In Compliance Messaging, Let’s Accentuate the Positive

spirit of positivity

The mindset of the entrepreneur is optimism. Entrepreneurs truly seek out the opportunity in every challenge and obstacle. I saw the pandemic prompt so many clients and other entrepreneurs work eagerly to answer the following question: “Well this sucks — how do I make money from it?!”

There’s much to be won by applying the same entrepreneurial spirit of positivity to compliance training.

A positive approach accentuates, within the content of the training, the chance to grow and profit from education and elevated behavior. LeadGood applied that approach to great effect, for example, in ESG and Digital Transformation training for corporate directors that we just helped build with NACD. Don’t think of these mega-trends as barriers, we emphasized; think of them as opportunities to do important things better and differentiate your organization in the marketplace, i.e., a way to profit.

A positive approach shows typical people doing the right thing and correctly following compliance protocols and processes. I think this gets to the heart of what most working adults actually want from compliance training. They (our audience) are less focused on, “What’s the right thing?” — they think they get that. What they want to know is, “How do you expect me, with all the time and competitive pressures I face, to actually DO the right thing?” They don’t want to hear about risks; they want recipes.

A positive approach to training normalizes constructive and compliant behavior. Hold this in contrast to what has been seen in typical anti-bias training which, studies have demonstrated, can counterproductively normalize biased behavior. It turns out that when learners see repeated examples of people doing the wrong thing, it leaves them with an unconscious and undesirable impression that everybody does the wrong thing. So show the right thing!

And a positive approach to training feels, well, positive. It’s good news, rather than the doom and gloom of risk and sanction. Just think of some of the risk-focused training you may have experienced and ask yourself, “Why would anyone want to complete this training?!”

Finally, while enjoying last week’s webinar from the new initiative APW, I realized another big advantage in compliance training that takes a positive approach. Opportunity-centric training can help to build a culture of wellness around compliance. It can reduce the inherent stress on the compliance team of focusing on wrongdoing and risks, and of being seen as the buzz kill squad. If Compliance is seen by the organization as a source of opportunity and good news, therefore, it can lead not only to a more compliant and healthy organizational culture; it can also lead to a healthier compliance team.

The Legacy of Masters

Twenty-one years ago: Tiger Woods wins his second Masters, and is awarded the Green Jacket from previous winner Vijay Singh. Photo AFP

Today is the 21st anniversary of Tiger Woods’ 2001 win at the Masters. Which means today I also mark the 21st anniversary of my father’s death.

Sylvan H. Meyer actually died on April 8, 2001, but to us his Yahrzeit is Masters Sunday, because Dad passed in his Georgia mountain home just an hour after he watched Tiger on TV win his second Green Jacket, and that was poetic in two ways.

The Masters was one of Dad’s favorite times and places. Starting in the 1940s, he and ten or so of his north Georgia buddies would travel across the state to spend Masters Week in Augusta. They called themselves the Chicken Pluckers. They’d rent a house, play golf most mornings, go to the tournament in the afternoons, and at nightfall asleep earlier than they meant to. They weren’t wealthy; they were Greatest Generation guys doing alright. My Dad cooked the dinners – which was amazing to me because he pretty much never cooked at home.

And in 1984, when I was in law school, one of the regular Chicken Pluckers couldn’t make it and I was invited to make the pilgrimage. It remains one of my most cherished memories – the staggering beauty of the course, the cordial chat of the players, a kitchen full of Ruffles and Pecan Sandies. I remember sitting with Dad behind the 14th green, in a lull between approach shots, when he softly suggested that I maybe ought to marry that girl I’d been dating. Unbeknownst to him, I had proposed to Tracy not 24 hours earlier – and the last 37 years have proven that Dad’s editorial opinion was, as usual, on the money.

His editorial opinions are the second part. Sylvan Meyer was the first Editor In Chief of the daily newspaper in Gainesville, Georgia, where I was born. Throughout the 50s and 60s, from our small city, he covered the Civil Rights movement and advocated and editorialized for integration. He was one of a cadre of Southern newspaper journalists – mostly Jewish – speaking up for the cause. They did so because it was right and just, but also I think out of loyalty to their region, to build a ”New South.”

Still, the legacy of segregation created some cognitive dissonance for Dad when it came to the Augusta National, something I feel again about my native state this spring. So when Tiger Woods became the first Black Man to win the Masters in 1997, it was a thrilling victory for my Dad. And when Tiger cemented his Augusta immortality by winning again and capping the “Tiger Slam” on that Sunday 21 years ago, well, maybe it felt to Dad like a vindicating time to close the loop.

Lee Elder receives the applause of fellow Masters Honorary Starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Photo from Golfweek.

In Dad’s honor (and yeah, because I love it), I religiously watch the Masters. And I smiled this week when Augusta National invited 86-year-old Lee Elder, who broke the color barrier at the Masters, to be the Honorary Starter at this year’s tournament. It was a small reassurance that the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend toward justice, but that our institutions may need a little love, help and patience to get there – from loyal critics like my Dad, and from those of us who work to guide our organizations to ethics, compliance, and doing the right thing.

Sometimes what we do to encourage people in our organizations to speak up works, and often it doesn’t. We’re discussing what makes that difference all this month on the Eight Mindsets Cohort, and sharing those lessons in the Eight Mindsets Podcast. I hope you’ll join, or listen to, the discussion.

Ethics Madness 2022!

ncaa soccer ball sports ethics madness 2022

I hereby swear and affirm, with actual knowledge of penalties for perjury, that we are in the midst of the best week of sports on the annual calendar. The NCAA men’s and women’s Final Fours. The Masters golf tournament. The end of the NBA regular season. The opening of the baseball season. (Slap, I even skipped the Oscars to watch the Saudi Grand Prix on DVR.)

So if you are a compliance educator/junkie, and a rabid sports fan, where does your mind go while watching all this wonder? That’s “Ethics Madness!

#EthicsMadness was born about 10 years ago, when LeadGood was young and I was searching for a professional excuse to spend a business afternoon watching the first-round games of March Madness. The idea: get some compliance buddies together and conduct a live blog during the games, where we could talk shop and talk hoop, commenting on the conduct of the games as frequently as we commented on the unfortunate cultural messages being sent by commercials and errant sports organizations.

For 2022, #EthicsMadness has moved to the podcast format and is the setting for a special “crossover“ episode of The Eight Mindsets podcast and the podcast “Greetings and Felicitations,“ a title hosted by Tom Fox through his well-known Compliance Podcast Network. We have recorded it, and posted it, and IMHO I think it’s a lot of fun.

In the podcast, Tom and I discuss the ethics and compliance takeaways from recent events in sports such as:

  • The debacle that was the ending of last year‘s Formula One season (procedural justice)
  • Russian figure skating in the international Olympic committee (Organizational reputation)
  • Women’s March Madness (gender equity and DEI)
  • Juwan Howard and the punch heard round the Big Ten (appropriate sanctioning and culture-building rituals)

Now join the madness! Check it out wherever you hear your podcasts.

Listen on Spotify:

Listen on Apple Podcasts:

Google Podcasts:

Article: Training And Communications That Encourage Reporting

Image of magazine article

For years, LeadGood has broken new ground on training and communications that moves the needle on reporting. Our bespoke courses, innovative approaches and hands-on consulting have helped many organizations and leaders — from the Fortune 100 to government to education — effectively foster a speak-up culture.

This new article by LeadGood President Jason Meyer and Amy McDougal, JD, CCEP, CA of CLEARESOURCES, LLC, published by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE), summarizes some of what we’ve learned.

For national panel, Meyer discusses our freedom to speak up in the current popular culture.

I’m a big supporter of being assertive and speaking up. I’m a former journalist in a family of journalists. I started out as a first amendment lawyer. And as a compliance professional I work to help businesses encourage speaking-up in their ranks, as a powerful tool for both operational and ethical excellence. (So I’m super proud of my new article on training that encourages reporting, written with Amy McDougal, JD, CCEP, CA for the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics.)

But I am not a big fan of terms like “cancel culture.” These days there are soap boxes aplenty. The issue is more, who is really listening? And is that talk seeking truth, or just victory? It’s complicated, right?

These were the topics I was proud to discuss with an insightful, civil and politically diverse panel that tried to get to the heart of our freedom to speak up in the current environment. The panel was presented by Thomson Reuters on March 25, 2021. This is the second time TR honored me with a request to talk about this critical topic.

Virtually excited for the 2020 Compliance and Ethics Institute

This week – Sept. 14-16 — Is the annual Compliance and Ethics Institute sponsored by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE), of which I am a proud member. I been on the faculty of the Institute for each of the last seven years, and I am not about to miss the #CEI this year just because the event is virtual. It’s a highlight of my year!

Here’s what I am talking about this year:

Monday, September 14, 5:00 PM CDT: “The Trouble with Moral Relativism”I’ll be leading an advanced discussion group at the SCCE Institute about the attitudinal trends represented in increasingly popular thoughts like, “It’s all good,” or “Who can tell – they’re all lying.” We’ll talk about whether this growing normative agnosticism creates unstable ground beneath the foundation of corporate compliance programs and any attempt at ethical leadership.

Tuesday, September 15, 10:15 AM CDT: “Speak-Up Success: Training and Communications to Truly Encourage Reporting and Reduce Retaliation.” – I will lead this workshop at the Institute, along with Amy McDougal and OSI’s Chris Cook about practical and effective ways to generate a Speak-up Culture.

And by the way: If my Compliance and Ethics Institute remarks sound interesting to you, then tune in to my next “Powering the Pandemic Pivot” webinar, Wednesday, September 24, 12:00 Noon ET, where I’ll try to share what I learn at this year’s Institute about fostering Company Culture.

Hope you can join us!

A Greeting Card for Businesses in the Time of Coronavirus

We have a timely present for your business or organization.

I was chatting last week with several of my good friends in the compliance sector: Nicole Rose of CreateTraining, the Australia-based education and training company that has produced several powerful animations for LeadGood clients; Richard Bistrong of CEO Front-Line Anti-Bribery LLC, the well-known anti-bribery consultant and speaker; and my frequent colleague and project partner Amy McDougal, JD, CCEP, of CLEAResources, a leading compliance program consultant. We share a deep belief, borne of professional experience, in the power of shared values to inspire people to do great things.

We found we also shared a desire to use what we do at work to somehow help organizations respond to the Coronavirus in a different, honest, but inspiring way — acknowledging that we are in it for the long-haul, and that for as long as it takes, we will have each others’ backs.

The result is this video, which we now offer to you to use as much as you want, however you see fit. Think of it as a video greeting card you can send to your teams, clients, and community. Consider yourself licensed to use it as you wish, to shorten it, to add your own message or logo, to make it yours – please distribute it as broadly as you’d like, just keep the credits at the end. (Nicole is happy to do edits, etc., if you wish, and even to change the voiceover from my voice to her Australian lilt.)

If you want to use this video and need help downloading the file, just contact me and I’ll be delighted to assist.

We hope this video helps your business say what you’re thinking to the people you care about, and and it helps us all stay steadfast.

People Power: A Greeting Card for Organizations to Share Some Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Goin’ Back… to SCCE

I’m excited and honored to have been asked once again by the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics to serve on the faculty of its Annual Compliance and Ethics Institute, outside Washington DC.

On Tuesday morning, September 17, Amy McDougal and I will update and reprise our presentation on “Compliance by Contract – Drafting and Negotiating Terms for Peer-to-Peer Compliance.” (It was a big hit when we last did it a few years back.) When you negotiate a commercial contract that includes terms about compliance — whether with customers, contractors, vendors or suppliers — the right terms can boost your own C&E program, and the wrong terms can undermine it. So we’ll share our experiences as lawyers and compliance pros, exchange pitfalls and engage in facilitated exercises. The goal: getting everyone better at closing good deals that support great compliance programs

Then on Wednesday, September 18, I’ll be leading a workshop on Counseling Compliance in Small to Medium Sized Organizations. which make up 97% of US companies. We will explore the unique challenges (and opportunities) of compliance leadership in SMBs — and nonprofits and governments — where budgets and headcount are limited, processes informal, and executive power dominant. The workshop will take place from 10:15 to 11:45.

If you work in compliance or ethical leadership, you’ll get a real charge from the colleagues and camaraderie at #SCCEcei. Hope you can see it!

Ethics Madness II: Meet the Panel

Here is the impressive panel of contributors for our Live Blog today at LeadGood Live! Amazingly impressive. Like I can’t believe they wanted to do this. Like I hope they will speak to me tomorrow.

Matt Kelly, President of Radical Compliance, and former Editor and Publisher of ComplianceWeek. @compliancememe

Tom Fox, Lawyer, FCPA expert, blogger and podcaster. FCPA Compliance Report @tfoxlaw

Richard Bistrong Anti-bribery expert and speaker, and leader of Front Line Anti-Bribery LLC @richardbistrong

Amy McDougal Compliance consultant and independent corporate monitor — and my frequent partner on projects and seminar panels. President of CLEAResources, LLC. @EthiVenger

Dan Day Fellow sports fan and AVP of Communications at Princeton University. His comments and appearance here are unofficial and are not on behalf of our mutually beloved Black and Orange. @danielday

Special Guest: John Templon Sports and Data Reporter for Buzzfeed. His most recent major work uncovers the nationalistic favoritism among ice skating judges at the Olympics: @jtemplon

Ethics Madness II – A dandy excuse to talk ethics and watch hoop

I greet the college basketball championships this year with mixed emotions. As a hoop fan, this is a highlight of the calendar. As an ethics and compliance professional considering the current pay-for-recruitment scandal at several leading schools, well, what a mess.

But from both perspectives, Tom Fox and I have decided to mark the beginning of “March Madness” with a reprise of our live web-chat we call, “Ethics Madness.”

LeadGood will host this “live blog” panel discussion on our LeadGood Live! page on Friday afternoon March 1

6, starting at 2 PM (Eastern) and going until 6:00 (at least). Join me, Tom FoxMatt Kelly, and other guests as we discuss current issues in compliance and ethics, including compliance in sports and education, and sports as a metaphor and lesson for corporate C&E efforts, as well as the cultural messages about ethics and compliance that a typical NCAA viewer is receiving – in the ads, during the games, and real-time in social media.

We might talk about other E&C topics. And judging from last time, we’ll talk a little hoop, too!

And throughout the tournament, let’s all resolve to share our E&C thoughts by using the hashtag #EthicsMadness.

Face it, you want a way to watch the First Round afternoon games without feeling guilty. So here it is! (But follow us even if you’re stuck at your desk – I’ll be sure to pass along the key scores along with our pithy, pointed, and (I hope) useful thoughts.)

Join the conversation at ( and #EthicsMadness