46 Ethics Words of Wisdom: 2019

As the year wraps up, I want to give all my EthicalVoices readers an early Christmas or Hanukkah present – 46 ethics words of wisdom from the interviews I conducted over the past year. 

I end every interview asking my guest for the best ethics advice they received in their career. In no particular order, following are the quotes from the executives I interviewed. These are the quotes that have stuck with them. If you are interested in hearing more from them, check out their interviews.

  1. “One of the most important forms of compensation, to me, is who do I come to work with every day? Do I like the people I work with and work for? Do I like the clients I do work for and work with?” – Philip Tate
  2. “When in doubt, disclose.” – Joe Cohen
  3. “Do the right thing.” – Dave Close
  4. “Tell the truth and you’ll never have to remember what you said” – Mike McDougall
  5. “How would I feel if the people that I respect the most in my life knew about this decision or about this action?” – Elise Mitchell
  6. “When in doubt, leave it out. If your gut says no, don’t go.”- Steve Cody
  7. “Do not do to others what you would not want done to you” – Roger Friedensen
  8. “Be honest at all times. If you don’t know something, don’t embellish for the sake of others, and make up something” – Felicia Blow
  9. “Ethics is just this: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” – Kirk Hazlett 
  10. “Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice.” – Erica Salmon Byrne
  11. It is important to protect our credibility because it’s something that once you damage it, it’s very difficult to ever regain that trust and credibility. – Marlene Neill
  12. “Listen with intent to understand and then act” – Johna Burke
  13. “Be true to the values with which you were raised.”  – Deb Silverman
  14. “Would you be comfortable if what you were doing was appearing on the front page of the New York Times, assuming it was newsworthy?” – Michael Lasky
  15. “If you say you’re going to do something, then you follow through. You do the right thing, even if it’s painful. A handshake is a handshake, a promise is a promise, and your word is your bond.” – David Herrick
  16. “Learn the PRSA Code of Ethics” – Ana Toro
  17. “Be honest. Own it. Be transparent.” – Peter Shankman
  18. “Don’t ask yourself what’s some other leader or some other CEO would do in this situation. You should ask yourself first and foremost because you are the one who has access to all of the information and you are the one who has to close her own eyes at night.” – Beth Monaghan
  19. “Be true to your own values and not to your bank account and you should never ignore the voice in your head.” – Cheryl Procter-Rogers
  20. “Start right now saving what you call your freedom fund.”- Michael Smart
  21. “If you can explain it to your mom and justify it to your mom, you’re probably on pretty good ethical ground.” – Matt Kucharski
  22. “Be a skeptic” – Lou Capozzi
  23. “Tell the truth”- Fred Cook
  24. “Your ethics are who you are, not who you want to become.” – Gary McCormick
  25. “Share your cookies and toys.” – Patrice Tanaka
  26. “Just do the damn right thing” – Bonnie Upright
  27. “If anything goes wrong at school or in your life, we want to hear it from you first, not from a third party.”- Scott Monty
  28. “You have to have standards of behavior, and you have to always act within those standards of behavior, regardless of the outcome.” – Darryl Salerno
  29. “Do research right” – Katie Paine
  30. “Tell the truth” – Chris Penn
  31. “Do the right thing”  – Adam Ritchie
  32. “What if what you were doing was turned into a headline in the daily newspaper that your mother reads” – Mike Neumeier
  33. “The only way is the ethical way.” – Brandi Boatner
  34. “Appropriately overreact” – Kim Sample
  35. “Even if it’s hard, do the right thing.” – Joe Trahan
  36. “If feel something isn’t right, it probably is not right”- Angela Sinickas
  37. “We are not only there for our organizations, but we are there for society as professionals.”- Stacey Smith
  38. “Listen to your gut” – Mark Dvorak
  39. “Think and behave as a business leader, not as just a PR or comms person” – Torod Neptune
  40. “It’s never too late to do the next right thing.”  – Blake Lewis
  41. “You need to learn to think up, think at a higher level.” – Jim Lukaszweski
  42. “Nothing the truth can reveal will ever be worse than being caught in a lie.”- Marisa Valbona
  43. “A principle is not a principle until it costs you something to uphold it.”  – Tim O’Brien
  44. “Honesty is the best policy.” – Loring Barnes
  45. “Prepare your organization to tell the truth.” – Melanie Ensign
  46. “You can’t polish a turd” – Michelle Egan

I hope you enjoyed these 46 ethics words of wisdom. I look forward to bringing you even more in 2020.

Mark McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA
Follow Me
Mark W. McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the general manager of C+C's Boston office. C+C is a communications agency all about the good and purpose-driven brands. He has more than 20 years of tech and fintech agency experience, served as the 2016 National Chair of PRSA, drove the creation of the PRSA Ethics App and is the host of


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *