An Open Letter to Dan Schulman and PayPal from a North Carolina Customer

Dear Mr. Schulman and PayPal,

My name is Matt Ham and I am a loyal PayPal customer. In 2015, I completed nearly $20,000 in transactions using your company’s services. However, I was concerned when I recently read that you were canceling a $3.6M expansion initiative that would bring 400 jobs to my home state of North Carolina based on your disagreement with a recent bill passed by our legislature.

You’re quoted as having said, “The new law perpetuates discrimination and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture.” Essentially, you don’t want to do business with those who don’t comply with the PayPal mission and culture.

Now, I’m not the CEO of a billion dollar company, I run an insurance agency in my hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, but what I’ve learned from years of working with people is that relationships matter. While I don’t always agree with my clients personal values, I continue to do business with them—all of them. Their personal values have nothing to do with my willingness to serve them.

On the surface, your response seems to stand up for the mission and culture of PayPal, but it also explicitly suggests that you condone leveraging power as a way to gain compliance. You’re intentionally saying, “I’ll give you my money if you do what I want.”

Money isn’t a tool to gain control and sway power. That’s like a sad little rich kid whose parent’s buy them everything except the one thing they want most.

I understand and value your convictions. Fortunately, this great country offers you the freedom to make those choices. However, I want to challenge your perspective.

While your decision may seem noble—standing up for your convictions—I’m afraid it lacks grace, understanding, and compassion. It seems to be knee-jerk in nature, a follow-the-leader reaction based on the shared opinions of your CEO, tech colleagues.

I too had a knee-jerk temptation when I first read your position. I wanted to cancel all of my accounts with your company and petition that others do the same—you know, fight fire with fire. But I quickly realized that I would have been mirroring your response. It felt very visceral and corporate to me.

Instead, I’m taking a different approach: If you refuse to expand business in North Carolina, if you’re willing to discriminate against our state, then discriminate against all of your clients who hold a different ideal.

You see, regardless of someone’s position on the law, there are two sides to that coin. And when you pick a side and take the action that you’ve taken, you’re discriminating against the other. You can call the other side bigoted and discriminatory, but that shows an unwillingness to consider a different perspective.

I’m not sure that is a wise response. Instead of following the CEO establishment, I encourage you to take the lead.

What corporate America often forgets is that money can’t buy trust. Neither can money buy relationships. It can coerce and it can control, but there’s no real value in that. When you start using money as leverage to prove a point or gain a position, you’re a slave to what money can buy and a forever lacking in the things it can’t.

I understand and respect the fact that you don’t agree with the opinions of our legislature. But show me, and your other loyal customers, that PayPal is an organization who is willing to value relationships over bottom-lines and politics. And that means every relationship—even those who don’t think the way you do.

You don’t shape or influence others by boycotting them. Instead, you engage in relationships that provide the context for you to share your convictions. Lead from within rather than judge from a distance.

 

Sincerely, and still your customer,

 

Matt Ham

 

PS – Feel free to pass this on to Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Benioff, Bill Maris, and any other CEO’s who want to lead by example.

 

About the Author:

Matt Ham is an author, speaker, and small business owner based in Wilmington, North Carolina. His first book, Redefine Rich, is aimed at cultivating a deeper perspective on personal wealth. Through countless stories and his own cancer diagnosis, Matt learned that a rich life is marked by four distinct principles. In an emotionally charged narrative, Matt explores and unpacks those principles as he walks with the audience to uncover a path to the well-lived life.

Matt also hosts a weekly podcast titled, Whole Life Matters. You can subscribe for free here: www.mattham.com/itunes

To inquire about speaking, visit www.mattham.com/speaking

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  • Anne-Marie Gosser

    Excellent! Thank you!

  • Very well said Matt. – It is one thing to follow the crowd but it is another thing to stand up truly take the lead.

  • I disagree. The new law lacks compassion, not Paypal.

  • Tammy

    When you read the whole bill and are not sucked into the fear mongering of it being about bathrooms and the safety of women and children, you may begin to understand why PayPal and so many other businesses/communities are now boycotting our wonderful state. HB2 removes lots of protections for ALL of us, not just those who are transgender. Here is an article that may explain things that the media is not really talking about: http://www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/April-2016/The-HB2-Provision-Few-Are-Talking-About/#.VwWkWugcSoc.facebook

    Also, if you really are concerned about the safety of your wife and children, I encourage you to learn more about sexual assault/abuse. I believe you will find that your wife and children are in more danger of being assaulted/abused by someone they know than in a public restroom by a stranger. For more information, you can contact the local Rape Crisis Center of Coastal Horizons Center, Inc. at 910-392-7460 and/or The Carousel Center at 910-254-9898.

    • Alicia

      Thank you for the article. I didn’t know the other facts. However, the only thing you hear people complaining about this bill is the bathroom situation. This is the ONLY thing people have been bringing up about this so my comment remains the same about the bathroom situation. I have watched the news and all of these companies, the mayor of New York, etc. are fired up over the bathroom situation and the LGBT group. NOBODY is saying that the LGBT are sexual predators. They are saying that it gives sexual predators another place to prey on women and children if they can choose whatever bathroom they want. It is true that sexual predators are sometimes family members etc but its not just sexual predators we have to worry about here, its kidnappers too. They approach kids in parks, walking home from school, etc, and the bathroom situation is just another place they can go to find their next victim. No one will change my mind on this.

  • Alicia

    Hi Tammy. With all do respect I read the article you posted and don’t see your point. I have to agree with Matt on this. I have a 14 year old daughter that doesn’t need me to go to the bathroom with her anymore so I do worry about her safety. This isn’t about LGBT. Its about the safety of others. Unfortunately there are bad people out there who will take advantage of ways to work the system. They could easily pose as a transgender person to get into the bathrooms easier now. This new law will help protect us and our children. I think the LGBT group needs to stop taking this law personally and realize its not about discriminating them. Its about SAFETY. That’s it. I am a christian and there are laws that discriminate us such as no prayer in schools. You don’t see a bunch of Christians protesting this law or getting big businesses to threaten our country if its not changed. No. Laws are laws. We may not like them but we have to deal with them. Our society has gotten so out of control with if I don’t get my way then I am going to threaten, protest, etc. to get my way. Everyone is acting so childish and making such a big deal out of everything. Just enjoy life and go on.

    • Tammy

      Alicia, maybe Lory Beth Huffman can explain the extra law changes that were snuck in the HB 2 law a little better than I can. 30 year discrimination protections for EVERYONE were striped away in this law. Not just those in the LGBTQ community. This is what big business and other states see. Look beyond the hot topic of the day and actually read the law. Here is Ms. Huffman’s post:
      http://faithmeetslifecumc.org/2016/03/31/house-bill-2-why/

      Also, I encourage you to have real conversations about safety with your daughter. I have two children 11 and 14. I know that there are many dangers out there that they could be subjected to (just watch the news). I also know that they are more likely to be assaulted by someone they know at home, at a neighbor’s house, at school, or any of their extra-curricular activities. There is no law to prevent that. Just like this law is not going to keep someone out of a public restroom that shouldn’t be there, transgender or not. I hope you will arm your child with the power of knowledge and guard her through the power of prayer.

  • John Conroy

    So, in case I tripped on a sentence, are Trans people still allowed to use the bathroom corresponding to gender on their birth certificate(which can be changed)? The rest of the article is pretty clear and I understand why people need to read this bill to see how poor it is. Just not sure if HB2 allows people who’ve transitioned to use the corresponding bathroom. Anyone?