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Cheating and Lying is a Losing Strategy

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by Mike on August 10, 2013

I love sports. I’m not a very good athlete, but I sure love the distraction, fun, entertainment and sales and leadership lessons that sports offer. It’s supposed to be a great time of year to be a sports fan. Baseball season is approaching the home stretch and the NFL Preseason is getting into full swing.

As crazy as my work schedule is, I cherish the opportunity to turn off my brain and listen to Mike and Mike in morning or watch a few minutes of SportsCenter, or the NFL Network in the evening. But not the past few weeks! Sports headlines have been dominated by the ugly stories of prominent stars who’ve been caught cheating and then lying about it. Frankly, the exhaustive coverage of these cheaters and liars has been exhausting.

Johnny Moron (Manziel), the Heisman Trophy winner formerly known as Johnny Football, apparently has no regard or respect for the NCAA rules, and it looks like he’s in the process of destroying his credibility and career before stepping onto the field for his sophomore season. There’s no telling what this little autograph fiasco will cost him in the long run. Ryan Braun, former NL MVP, swore on his life that “these substances” never entered his body. His cheating was one thing, but his pathetic press conference (and what’s with that hair?) and bold-faced lies are what truly have destroyed his reputation. And there’s A-Rod. Alex Rodriguez, who not only has tarnished his legacy beyond any chance of repair, but has likely cost himself more than $75,000,000 in upcoming pay that he may never receive. Not to mention the giant asterisk that will now be placed by his remarkable career statistics. He’ll live in infamy as a cheater, next to Barry Bonds. Whatever good he achieved or numbers he put up during those times in his career when he may have been “clean” are meaningless. He will likely be mocked by baseball fans for the rest of his life and beyond.

So, what are our sales and sales leadership take-aways from all of this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

lance armstrongFor me, there are a few simple, yet powerful reminders:  It’s not worth it. Cheating isn’t worth it because, aside from being wrong, nothing is more valuable than your reputation. If you don’t have that, what do you have? Once you’re labeled as dishonest, that doesn’t go away. The salesperson who lies to a prospect will never be viewed as a value-creator or someone who has the customer’s best interests at-heart. No way. You may be forgiven, but you’ll never be perceived the same way again.

Have you ever been lied to by an executive, business leader or manager? Have you had promises made to you that were not fulfilled? I have, and I bet you have, too. Let me ask you: can you trust a leader who has lied to you in the past? Of course not. Once someone breaks trust, it’s over. Just yesterday, there was an article where Lance Armstrong was claiming that he had the right to lie in his autobiography. Please, Lance. Go away. At this point, the more you talk, the more we cringe. There is no getting back what you flushed away. No one likes to be played for a fool and you did that to us for a very long time.

So as annoying and angering as all this coverage of these cheaters and liars is, surely good will come from it. Hopefully, others will learn from the fall of these “heroes,” and many will be dissuaded from headed down similar paths.

Let’s do our jobs – the right way. If you’re tempted to cheat and lie, do yourself a favor and take a quick glance at the images of the fallen figures in this post. It’s not worth it; their sorry stories are proof.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Charles H. Green August 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm


It goes without saying you’re right (though I said it too. Just in case).

What’s interesting though is that as I read through this post, what really hit me was simply how powerful those stories are, in the aggregate. Those are tales of really great, talented athletes – people who could live on in history as respected, iconic names in their respective sports.

And in every case, as you point out, they have shot themselves in the foot. Face. Everywhere. And forever, too. Which is a very long time. Living in infamy. The giant asterisk. Being remembered as a cheater. Having your name be synonymous with ‘cheat’ and ‘louse,’ or being a punch line in a mean-spirited joke.

That’s what reputation means. And you don’t have to be A-Rod or Bonds or Pete Rose to feel the pain – we all have a reputation, and in our own circles, it can be as tarnished or burnished as they are. And after all, whose circles do we all care about? Our own.

We do indeed own our reputations, and they are far more within our control than we often think. Thanks for a great reminder of how valuable they are, and how short-sighted it is to paint outside the lines of the rules of the game.


Mike August 10, 2013 at 1:45 pm

You’re great. So articulate and eloquent. Reading your comment made me think I should have had you write this post. Love the way you just expressed what I was feeling. These guys didn’t need to do this (not that anyone needs to). They were already stars, already wealthy, already at the top. So silly and so costly. And I love your point that we all have reputations, which is what prompted me to write on this topic. Simply said, it’s not worth it. Sad stories.

Thanks so much for sharing,


Chris Johnson August 13, 2013 at 8:30 am

The problem with A-rod and Lance isn’t the drugs.
It’s the breaking of the rules for their sport.
It’s the machinations that they used to stay in the game.
It’s the lies, and cover ups.

The drugs, though are part of a drug war. We are meant to believe that “ALL DRUG ARE BAD” so we can perpetuate racism and incarcerate minorities for nonviolent crimes. This distinction must be made lest we become racist-by-proxy.


Mike August 13, 2013 at 11:22 am

Good morning and great to have you here. Thanks for commenting. I totally agree with your first point — that it’s about the cheating, not the drugs. It’s the cheating and then lying about it, for sure.

I am not tracking with your second point or the racism analogy – particularly because neither my post nor this issue has anything to do with race. In this article, we see the following cheaters and liars mentioned: a skinny older white dude, a Jew, a Hispanic, a black guy, and a young white clueless party animal spoiled-brat. If I only had mentioned some women track star cheaters and the Chinese who lie about their gymnasts ages, we’d have covered the gamut! So I’m just a bit confused about the leap from the lessons from cheaters using drugs to the claim about becoming racist by proxy.



Chris Johnson August 13, 2013 at 11:55 am

The general war on drugs is racism by proxy. The general attitude that we have that “OMG, DRUGS ARE BAD” creates myopia and allows us to have the highest per capita incarceration rate on earth.


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