Ethics have always been super important to me, to a degree that has occasionally annoyed those around me. From putting myself in between a bully and his prey in elementary school to my many soapbox moments in high school, it shouldn’t be a surprise that when I went on to do a masters degree in philosophy, my thesis focused on ethics. This predilection came from two sources: mom and dad.
I talked a lot as a kid (still do), and my mom let me go on and on (and on). I would tell her everything about my day, and she wouldn’t just tune me out – she always listened and responded thoughtfully. My mom has a really strong moral compass, so I figured out quite young that I had to behave in a way that I would be proud to report back to her. I was rarely punished, but I remember very clearly the few moments where I felt really awful, and those were always after she said, “I’m really disappointed in you.” When I was fifteen, my mom quit her day job and pursued her passion, establishing Blue Ribbon Canine, a dog training school for “dogs, and the people who love them.” Her moral code became her business code, and she was rewarded with crazy loyal clients and staff.
My dad built his entire business without a high school diploma, relying solely on his name and reputation as a DJ, and he told me often: you only have one name. Therein lies source number two for my moral code: people will remember what you say and do. Once more, it was a matter of pride. Everyone I met, when I first started working in the event industry... the same industry where my dad works... would say, “oh you’re Harry’a daughter!” So, I knew that whatever I did of note would get back to him, and that people would remember me because they had this touchstone: Harry Kloda’s daughter.
When I started thinking about branding my heretofore referral-based business, about a year and a half ago, the first thing I wrote down was “kindness-based approach.” I felt really shy about sharing that with people, thinking it made me seem hippie dippy and not like I’m serious about my work. I kept it to myself, but I still wrote it on every single document I created about my business – it’s on every Trello board, it’s the first line of my half-completed mission statement, and now it’s in this blog post. When I decided to launch, I found a business coach who shared my vision, and in spite of many attempts from business bros to push me to put my bottom line first, I started to feel really good about this kindness-first approach. I started to find lots and lots of people doing this in their business, and it confirmed what I now know: you can be a good person and still succeed.
There are lots of ways I am learning how to be ethical in my business, and it goes way beyond how I treat my colleagues and clients. I can push to be more sustainable in an industry that is often really wasteful. I can encourage body positivity and eschew diet culture. I can avoid gossiping (a really hard one for me, as I’m super talkative and my industry thrives on referrals, but I’m working on it) and keep in mind that there are enough clients out there for all of us to succeed. Here’s proof: I looked at boosting a Facebook post this morning to women aged 22-35 in Montreal who got engaged in the last 3 months and there were 310 000 potential clients there! I actually think there might not be enough planners for all of them, and not the other way around.
I truly believe it’s possible to be bad-ass business person and still lead with my heart, because I watched two incredibly successful entrepreneurs in their respective fields, my mom and dad, do it that way.