[ The Money Side of Lifeā„¢ ]

Staying Honest: Encouragement in hard times

By Bryan Sims on May 1st, 2009 •

Some days, remaining positive is easier said than done. That's especially true when people are losing their jobs, homes and retirements.

It's in times like these that true character is tested. People seem more willing to bend rules, and companies cut corners on ethical issues. Some companies try to avoid an increase in unemployment costs by claiming laid-off workers are ineligible for unemployment benefits, or executives accept millions of dollars in compensation when employees are barely scraping by or being let go. Scams and schemes abound, from multi-billion dollar Ponzi schemes to a cab driver who tried to stiff me a couple bucks last week.

I encourage you to hold the line. Don't compromise on your ethics and values in these difficult times. It is too easy to cut the little corners that eventually lead to bigger ethical dilemmas.

It's also easy to focus on the negative stories in times like these, but it's important that we tune them out and look to ones that can encourage us and help shape the way we look at life.

With that in mind, I've compiled a few resources, movies, books, and videos that I look to for motivation and inspiration when I feel challenged. I hope they're just as uplifting for you. And while it pales in comparison to the stories shared below, I hope that my story about creating brass might inspire you to pursue your passion. Check it out at story.brassmedia.com.

Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech, 2005

Apple CEO Steve Jobs talks about doing what you love. To find the video, search "Steve Jobs Stanford" on YouTube.

Dick and Rick Hoyt, aka Team Hoyt

Team Hoyt has competed in hundreds of races--from short runs to ironman competitions--but what sets them apart is that Rick has cerebral palsy, and Dick has pushed and pulled Rick with him every step of the way. Check out their amazing story at teamhoyt.com and search YouTube for videos.

Kristin Elliott

When the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted teenage cancer patient Kristin Elliott, she asked for help to build an AIDS orphanage in Africa. With $2,600 in seed money, she has since completed the funding for the orphanage, and is using continuing donations to add a wing to a nearby hospital. Search "person of the week Kristin Elliott" at abcnews.com for videos on her story.

The Pursuit of Happyness, by ChrisGardner

In this book, popularized by a 2006 Will Smith film based on the story, Chris Gardner shares his struggle with homelessness, a young son, and an entry-level position at a prestigious financial firm. Visit Gardner's website at chrisgardnermedia.com.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers

This book shares the story of 22-year-old Dave Eggers becoming guardian of his 8-year-old brother after the death of their parents. Search for it at bookbrowse.com for reviews and an excerpt.


TED is an organization that hosts an annual conference bringing together great thinkers and doers to share ideas that can change the world. Watch more than 200 of their amazing talks online at ted.com.

If you know of another story that inspires or motivates you, send it to me and we'll try to include it in the next issue.


washingtonpost.com; abcnews.com