I have just finished reading Tyler Hamilton’s book The Secret Race. Tyler was one of the top cyclists in the world a few years back and was on Lance Armstrong’s US Postal team in the late 1990’s. Lance, as most of you know, went on to win 7 Tour de Frances. Tyler and most of the other top cyclist of the era have now either been caught doping or have since confessed. Lance is the only major figure of the time to continue denying he did anything illegal. Tyler’s book confirmed to me what others had told me all along: all of the top cyclists were using illegal performance enhancing drugs and procedures to win races and make millions of dollars along the way.
So why was I in denial for so long? I guess I am someone who takes a man at his word. Lance had long proclaimed that he was the most tested man on the planet and that he was not about to risk his health doping after almost losing his life to cancer. Lance had made a tremendous impact on the world of cancer with his Livestrong Foundation, giving millions of dollars to cancer advocacy. When the yellow Livestrong bands came out, I was one of the first to put one on my wrist. It is still there…until today.
For those of you who know me, I am somewhat of a Lance freak. This picture of my office spells it out… a gold bike signed by Lance hangs like a piece of art next to my desk, and a signed Lance photo of the last day of his sixth Tour de France win greet me every morning. I have signed Lance jerseys thanks to my friend Dave Sanborn, and I once had Frankie Andrea, Lance’s former teammate, stay at my house. The seven years Lance won the Tour de France I was glued to the TV cheering his every move, and I was excited to see Lance win Sports Illustrated Athlete of the Year Award multiple times.
Over the last six months I have had a lot of people ask me about my yellow Livestrong wristband and what my thoughts were about the allegations against Lance. I would tell them that I believed a man was innocent until proven guilty, that Lance had done so much for the fight against cancer, that he was the most tested guy on the planet, and that I still believed. I guess I have been in denial.
Again, for those of you who know me, I am big into self help books and quotes. These quotes of wisdom are plastered on my refrigerator, my bathroom mirror, my office and in my mind. One past quote in particular rings true. The quote had a long list of things to do and not do in order to have a successful life. It ended with this; “Above everything else, live your life with a clear conscience”. The quote that Tyler Hamilton used to end his book was “The truth will set you free.”
So, what does any of this have to do with running a business? Here at Williams Company we talk a lot about our name and our reputation. We understand that when making good decisions, your name, who you are, and what you stand for, should be the first thing to consider. Because when we leave this earth, your good name is all you really have.