Words vs. Deeds
“Words have no relation to action otherwise what kind of diplomacy is it? Words are one thing: actions another. Good words are a mask for concealment of bad deeds. Sincere diplomacy is no more possible than dry water or wooden iron.”
When assessing a company or a man data nothing can be more misleading than words. We are never better than when we are on paper, and we are never more convincing than when making a presentation. I remember a recent conversation with an entrepreneur, as he recalled his big deals.
It was going to be great, a real moneymaker, but someone with more money and clout stepped in.
It was all set up for sale and my partners dropped the ball.
I know I was a defendant, and I lost, it was just lucky lawyering on the other guy’s part.
I know this man, and he has made a lot of money over the years on many different projects, so when he asked for help, I took a look. As I did my homework on the entities he controlled, reviewing the decisions and errors that were made, they all landed right in his lap. Yet, despite overwhelming evidence, he still maintained that it was someone else’s fault. Take two. I set him and his new project up with an audience. His presentation goes well and everybody’s questions were answered. He gave a convincing presentation, including many facts, and he embellished by stating that he was the only person who could make this project work. He dwelled on compliance and accounting issues, and how everything had to be just right. But I knew there was a problem ‐‐ he hadn’t filed personal tax returns in over ten years.
He kept repeating the need for compliance, compliance, and compliance – and he never once added, oh, and by the way, I’m not compliant. A clear division between words and deeds. The problem was twofold – his plan was a complex engineering project that required real management skills and multiple disciplines to pull off. A real management team was never assembled, and no help was recruited ‐‐ because the people he needed were too expense, and he could do it himself. Maybe he could do both the work and the science himself ‐‐ but there are only so many days in a week, and he had filled all eleven of them. Thus, another forced split between words and deeds, over‐promise and under‐deliver. I did help him, but from within the context of what I knew. I put together a proposal that included outside funding, external experts, additional management, and a review process. His answer to the proposal was “You’re stealing my project from me.” The assembled team and I sat in numb silence. We failed to realize the fatal flaw from the beginning. His words and deeds were incongruent. Upon this realization, we should have stopped. The quote at the beginning? V.I. Lenin