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US Faces Same Small Business Challenges

ConstitutionNOTE TO READERS: I was talking with Adam Lehman earlier this week, and he asked me a question that basically boiled down to “How do you handle being a highly visible person, while being true to yourself (which could sometimes not sit well with others)?” It got me thinking. This post is the result. It’s NOT a political post. The first part is context, so keep reading. You may get something out of it. 

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States (#SCOTUS) has delivered several decisions on monumental cases before them (see Shelby County v. HolderDennis Hollingsworth, et al., v. Kristin M. Perry, et al. and United States v. Edith Schlain Windsor, In Her Capacity as Executor of the Estate of Thea Clara Spyer, et al.). Each of these cases addressed issues that have been reviewed over a number of years and in numerous cases. Each has long-term implications on our country. Most importantly, each says something about who we are as a country and who we want to be.

On Tuesday, #SCOTUS declared part of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), which was first adopted in 1965 (and extended many times since), which codified the 15th Amendment’s guarantee that no one would be denied their right to vote based upon their color or their race and which is generally considered the most successful piece of legislation ever adopted by the US Congress, were no longer representative of the current conditions in the US and that formulas previously used to determine jurisdictions that needed to demonstrate a higher threshold of protection needed to be examined and updated.

Wednesday, #SCOTUS announced that The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional based upon the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This struck down the definition of marriage to include only one man and one woman, saying that separate systems (e.g., civil unions vs. marriage) are not equal.

These decisions are certainly controversial, and many of you may disagree on whether the right decisions were made. Regardless of where you fall on the issues, here’s my point:

The United States claims it stands for a few things – its values – and the government has written those values down in documents like the Constitution, the Amendments, and the federal laws the Congress passes and the President signs. This week, like every other week, the US has been challenged to be authentic – to live our values, to align what we do with what we say.

Similarly, every day, business owners have to live their values. They have to voice who they are, how they are different from their competitors and then demonstrate it in their interactions with customers. They are challenged to be who they say they are – to live their values – every day of every week or risk having their customers choose another product/service provider.

Whether for our country or for business owners (regardless of size), living our values is not easy, but living our values does differentiate us. Our values are the biggest way for people to tell they’re shopping at Apple rather than Dell, or to know they’re living in France rather than Russia (aside from the language difference).

Here are two questions for your consideration:

  1. How did the country do in living its values this week?
  2. More importantly, how did you (and your company, if you own one) do in living your values this week?

If you want to share your thoughts below (in a respectful manner), feel free. I look forward to reading them. I hope this week you found a way to demonstrate that who you say you are is exactly who you are.


PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr Creative Commons Mr. T in DC

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