A Good Name is All I Have by
(353 Stories)

Prompted By Honesty

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I cringe when I hear jokes putting down used car sales people. My father began with a used car lot, built it into a Chrysler Dealership. When that ended, sold Buicks for a time, then became the first Director of the Endowment Fund for The Detroit Jewish Welfare Federation, starting in 1970. He was known for his honesty and integrity and stressed those values to me.

I learned them well and they became paramount to me in my sales practice and life. My customers could count on me to be direct and straightforward with them. While I represented a product, I also represented myself, as I do in all my daily transactions. Time and again, after a successful sale was completed, I heard, “I bought because of you, Betsy”.

That is flattering. I hope the client also bought because the need was there for whatever I sold and I had convinced the client that my product best suited that need. Nevertheless, my clients always understood that I stood by my company and my products. The Featured photo is at an office party my company threw for me on my 30th birthday. That was my professional look at the time.

When I stopped believing in my product, I could no longer represent it. I could not go before someone and try to con him. It goes against everything I believe in. I just cannot bring myself to compromise my integrity. I would rather look for a new job. My good name is all I have.

This continued into my volunteer work, whether chairing reunions, as I just completed my 45th at Brandeis. Those who attended thanked me for my efforts to bring everyone back, make it a touchstone and remind them of what connects us to one another and the university; or other volunteer work throughout the years…at my children’s schools, on various alumni boards, on the Rose Art Museum Board, Art Councils, at the large annual sale for the School of the Museum of Fine Art. I always give it my all.

So living in this current climate, where we have “alternative facts” and our president thinks nothing of making huge, verifiably false statements over and over again, goes against everything I was taught was honorable, correct and decent, not to mention the proper way to govern oneself and the country. It horrifies me daily. The rest of the free world (and I have a child who lives in London, so I hear a lot about what the British think), just shake their heads and wonder what has happened over here. How could we have lost our moral compass?

I wonder that myself. How could we have lost our way to this con man who does not know right from wrong, who thinks nothing of lying to save his skin? During this last college reunion, I attended a small dinner with close friends. Another person joined us, a sports journalist, who for years covered boxing and was often around the current occupant of the White House. He reminded us that the Orange One learned a lot from boxing promotor Don King, known more for savvy than truth. Another presidential mentor was Roy Cohen, fixer to Joe McCarthy, master of the Red Scare, the greatest witch hunt since the original Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Not great role models.

A friend of a friend once played golf with our fearless leader, before he was president. They were playing in a golf tournament and the Orange One didn’t like where his ball landed, so he kicked it. The friend was astonished, “You can’t do that! This is a tournament.” “There are three things you need to know about me,” rejoined the Orange One. “I cheat at business, I cheat on my wife, and I cheat at golf”. So much for honor. That man is now the leader of the Free World with millions of devoted followers, who like him because he “tells it like it is”. Truly frightening. Our allies no longer trust that promises made by the United States will be kept because he doesn’t keep his word. He is notorious for that. He is not an honorable man and does not understand what honesty means. As Roger Cohen said in his D-Day NYT op-ed column, the US became a world leader after WWII because “America’s word was a solemn pledge”, but not with this hollow, vain man.

A good name is all we have.

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Tags: integrity, sales, trust, truth


  1. John Shutkin says:

    Thank you for this story, Betsy. I am really impressed with the honesty that you have brought to your professional and charitable endeavors. (I doubt I could say the same for myself, and I don’t consider being a lawyer as an excuse.) You truly live by your title: “A good name is all I have.”

    I also much enjoyed your discussion of what is, at the least, the elephant in the room as to this week’s prompt: that we have never had a more dishonest president. Sadly, the last sentence about the mockery he has made of our “solemn pledge” absolutely caught the horror of all this. Incidentally, as you may know, Rick Reilly, a Sports Illustrated writer, just published a book about Trump and how he cheats at golf exactly as you say. In fact, he apparently earned the nickname of “The Kicker” among caddies at one of his clubs.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thanks for this glowing endorsement, John. I do not always live up to my rules, but I do try.

      Not only am I aware of Rick Reilly, but I heard him introduce the movie “Loopers” (really fun; about caddies) at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in February. He was a hoot! And yes, he talked about Trump’s bad habit of cheating at golf CONSTANTLY! What a guy, this president of ours. Such a role model for the kids.

  2. Suzy says:

    Great story, Betsy! I thought about discussing the Orange One in my story, but ended up just giving him a passing mention. You do a much better job than I would have, so I’m glad I didn’t. And from knowing you, I have no doubt that you have always been honest and ethical in your business and volunteer roles. Thanks for writing this!

  3. Marian says:

    This is an admirable story, Betsy, and I can related to how, when the belief in your product diminished, you could no longer sell it. In sales, and in my consulting field as well, reputation can mean everything. On a lighter note, your photo of your “professional look” at age 30 made me smile because it’s so similar to what I wore–even down to the permed hair!

  4. Nicely done, Betsy. I particularly appreciated how you moved the narrative from personal experiences to political observations about the shadow we are all struggling with. Your anecdotal experiences regarding the horrible man were enlightening as were your own reflections. Thanks, and keep moving forward, it’s the direction where hope lies.

  5. I would choose, among many: When you’re going through hell… keep going.” — Winston Churchill

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    Betsy, I couldn’t agree more. While we try (most of us, anyhow) to be honest in our work and personal relationships, we are represented in the world by a con man who never met a lie he didn’t perpetuate if it serves his interests. Your golf story sums him up perfectly — a cheater in all things, always. I guess the best we can do for now to to try to live personally honorable lives and work to get him out of the office he cheated to “win.”

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