When I was at senior school, Terry Shields, who I thought at the time, was a god, finished my last ever assembly, after I’d done my GSCE’s, with the phrase “It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice”. I’ve come back to the phrase many times in my life, sometimes when it’s suited me to say “I’m being nice, aren’t I great” and sometimes to say “They aren’t being nice, they are bad people”. I’m over simplifying this, I know, but it’s come up again in the this week.
On Monday I spoke with someone who I respect about being nice in business – being straight, ethical and making money honestly and not shafting people on your way up the greasy pole. They were saying that being nice is very important and I said I was tired of it, frankly, as I don’t want people to think I’m a soft touch. Someone wrote something on twitter about me a couple of months ago and I let it go – people have commented to me since that they were surprised at my not coming out all guns blazing. The person I was talking to reminded me that people doing business nicely also end up having good home lives – fulfilled, happy, and with family orientated lives. I couldn’t disagree with that.
So it’s with mixed feelings that I saw Tom win the apprentice tonight. People said he was too nice. I even tweeted that I think he’s a bit of a wet lettuce. But you know what? My opinion doesn’t matter because he’s got his funding and he’s got Lord Sugar as a business partner. And Lord Sugar has seen them all. I think he wanted to choose the other girl but simply couldn’t because of her weak plan, so he was a second choice in some respects. But other than that, he could have picked the “sales man” or the “entrepreneur woman that had too many zero’s in her business plan”. Instead, Lord Sugar went for a nice guy, with a business idea that needed lots of work and could succeed.
So maybe being nice isn’t such a bad thing after all? What do you think – is it more important to be nice, or important?
*Image courtesy of anicechange.com