Freelance Writer/Journalism Student, Ohio Feb 13 2015
A few years ago I requested an interview with Charney for a very small non profit street paper in my city. Not many CEOs would’ve granted an interview to a small, nonprofit newspaper (albeit these days thats now a redundant qualifier), but Charney agreed. He only granted the interview after asking me a few questions about my work ethic and philosophy. Questions designed to find out what intrinsically motivated me and what kind of work ethic to which I was dedicated. I was taken aback, because it appeared he decided to grant the interview based on my principles. Really? Not how many twitter followers I had? Doesn’t he care about how page views we get? What about screening the questions? Wont he make me do that?
He never applied value to these metrics when deciding to grant the interview. Considering the fact that I was only a journalism student at the time – an aspiring writer and journalist – I had unsurprisingly been surrounded by people who applied very high value – to an almost sad extent I eventually came to find out – who were all trying to instill the same values in myself. So – as anyone in the industry can imagine – to achieve an interview based on character was wild.
I thank this man to myself every day for his contribution to the very important shake up that happened in my values that day, and for the way it shaped the kind of journalist, creator, and writer I strived to be from that day forward. He showed me people in power do value character. Its not a lost currency. It pays to be hard working. It pays to be loyal to a standard of principle. It pays to be decent.
I thank this man for saving me from one of the biggest emotional disabilities my generation has fallen into: chronic cynicism.
As I did more research into Charney’s past, spoke to his workers close friends and loved ones, I started to see that, while this person has gone through an emotional wringer with a long line of personal betrayals by people he once presumed to be friends, he still trusts people.
Perhaps cautiously, but I watched as this man still: protected his workers, stood up for friends, accepted new people into his life like family, listened to people without instant judgment, struck up conversations with strangers, overtipped, and gave his heart out generously to people.
This was a man with serious battle wounds when it came to social relationships with other people, and yet he still remained open to new people. This is a demonstration of spirit and sense of life you don’t easily forget.
Through these acts, the reason he granted the interview, his commitment to workers, and his unyielding faith in people, Charney has instilled in me a deep sense of optimism with which I use to navigate my world and the people in it.