times. Each time though, the payday disappeared overnight due to an uncontrollable event.

I read TMF and learned a lot. I want to learn a lot about the structure of entreprenurialism so my next venture isn't so hit-or-miss. I learned that to make it in the Fastlane, I need to create VALUE. Real value, not preceived value. If you exploit a system for pay, you are a slave to the very system you are killing by exploiting it.


In the future, would I do things that cross my ethical line in the name of wealth? YES. Business is business, nothing personal. Would I build my process on something unethical? NO. Would I do anything like the things I listed above? HELL NO.

I am not a bad person. I feel like TMF made me a better person because it clarified why each one of my businesses ultimately failed and how I could've seen it coming. At the same time, I know from experience that money changes you. When you are making real money, the pressure to keep that money coming in changes your ideals. It's easy to say, "I'd never do anything I considered unethical" when all you have is a dollar and a dream.

I would honestly like to say though, for those of you angels out there who would refuse to do anything they weren't 100% comfortable with in the name of wealth, I don't think you stand a chance in this game. Prove me wrong by posting here in front of your estate and say it was all earned without one necessary evil. I apologize, but I believe wealth comes at a price and one of those prices is sometimes having to look the other way while pushing the "execute" button, no matter how small of the consequence.
 

pickeringmt

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Historically, a lot of the largest winners in the Fastlane have been revealed to have a less than savory vision of what is ethical in the marketplace.

From throwing chickens into a grinder (Tyson) to low wages (Walmart, Carnegie Steel) to adding salt to soda to increase thirst (Coca-Cola), to lobbying politicians to get laws past that protect and/or benefit your corporation, if you can name a well-known enough Fastlane winner, I'm sure I could dig up something that calls their ethics model into question.

My question is, WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE LINE AT UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR?

If everyone lines up and says, "I'd never do anything unethical" because it's the "right" answer, then I will be disappointed. If you want to win all the time, you have to cheat. Even saying, "I'd pay my employees the absolute lowest I can get away with, even if it means that health insurance would burden them" is one man's no-no but another man's necessary evil.

With everyone on here cloaked in anonymity concerning their businesses, it should open the forum to a little honesty in what you consider ethical behavior that others may not.

So.... how low would you sink?
This entire concept is flawed - you are insinuating that these businesses were built on unethical practices, when in fact they only move in that direction after deviating from the original core principles that made them great. I'd add that the people that put things like this into practice aren't generally the people that actually build businesses either - they are generally someone that comes in looking for ways to squeeze more out of a system already in place.

You can make a lot of money from a bad ethical framework, but it will never be sustainable. In that sense, poor ethics has no fastlane application because it violates the principle of scale and magnitude - there are inherent long-term limitations in bad business.

You make the best choices you can. All the time. That isn't just business, that is life. You can't outrun the consequences of your own choices.
 
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CrocodileX

CrocodileX

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I disagree with you whole-heartedly.

CASE IN POINT: The nutritional supplement industry. Very sustainable... preys on the greed of the consumer for instant results.

CASE IN POINT: The theater industry. They overcharge outlandishly for concessions, it's built into their business model. No kid should have to pay $5.75 for a box of Raisinettes that sell for 99 cents at Wal-Mart.

CASE IN POINT: It's detailed and discussed heavily in The Millionaire Fastlane. All of the companies with Fastlane processes selling "Get Rich Quick" schemes to uneducated Slowlaners and Sidewalkers. MJ Demarco even calls out the Rich Dad, Poor Dad guy on if he made his fortune in real estate, or from his book campaigns.


Ethics are an everyday part of economics. At my slowlane job, my supervisor gave me a raise and told me to forward him tickets from any tech who documents that they did something but the client calls back and says they didn't. My supervisor wants me to snitch on my co-workers, who are all guilty of fudging a little on their tickets to save time, avoid tedious process, etc.

I believe it is unethical to snitch. Anyone on here who snitches on their co-workers is by my personal definition, unethical. I have to do it at work though. If tickets get back to my supervisor that have been on my desk and not reported, I will be disciplined accordingly. I have to engage in unethical behavior in my slowlane job. It's a necessary evil.

Anyone who is above unethical behavior I applaud you. Any of you who can be real and understand that it happens and you have to adjust accordingly, I applaud you more.
 

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CrocodileX

CrocodileX

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You can make a lot of money from a bad ethical framework, but it will never be sustainable. In that sense, poor ethics has no fastlane application because it violates the principle of scale and magnitude - there are inherent long-term limitations in bad business.

You make the best choices you can. All the time. That isn't just business, that is life. You can't outrun the consequences of your own choices.
Ok, riddle me this? Why do hospitals bill my insurance $28 for a $5 dinner? Why do they bill my insurance $12 for a 50 cent plasic urinal container? That is UNETHICAL, yet is very sustainable.

How about this... why does Ralph Lauren take a shirt that sells for $10 at the swap meet, put his logo on it, then sell it for $50 at Macy's? It''s unethical to overcharge people by most people's standards. Is his brand so valuable that it's worth a 500% markup? It's just a logo, the shirt is the exact same one that is sold by other vendors for 1/5 the price.

Look around you, unethical behavior is a cornerstone in economics.
 

Digamma

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Look around you, unethical behavior is a cornerstone in economics.
All the examples you name are just supply and demand. Overcharging, as you call it, is not unethical because the right charge is what people are ready to spend. Unless people are forced to buy, than there is no ethical debate.

Now, to be clear, I agree with you - partially. Ethics is a line in the sand. It's not absolute. It can't be.
What is more ethical, lying about the tickets, snitching on the liars, or putting a snitch in the midst of your employees? The world is never black and white, regardless of any narrative Western people raised between cushions like to believe.
 

Lathan

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Is his brand so valuable that it's worth a 500% markup?
Yes, apparently.

The consumer is responsible for the purchases they make. They could just have easily bought the swap meet shirt for 1/5th the price but they trust Ralph Lauren as a brand. A product is worth what people are willing to pay for it.

By your logic, even selling a product for a dollar more than it's actually worth would be unethical. Are you suggesting that all companies should aim to break even? A 'business' isn't a 'business' if it's not making money. Everyone would just be spinning their wheels breaking even. Business makes the world go round.
 

pickeringmt

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Ok, riddle me this? Why do hospitals bill my insurance $28 for a $5 dinner? Why do they bill my insurance $12 for a 50 cent plasic urinal container? That is UNETHICAL, yet is very sustainable.
Dude this is obviously NOT sustainable. Look at the state of the healthcare industry and tell me it is in good shape. Government involvement has done much more to hurt healthcare than business ever will.
How about this... why does Ralph Lauren take a shirt that sells for $10 at the swap meet, put his logo on it, then sell it for $50 at Macy's? It''s unethical to overcharge people by most people's standards. Is his brand so valuable that it's worth a 500% markup? It's just a logo, the shirt is the exact same one that is sold by other vendors for 1/5 the price.
This is just a poor understanding of what business is. Ralph Lauren takes a $10 shirt and makes it worth MORE than $50 in the eyes of a consumer (they wouldn't pay $50 for it if it wasn't worth it). People get paid. Jobs are created. You are happy wearing your shirt. $40+ of VALUE is CREATED from a business transaction. This is $40+ that would not exist if that shirt had not been made, sold, and purchased.

The idea that you don't think it is worth it is what makes you think you have some right to call it "unethical". It is thinking like this that demonizes business - the single most positive force on this planet.

I suggest you look around yourself. You take for granted the millions of benefits that good business has on every person.

And the ultimate kicker is that we truly DO have a say in what we believe in, because business is entirely driven by our own approval - in the form of the dollars we choose to spend on goods and services. This is why bad business is doomed to fail, and good business will always win.
Look around you, unethical behavior is a cornerstone in economics.
This statement alone demonstrates a lack of knowledge and understanding in the areas of business and economics. You are trying to tell me that the cornerstone of a system of mutual exchange for benefit is based on bad values and unethical behavior?

The problem here isn't a flawed system, it's a flawed understanding based on opinion rather than fact.
 
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CrocodileX

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My point is, ethics are subjective. What one person feels is unethical someone else doesn't. My point of this thread is, what would YOU be comfortable doing that YOU feel is unethical?

To whoever is telling me I demonstrate a lack of knowledge and understand about business blah blah. Go look in the mirror. Where are your millions? Where are they if you know everything and I am so remedial?

I think overcharging is unethical. You may not. I think it is unethical to mark up an item too high when it's fair market value is a lot lower. I think theaters are unethical for charging so much for candy. You may not. Ethics are all a matter of opinion.

To those of you who are on a high horse and want to tell me how uneducated I am for posting my opinion, good for you. You are all geniuses and should be writing books for MJ Demarco to read and learn from since you have such an extensive history of performing well as an entrepreneur. I'm actually a member of Mensa... so if you wanna play the "you prove you know nothing" game, well I could be just as petty and upload a pic of my Mensa ID card and tell you that there is a 98% chance you do not have the ability to learn what I can learn and therefore are mathematically inclined to perform less than me over any long-term forecast.
 

Lathan

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My point is, ethics are subjective. What one person feels is unethical someone else doesn't. My point of this thread is, what would YOU be comfortable doing that YOU feel is unethical?
So in other words, this thread is completely pointless?

To whoever is telling me I demonstrate a lack of knowledge and understand about business blah blah. Go look in the mirror. Where are your millions? Where are they if you know everything and I am so remedial?
To those of you who are on a high horse and want to tell me how uneducated I am for posting my opinion, good for you. You are all geniuses and should be writing books for MJ Demarco to read and learn from since you have such an extensive history of performing well as an entrepreneur. I'm actually a member of Mensa... so if you wanna play the "you prove you know nothing", well I could be just as petty and upload a pic of my Mensa ID card and tell you that there is a 98% chance you do not have the ability to learn what I can learn.
I think YOU should look in the mirror. You sound bitter. No need to get all defensive. No one here is attacking you.
 
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I'm not bitter. Someone on here said I "This statement alone demonstrates a lack of knowledge and understanding in the areas of business and economics" and is a personal attack on my comprehension of what this entire forum is all about.

I'm not being defensive. This thread's topic is about what you would feel like you would do that goes against your personal beliefs, not who thinks they know more about economics versus those who don't.
 

axiom

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Nobody would buy a Ralph Lauren shirt if it was $10. The brand is the value.

Just like nobody would buy a Lamborghini if it was $20,000.

By the way, maybe I'm biased since I am in the supplement industry, but you are making the incorrect assumption that there is NO value in the market. Do some people take advantage of consumers and sell snake oil? Sure. However, there are others (the majority) who sell quality products that provide the consumer value.
 

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personal attack on my comprehension of what this entire forum is all about.
I wouldn't call that an "attack", but to each their own.

Why do you want to know about what other people are willing to do that they may feel is unethical? I'm genuinely curious. I mean, is it just out of curiosity? Or is it something else?
 

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I think overcharging is unethical. You may not. I think it is unethical to mark up an item too high when it's fair market value is a lot lower. I think theaters are unethical for charging so much for candy. You may not. Ethics are all a matter of opinion.
This isn't ethics, this is understanding the consumer. You don't pay it. Others do. If nobody did, they wouldn't charge that much. You are looking at this entire subject from your single subjective point of view and applying your opinion as fact.
You are a genius. You should understand this concept.
 

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Digamma

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I'm actually a member of Mensa... so if you wanna play the "you prove you know nothing" game, well I could be just as petty and upload a pic of my Mensa ID card and tell you that there is a 98% chance you do not have the ability to learn what I can learn and therefore are mathematically inclined to perform less than me over any long-term forecast.

I'm not bitter. Someone on here said I "This statement alone demonstrates a lack of knowledge and understanding in the areas of business and economics" and is a personal attack on my comprehension of what this entire forum is all about.
Well, to be fair, you refuted the concept of supply and demand as a basis for the economic system because it's unethical.
 
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CrocodileX

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I personally believe that overcharging is unethical. It's my OPINION, not FACT. I've never said anything I've written is FACT. I've also not personally attacked anyone and said they have no understanding of business.

I wanted to start a discussion on ethics, it's something I felt was missing from this forum. More people are trying to correct my opinion and "educate" me than follow what the thread is about.

I know what brand value is. Doesn't mean I have to agree with it. I understand people will pay $50 for a shirt. Doesn't mean I have to agree with it. Wal-mart pays graveyard shift people $10.55 after 5 years, and there are people who take it. Doesn't mean I have to agree with it.

I started this discussion because ethics is OPINION oriented, not a pxssing contest on who knows Econ 101 the most. I was interested in other people's opinions and experiences with having to make ethical choices in regards to business. That's what this forum is for, right? Starting discussions? I posted this in the right category too, right? I don't understand why this has turned into a "THE OP IS WRONG AND DUMB" challenge when all I did was ask a question, and even provided my own personal experiences as it relates to being an entrepreneur to the discussion.
 
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CrocodileX

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Well, to be fair, you refuted the concept of supply and demand as a basis for the economic system because it's unethical.
What does that have to do with the topic? I asked about ethics, explained my personal stance on it, and still await those who will actually contribute constructively to the discussion instead of trying to tell me my personal opinion is wrong. I never refuted supply and demand, I said engaging in pricing at a level that I personally felt was too high was in my personal opinion, unethical. Charging $28 to my insurance company for a $5 meal is unethical, in my opinion. Who cares if someone will pay it. It results in higher premiums that citizens can't afford.

If this discussion is just gonna dissolve into people trying to validate themselves with meme pics from 4chan and off-topic know-it-allness, then I will just stop replying to those who have other reasons for making their presence known on this thread.
 

AllenCrawley

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wanted to start a discussion on ethics, it's something I felt was missing from this forum.
Actually there have been quite a few active and heavily debated threads about ethics here. Not really something that's been missing.
 

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There are some lines I will not cross.

I am a bit of a blackhat, but there are some things I refuse to do. There is a lot of black and gray areas when it comes to internet marketing, and some things I will not touch.

There have been opportunities where i could make 10's of thousands a month but I rather not cross a line.

Just to prove im not a saint though im having a bot built that will scrape every user on a website and auto message them across several proxies and break captchas.

Some would say this is unethical. I really dont see the harm in it as it is borderline spam, and isnt really hurting anyone. Others would say that it is lost revenue with the site and that I should have payed for a banner ad (Tried to go this route but the webmaster hasn't responded to several emails)

Everyone has their own ethical standards. People also make mistakes.
 

Lathan

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I was interested in other people's opinions and experiences with having to make ethical choices in regards to business.
Well in that case, why didn't you say so?
THE OP IS WRONG AND DUMB
I don't think you're dumb.

And yea, there are a few threads about ethics as mentioned. I would link you but computer is being slow when I open another tab. Use the search function.

EDIT: For the record, I have no idea why "case" is a link to headphones on amazon. I didn't link anything.
 
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CrocodileX

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Actually there have been quite a few active and heavily debated threads about ethics here. Not really something that's been missing.
They're missing from the main page of links. What does that have to do with my topic? Aren't you "staff"? Why are you playing the same game as the other off-topic posters? Is there anything you can contribute to the topic?
 
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CrocodileX

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There are some lines I will not cross.

I am a bit of a blackhat, but there are some things I refuse to do. There is a lot of black and gray areas when it comes to internet marketing, and some things I will not touch.

There have been opportunities where i could make 10's of thousands a month but I rather not cross a line.

Just to prove im not a saint though im having a bot built that will scrape every user on a website and auto message them across several proxies and break captchas.

Some would say this is unethical. I really dont see the harm in it as it is borderline spam, and isnt really hurting anyone. Others would say that it is lost revenue with the site and that I should have payed for a banner ad (Tried to go this route but the webmaster hasn't responded to several emails)

Everyone has their own ethical standards. People also make mistakes.

I love it! Thanks for your input!
 

AllenCrawley

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They're missing from the main page of links. What does that have to do with my topic? Aren't you "staff"? Why are you playing the same game as the other off-topic posters? Is there anything you can contribute to the topic?
Not playing a game here but it seems you have. I've contributed a lot to other threads on this same topic. Like to know my thoughts on it? Use the search function.
 

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