I was 13 years old on a basketball court in Jamestown, NY, when I was handed a bootlegged copy of NWA’s Straight Outta Compton on a black Maxell cassette that changed my life. I rushed home that afternoon and put it into my cassette player. The first lyrics I heard – You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge – were vibrant, strong and powerful. I don’t need to see the blockbuster film about these rap icons remind today’s youth why they mattered. At the time, the group was young, green and volatile. I didn’t necessarily condone all of the rough lyrics. But they were wildly gifted, visionary and confident. They were dripping in swagger.
Compliance officers need to take a lesson in swagger. When NWA debuted, south central Los Angeles was a smorgasbord of street drugs, gang violence, and some would say hot-tempered police department. The group – through steely eyes and a strong sense of purpose – epically described what it was like to survive in their community. They were authentic. They were real. They believed their core values. They were self-assured. They made a difference. And the world needed their voice.
Compliance officers already have a built set of core values – the seven elements of an effective compliance program – But what are your core values? Honesty? Integrity? Relentlessness? When you walk in a room, do people see them? Do they feel them? Do you mope about the higher-ups that don’t listen, or do you confuse confidence with immature cockiness? You can’t have both. You need to be unpretentious. Authentic. And real. You need to give to others who need you to make a difference. You need to give a voice to the voiceless and get things done. Be self-assured. A grinder. Gritty. Focus on what you can control. Take action. Form good habits. Live your values. Make a difference. The world needs our voice.
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