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,
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