People appreciate honesty. That is true in both personal and professional relationships. I think Inez Y. Kaiser knew that to be true and it helped her when she launched her Kansas City public relations firm in 1957.
Kaiser’s first national account was the result of her commitment to honesty. Her integrity carried her to the top, winning out over 18 men to obtain the 7-Up account. Today, at the age of 95, Kaiser explains what happened (Cindy Hoedel “Persistence Was Key for KC Pioneer” The Kansas City Star Magazine, February 2, 2014, pp. 16–17):
“During my presentation, the president of the company asked me a question that I didn’t know the answer to. I said, ‘I don’t know the answer, but I assure you I will call you with it tomorrow.’ He said, ‘Hire the woman right now. Anybody who admits they don’t know the answer, I like.’” (p. 16)
Kaiser’s experience is a demonstration of integrity’s power. Unfortunately, we have all accumulated too many integrity disappointments. Therefore, when someone simply responds by saying “I don’t know,” we find that refreshing.
Notice that Kaiser, in admitting she did not know, simultaneously linked that admission to a commitment to find the answer. This is exactly what Kaiser did, and it produced a major achievement for her firm.
Sometimes not knowing can get you the job, especially when it demonstrates your integrity.