Susan Goldberg, Editor in Chief of National Geographic, recently felt compelled to speak out on the matter of truth, trust, and facts. In the June publication, her letter from the editor laments the widening of the trust gap between the public and the experts. She says, “As ‘certified’ experts decline in stature, ‘self-declared’ experts ascend.”

When she was a little girl, she would visit her immigrant grandfather, a successful bootstrap businessman, who would win every argument with what he called, “the actual facts.”  She recounts, “After each visit, on the drive home, my sister and I would snicker about my grandfather’s Actual Facts – a ridiculous, redundant phrase. We knew that facts were facts. Period.”

She is “astounded” that today we are talking about “alternative facts,” “fake news,” and “post-truth.” She goes on to say, “it’s frightening” when elected leaders around the world distort the facts. She says, “Clearly, it’s the ideal time to publish this month’s cover, a scientific exploration of why we lie.”

All our lives, we have trusted National Geographic to tell us the truth about our world, our society, and our environment. We still do. There’s lots of pictures. Hence the name, geographic. It’s hard to argue with pictures. And the stories that accompany the pictures are written by scientists and certified experts who give us the stories behind the pictures in non-political terms – just the facts.

Yet we’ve gone so far in doubting the truth and choosing to believe in alternatives that we have allowed a level of confusion to undermine our ability to act. As long as politicians and interest groups can confuse us, they will be able to forward their own selfish, short-sighted agendas at the price of our future.

The June issue of National Geographic examines lying in detail. What we find most disturbing is the tendency so many folks have to choose to believe what they want, what works for them, and what does not require any action. This allows them to be pandered to by interest groups who now, thanks to the advent of digital era, can proliferate the kind of news these folks want to read. Now that we can choose our news sources, it’s easier for us to be manipulated.

From a business stand point it has become more important to cater to your followers with what they want to read than it is to educate them – especially if it is an uncomfortable education that requires action. This is why we love the National Geographic. It’s educational and the implications of its scientific reports are actionable. It’s one of the solid rocks of integrity remaining in our society. We wish we could give everyone a free subscription!

Meanwhile, their report says that when we lie, it is most often to coverup a mistake or misdeed. The number two reason is to gain financial advantage. With that said, politicians and interest groups are the ones that should be scrutinized, and not the scientists. The overwhelming majority of scientists clearly have no motive beyond professionalism, service, and the long-term betterment of mankind.

Integrity in business translates to dependability, delivering value, consistent messaging over time, and claims that are verifiable and supported by certified experts. Businesses that subscribe to these principles tend to withstand the test of time. Such is the case with National Geographic. They are documenting our world in a way that is hard to argue with. In these days of alternative facts, National Geographic has earned its reputation of an institution of great integrity and is a bastion of “Actual Facts.”

Who Are We.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse in 1986, to the board room of E&J Gallo, where they successfully sold their brand in 2005. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful and help corporations achieve entrepreneurial cultures to engage and empower their people.

Currently they travel the world keynoting at universities, corporations, conferences and symposiums. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals; along with being FOX News Radio Network’s Workplace Culture Experts. They are also the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Award from the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Bradley University. Visit their popular brand building site at www.thebrandauthority.net. To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact info@thebarefootspirit.com.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders