Cowboy Ethics

There was a time when a person’s word was enough. You could sell the farm  on a handshake without worrying about whether the other side would follow through. But those were simpler times. These days, to get what was promised, you’d better have it in writing.

After this unethical climate occasioned the financial meltdown in 2008, 40-year Wall Street veteran James Owen knew something had to change. Society had gotten too far away from the days when right and wrong were black and white, and deals could be sealed with a handshake. Owen believed the key to long-term success was to revive those “cowboy ethics” embodied in the Code of the West (the rules that frontier cowboys lived and died by). His book, “Cowboy Ethics,” is now a ubiquitous coffee table-topper in offices across Wall Street, and is definitely worth a read if you have the time, but if you don’t, the 10 bedrock principles it promotes, a.k.a., the Code of the West, are as follows:

  1. Live Each Day With Courage
  2. Take Pride in Your Work
  3. Always Finish What You Start
  4. Do What Has To Be Done
  5. Be Tough, But Fair
  6. When You Make a Promise, Keep It
  7. Ride For The Brand
  8. Talk Less and Say More
  9. Remember That Some Things Aren’t For Sale
  10. Know Where To Draw The Line
It’s easy to see how “cowboy ethics” simplify business relationships by promoting trust, integrity and mutual respect. Indeed, in a world where everything must be in writing, the observance of this canon is a beacon of integrity. In closing, from profit maximization to passing the mirror test, Team Mojo recommends the Code of the West as sound business practice.


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