Blue Highways Journey – Episode 15 – Truthfulness

Adam Steele was frustrated. He and his VP of Marketing were late for their first curiosity conversation on their trip through big sky country. Jerry Dawkins was always late, and this time his excuse was just as lame as always.

When they met Bob Waters, Jerry offered an apology for being late. Bob looked at him and said: “Let me tell you what my dad taught me: ‘All excuses are lies’. Sorry we don’t make excuses in this part of the country. Now let’s start.” 

Adam was embarrassed but was excited to talk with Bob on their way to a livestock auction. “What you’ll see with this auction, you will probably not see in other auctions,” Bob explained. “We ask all of our sellers to provide full disclosure on the animals they’re selling. You can read those in the auction handout we will be getting.” 

“That seems like a great idea but also a temptation to stretch the truth,” asked Adam. 

“We wouldn’t last very long if we weren’t honest. That’s just the way we are.” 

Adam and Jerry were thoroughly enjoying the auction. And then came the pivotal moment of the day when the auctioneer said: “We are now moving to the sale of livestock from the Copeland family, and I’d like to read a note they gave me.”

The note said:

“As most of you know, our family has fallen on tough times. We’re not asking for your sympathy, but we know we are vulnerable. Please be fair and don’t lower your bids because you know we must sell. Thank you.”

As the auction continued, Bob said to Adam and Jerry: “They are getting really good prices. Openness is highly valued around here. No one wants to hurt that family.” 

Adam and Jerry continued their journey and found the honesty to be refreshing. One thing that Adam especially enjoyed was reading the local weekly papers. One article especially drew his attention.

Science Class Attacks Misleading Food Labels – the article was about a chemistry class that had examined food labels of several prominent manufacturers. They were especially interested in the use of labeling, which they found in many cases to be misleading or even fraudulent.

The article contained the letter sent to one food company along with their scientific basis for the fake labeling.  The analysis was certainly impressive. The article also contained the response from the company which in summary was an excuse for the false label, blaming it on the legal system.

Adam looked at Jerry and said: “Bob was right. All excuses were lies. I want you to scrub all of our product claims and advertising. As you look at everything we use to promote our products do it through this lens: “Why might that be a lie?”

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“Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now – always.”
– Albert Schweitzer

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