The 2002 Winter Olympic games was won from the experience gained by losing the 1998 bid to Japan. The Utah bid committee had spent over $16 million on the 1998 Olympic bid. Later analysis implied that they had been out “gifted” by the Japanese. The Nagano Japan region’s governor said the city had provided $4.4 Million in just entertainment costs alone to win the bid. The 2002 bid committee made an adjustment.
For the 2002 bid, the Utah bid committee played by the new rules they thought were necessary to win. When the press learned that the Utah Bid Committee had paid the tuition for one of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) member’s children, an investigation followed. The result was the 2002 Winter Olympic Scandal and the negative media fallout ruined many careers and reputations and nearly the 2002 Games. Yet, in the end there was nothing illegal done.
There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Those were the first words from my economics professor at Oregon State on the first day of class. Everything has a price, and nothing is ever free. Accepting gifts are not really gifts at all, unless the giver expects nothing in return. That is why anonymous gifts expose the givers true purpose, and open public gifts expose the givers intent as well.
Obviously, all gifts are not bad. So when does a gift become inappropriate?
A gift is inappropriate when the giver is expecting something in return, and the receiver accepts the gift knowing he will need to use resources that he does not own, but has been entrusted with, in order to complete the exchange. For example, a Computer sales person from “Acme Computers” takes an IT leadership to an expensive baseball game, and while there he gives them expensive baseball jerseys from the home team. Later that month, the IT leader announces he is switching the company to Acme computers. Of course the purpose of the switch will be camouflaged with price and technical reasons. Unfortunately now, no matter what reasons are given, the gift has muddied the water at a minimum, and bias to repay the exchange has definitely played its inappropriate part.
The psychology of inappropriate gifts is always directed towards those who are entrusted with large resources that are not their own, such as the IOC members and the bid for the 2002 Olympic games. The gifts became an inappropriate factor in the decision with entrusted resources. Even if the Acme Computers systems were better and cheaper, as in the previous example, the buying and selling of such loyalty is wrong. Its a subtle type of corruption. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. I think this is a great quote on this subject.
I received a letter in my office this week from a company offering me two free airline tickets to Florida and a 7 day Carnival cruise. You can bet they will want something for their investment, and what they want is not for sale. Believe me, there is no such thing as a free lunch! Credibility has a price, and those who sell it for trinkets and in this case airline tickets and a cruise, will erode their credibility and characters. The two critical components of leadership!
Its about the people!
John E Tanner