What The Heroes From September 11th Can Teach Us About Business & Ethics

13 years ago today we witnessed the most cowardly act in history. We responded with the most courageous response.

As I look back on the heroes from that fateful day and compare the purpose of their profession to the purpose of those in digital platform, most specifically the social media space, I can’t help but notice such a polarizing difference between those who use their profession for the sole purpose of helping others, compared to those people who use their profession to help themselves. Unfortunately, in my short time online and in the social media I have found that most people fall into the latter category. Why? It is simply too easy to hide behind a computer and say you are a hero.

Though I am all for free market and capitalism (without assigning myself to any bullshit party), let’s look at some glaring differences between operating offline where you cannot hide and what you see is what you get, compared to online, which is filled with smoke and mirrors and magic tricks… Most importantly, let’s look at ways we can fix it.


FACT: Firefighters, Policemen and women, EMT’s and others signed up for a job to HELP people… People in the Internet and social media pretty much help themselves for the most part.

FACT: I’ve never heard of a “police expert”, a “firefighter master” or a “ninja paramedic”… in social media and the Internet, nearly everyone seems to be guru or expert .

FACT: Firefighters, Policemen (& women), and the like cannot “pretend” to help people… social media and those in the online platform can, will and do on an every day basis.

FACT: Firefighters, Policemen (& women) and rescue workers can’t wear fake badges, and ribbons to show their level of accomplishment… people online simply buy those ‘badges’ every day.

FACT: The Police Commissioner or the President can and should be able to hand out the Silver Star or a Purple Heart… Those ‘credibility platforms’ like Klout and others that ‘determine one’s influence’ can kiss my a–.


If I sound a bit pissed, I apologize, but the truth is that I am… and I’m generally not a pissed off person. Not lately at least. It really has to do with the fact that this space I have entered is far from transparent… which makes me happy that I am not in it. Yes, I am not in it. Let me explain…

My business is not social media. I do not tell people how to use it, when to use it or where to use it. I use it at my own speed in my own way. I use social media as a tool to let people know what I’m doing in my real life. Yes, the one where I am not stuck behind a computer. I use social media to tell people about my experience as an entrepreneur. Not what I am great at… but what I failed at, but most importantly, the lessons I learned from the failures I made. I use social media to tell people about my homeless foundation. I use social media to tell people about the pains I have gone through… And I use social media to  offer help whenever and wherever possible.

Yes, I have to pay my bills so when I offer a 200-page book that took me twenty-two months to write, I have to charge for it. Yes, when I write a business prospectus I charge for it. And, yes, when I consult people on areas that I am actually helpful at, well, you guessd it… I charge for it. THE TRUTH IS  that I suck at most things and am only good at a few things, so the things I am good at I use to make a living. I don’t think that’s an unfair proposition. THE TRUTH IS I used to have enough money not to have to ever have look at a check but THE TRUTH IS, shit happens, and I lost my business. Yes I lost my business. In fact I have lost four businesses in my life. I have had six. Transparency. Ahhh… feels good doesn’t it? If you haven’t tried it I recommend it highly.

My point here is I do what I want to do. I go after what I want to go after. I love what I do… and I love to help people. I don’t care if you follow me on Twitter, as it is not important to my overall plight. I don’t think I’m going to look back on my life and judge my influence in life on how many Twitter Followers I had or my Klout Score… and if I do, I should probably take myself out to the cow pasture and shoot myself now… However I am in New York City and there isn’t a cow pasture in sight so I think I’m good.

A Few Questions For You

So I have a few questions for you … Are you being transparent? Are you offering something that people can actually benefit from? Are you being truthful? … Or are you full of shit?

Today, on this sacred day, just for this one day, promise me you won’t be full of shit.

If you say you teach people how to build traffic to their blogs but you have a 5 million Alexa, STOP. Just for today.

If you wrote a book about how you got from zero to 100,000 followers, and you actually bought 95% of those followers… STOP. Just for today.

If you tell people you are a ninja at making money, yet could not sell water in the middle of the desert… STOP. Just for today.

Be Respectful

Just for today, have a little respect for those people who didn’t fake it. People that couldn’t fake running up seventy floors of a building in hundreds of pounds of gear to save peoples lives.

Have a little respect for my friend Stanley who worked the piles as a Policeman separating the large body parts from the small ones to try to help identify the victims. Why? Because today he has PTSD and has locked himself inside his apartment as he has been for thirteen years afraid to go outside because he sees the buildings caving in on him.

At this very moment, I am listening to the names of the victims being read  and for the eleventh year in a row I am fighting to hold back my tears. And I am losing that fight again.

Using The Internet The Right Way

If you are choosing this platform as your profession, start looking at what you are doing and really evaluate yourself. Are you really trying to help people or are you faking the funk? If you are faking it, OK, shit happens. Now look at things objectively, take the mask off and try to see how you actually help. How you can provide value.

Social Media and the internet can help us or it can hurt us. It’s really up to the people that operate within this space who can control its destiny.

A Final Thought

I strongly suggest you take my suggestions because at the end of the day, you don’t want to look back on this experience and say, “Wow I was really full of shit. I provided no value. I helped no one. All I did was try to help myself… And I couldn’t even do that.”

Do something special today. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with others… And never forget that you are here because of people that couldn’t and wouldn’t ever fake who they were. Have some gratitude today and never forget.

Have a great day & NEVER FORGET,



“MJ takes a new and exciting approach on how to teach entrepreneurs.”

Daymond John
Co-host of ABC's, 'Shark Tank'

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