The Dozen Principles of Business Success

These are particularly relevant in this ‘anything goes, whomever has the biggest bucks, lie when you can” business world. They’re for politicians, doctors, lawyers, anyone that runs a business. These principles have guided me for many years.

Businesses are about relationships between people. Owners and their employees will develop reputations for being easy or difficult to work with: for delivering what is promised, or not, and for being ethical, or not. Bill Graham, my old boss, at Fillmore Management, used to say, “Be nice to people on the way up, because you may need them on the way down.’

  1. Commit to making the business succeed. Without 100% commitment, the motivation to overcome challenges will erode.
  2. Work hard and provide leadership.
  3. Develop personal relationships with the people your business works with. Cultivate long-term relationships: they will earn you trust and good-will.
  4. Make it easy for people to associate and do business with you.
    1. Show up for gigs and appointments on time
    2. Keep promises you make.
    3. Return phone calls or respond to emails in a timely manner.
    4. Pay your bills on time. If you cannot, call people up and explain your situation.
    5. Be kind to secretaries and receptionists.
    6. Do not waste people’s time. State what you want succinctly and politely
    7. Say ‘thank you’ frequently. Forgive easily.
    8. When you make a mistake, apologize.
    9. Cultivate positive attitudes.
  5. Provide value-added services to people that you to business with. It could mean giving away something for free or giving advice and mentoring.
  6. Treat your employees courteously; pay them a fair wage; be appreciative of their good work; and when you can afford it, reward them with bonuses and other benefits. They will repay you with loyalty and hard work. Training new employees costs time and money.
  7. Listen to others; find out what is important to them; listening, even to criticism, costs nothing, and you might learn something valuable by not being defensive,
  8. Ask for and invite advice. Good advice is invaluable Feedback is important, even when it is negative. Receive advice and criticism with enthusiasm and graciousness.
  9. Do every job and gig as though it were for the kingpins of your industry.
  10. Keep track of your money. Negotiate prices and services. Keep debts to a minimum.
  11. Cultivate a good reputation. Leadership in ethics, will be rewarded many times over in loyalty in people speaking well of you and dealing fairly and ethically with you.
  12. Give something back to the industry that fed you. Share information with others. Donate time or money to worthwhile causes. Count your blessings and help those that are less fortunate.


Bundy Siege: Writing for Cause and Love

Bundy Siege: Writing for Cause and Love

I wrote a series of blogs about the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon for love and cause. Love for the refuge and the wild creatures it holds and for my adopted home of ten years. Fury with the lawlessness and arrogance of insurgents who held the refuge and our town hostage for over 41 days and caused a great deal of financial and emotional stress.

Some of what I learned from the ‘occupation’ is that writers, musicians and fine arts painters and sculptors are not the only ones that are disenfranchised, make pittance wages and hold day jobs to support our art. The insurgents are also disenfranchised—except they use bullets and guns to uphold their causes and tear down the system of laws that we have. Unfortunately, all too many people that are disenfranchised turn to shame and blame (it’s the government’s fault; the corporation’s fault; my father’s fault (or maybe my mother’s)—time to get a gun. They need to evolve beyond the rhetoric of hate and fear and the destructive polarities that result.

Art and Money

Most ‘cultural creatives’ that I know don’t work for money. The few that have prominence and fame may make a living, but they also pay a price. Kesha’s price was sexual harassment. It took a lot of bravery to come forward and put it out in the open, challenging both Dr, Luke, her producer, and her record label, which holds her contract hostage. Having worked in the music business as an artist’s manager for Bill Graham, arguably the godfather of rock ‘n roll concerts, I knew many women—artists and professionals whose careers were helped by f,,,king their way upstairs. (And so did many movie and TV stars etc).

Most of us never make a living at our art. Writing never brought me more than a pittance, except when my clients who either manufactured scientific instruments or did remediation of soil and groundwater would pay me to write case history articles for industry magazines. That was my ‘day job’ and it helped me write my books: Home Sweet Jerome: Death and Rebirth of Arizona’ Richest Copper Mining City for love; and How to Make and Sell Your Own Record for both love and cause. The latter enfranchised a lot of musicians by helping them learn the rules of business, kept genres of music alive that major labels by and large rejected, such as bluegrass, Cajun and TexMex and helped them supplement their day jobs. A few made it into the big time, like Loreena McKennitt, who wrote the forward to the last revision of my book, which I deeply appreciated.

Writing for Cause

My favorite writers these days write for cause: Terry Tempest Williams and Katie Lee to preserve wilderness; Chuck Bowdoin (Charles Bowdoin) to expose white collar crime on the border, especially within the drug trade; Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben for raising our awareness about climate change; Svetlana Alexeivich to expose the terribly sad consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

I’m publishing a book in a few months called Adulterer’s Wife: How to Thrive Whether You Stay or Leave by my friend C.J. Grace. It’s a great book on an emotional disaster that many women, including myself, have experienced and often mishandled. Will it make her or me money: the odds are way against it. We’re doing it for cause and for love.

Perhaps a great book will come out of the siege in Harney County. There has been some great writing already by Oregonian journalist Les Zaitz and OPB’s Amanda Peacher; by University of Oregon geologist Peter Walker; and an essay by Hal Herring In High Country News. Zaitz said the siege drew out some of his best writing. and (search on Malheur refuge). They have written a lot of articles.

I wish them well.

The photographer of the featured image of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is by Steve Terrill, a renowned Oregon photographer. His work has been featured in many magazines, including AudobonNational Geographic Publications and Travel and Leisure. The photograph is used with permission from Thank you.