By Mike Vaccaro
(from Mike's Musings #14, our newsletter)

Honor, decency, righteousness, principled, uprightness, scrupulousness, rectitude, morality, character, nobility, and pride, are all dictionary synonyms for the word integrity.

A friend of mine, a tax professional, a former insurance salesman, owner of a carpet mill, a furniture store, a child care center and CFO of two Jingle companies, told me the other day, in discussing Integrity, that there is no honor in business. He said that honor in business is the exception rather than the rule.

He taught me a lesson that I had not fully understood during my career in the music business.

No one is perfect, and I have failed from time to time, especially in my earlier years, when I wanted to be a musician so badly, that I was willing to give up the idea of integrity that I was taught as a child, just so I could be in the music business and stay in it.

The problem was, that didn’t make me feel very good.

At some point early on, I lost my integrity, I lost myself, and that forced me to change, and to strive to be a better person.

I have been many things in my career. While working to become a virtuoso musician, I still had interests in the entrepreneurial endeavors. From my vantage point, I was always a little less successful in the entrepreneurial endeavors than in the musical endeavors. I wanted to make money, and lots of it, however, I could seldom sacrifice someone else to make a sale.

In most cases, a successful salesman would make the sacrifice for the sake of the sale.

Make no mistake, the business of performing music is also an entrepreneurial job, mixed with the artistic aplomb that must always accompany it. The same goes for other music jobs, whether it be owning a music store, being a repairperson, running a performing arts center, or any of the myriad of other jobs related to music.

So the question becomes: "How to we do our business and perform our music with integrity?"

Some people are lucky, and integrity just works for them, so it is an easy choice. Make no mistake though, “idealism does not go unpunished,” and even those who find it easy to have honor will experience this.

Like telling the truth, so we are never caught in a lie, which ultimately becomes damaging to our image, it is just easier not to lie, and keep a little bit of our integrity intact. Though others can get away with lying, if not by word but by action, I think many of us feel a twinge of some sort when we fail to honor our own integrity.

"Tell a lie once and all your truths become questionable."
Teri Labunski

What makes it so difficult and confusing. is that our truth is not always the truth of others.

We can have integrity within the confines of our own limitations, while realizing that there will always be people with greater or lesser skills and experience than ourselves. Saying negative things about any comrade in music, is mostly a reflection on ourselves, not on them. We can always make great and valid music within our own limits.

There are many personalities in life, and the fact is that each of us is unique. How our personality works with our integrity takes many years of trial and error. Hopefully, that is what childhood is for, but most of us take longer to learn these lessons. Some people never resolve how to pair their personality with integrity, thus creating their own kind of uneasiness.

Integrity means something different to every person on the planet, but I propose that it comes back to the first sentence of this dialogue.

So let me just write it again:

Integrity is…… honor, decency, righteousness, principles, uprightness, scrupulousness, rectitude, morality, character, nobility, and pride.

Like the art of music, these things must be practiced on a daily basis.
Perhaps, as Artists, our business can have Integrity if we all work on it.

Some recent quotes from my diary:

"If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything"
Liepar Dessin
"Each time a person stands up to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, it sends out a tiny ripple of hope"
Robert F. Kennedy