The price of discipline
In the year 2002, my brother and I were at the preview show of ‘Nakshatra’ by the Diamond Trading Company (DTC). In the networking meeting, we were introduced to Naresh (name changed) who was also a jeweler like us. We both took up Nakshatra dealerships at the same time.
We agreed to leverage each other’s strengths by buying from each other. If I had a requirement, I used to call for his kind of jewelry. And he too had an opportunity to call from us. As he was in a different area and customers rarely clashed, we were in harmony, selling each other’s stuff.
One day, a customer called me and asked for Kundan necklaces. I remember that Naresh had taken it on approval. So I invited this customer to drop by the next evening. In the meantime, I called back for the stocks from Naresh.
Seema (customer’s name changed) and her daughter looked at each other’s faces when they saw the first set as it was opened before them. Something was wrong, I thought. I overheard their talk, “even this,” “see it’s the same.” After looking at the collection, they finalized on one necklace. On the previous day, they had been to Naresh’s shop and seen this entire variety. Seema confided that she had seen this in Naresh’s store.
As I was in a spot, I came out with the truth. I let her know that Naresh and I were good friends, and we sometimes exchanged our stocks.
“Fine,” she remarked, “we know what price your friend quoted. You tell us how much discount will I get from you?” I stood up and folded my hands. “This is a business of ethics. Whether you buy from me, or from him, it is just the same. But since you have already seen it there, I request you to buy it from him.”
“But we want to buy it from you. Your friend won’t even know.” She insisted.
“Sorry, Seema. you may be right, he will never come to know. But what about my conscience? If you had not told me, perhaps it would have been a different case. Please buy it from him. I will be happier.” The family members respected my suggestion. They bought other pieces of jewelry from us… but for that necklace, we sent them back to Naresh.
After they had left my shop, I called up Naresh and told him what had happened here. And that he should expect her to come over for the selected necklace. “Why did you do this?”, he swallowed in shock, “even my own brother wouldn’t do this for me.”
I answered, “We always have a choice. We will someday reap the fruits of the seeds we sow today. Why not plant the ones that’ll make us proud?”
Seema purchased the same necklace from Naresh the next day.
Naresh revealed that his father had kept warning him about borrowing and lending stocks to competitors (me). In a normal situation, anyone else would have dropped his profit margins to make the customer. He had challenged his dad’s assumptions and began trading with us. And now his dad will change his view about us.