This is a metaphorical essay on personal ethics, worthy of a serious read and contemplation. When I saw the title I was intrigued but suspected it had something to do with Andy Grove’s adage, “sewage flows downhill,” which means “if anything bad happens it will eventually flow down to you.” This is about ethics. The points made here are particularly apt in light of the huge number and sheer scale of recent business frauds: the Volkswagen fraud, LIBOR, Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff’s pyramid scheme, Conrad Black in Canada, Olympus in Japan, Bernie Ebbers and Worldcom, Tyco International, stretching back all the way to Enron, Michael Milken’s junk bonds, and the 1980’s savings & loan debacle.


This is an area of animal and human behavior that has absolutely fascinated me. I believe that I have experienced this in my own life and career. If you simply believe strongly and achieve, the next round will become an even easier hurdle to climb. It is one of those things that seems to defy objective explanation.


This article has resonated with me, and my own personal epiphany. It came to me as a university student, sitting on the grass in the university common area. I suddenly realized that I was my own boss, and I no longer cared much what other people thought of me. As the author says here, it was a sense of calm, and a moment that not everyone achieves. It is a variation on my own tag line…”The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Once again, I find that the key factor is people skills.


The Wall Street Journal has highlighted this commencement speech, and I thought it so good, I had to share it here with my UBC Management students. It is at least as good as Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford commencement address, and it was also given in the same year, 2005.