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When Barrie Bergman, business, Kurt Kamperman


Insights from experience

and plain common sense

UCSB Trustee, builder of two national multi-million dollar enterprises, and author of Nice Guys Finish First, Barrie Bergman’s success in business and in life is not an accident.  Barrie’s simple and common sense strategies worked for him, and they can work for you:

  • Enjoy your job
  • Find balance in your life
  • Treat co-workers with respect and understanding
  • Set goals based on excellence not on money


Memorable quotes from Barrie's book

“I believe that having fun in any business is essential.  It cannot be cultivated in a negative environment.  The environment has to change first. A strong organizational ethical base must be in place, and people have to treat each other with respect.  Only then can it be experienced.  Fun works for me on several levels, but from a hard-core business perspective, having fun contributes to the bottom line. Not only can you have fun while making a profit, your profits will be more abundant if you are having fun along the way.”

 “I learned to value and seek diversity and not just diversity of skills. I wanted people to have different backgrounds representing a wide array of racial makeup, religious beliefs, and politics. I wanted both genders represented and some people who didn’t fall neatly into either. It wasn’t because I was trying to be politically correct. I believe diversity spawns innovation. Varying beliefs create more dialog, which stimulates new thinking. If organizations get stuck in a rut thinking the same things over and over, and continuing to operate the way they’ve always done, pretty soon they go the way of the buggy whip manufacturers. You become obsolete.” 

“In all my business dealings, I’ve done my best to treat people the way I wanted to be treated in return. It’s a very effective style, it made me a lot of money and I always felt good while I was doing it.”

 “Just about everyone covets the idea of having a lot of money. Yet we’ve heard so many stories about people with money being miserable. Why are there so many miserable rich people? It’s because they become the money. They let it take over their lives. They see it only as a vehicle to protect, not to enjoy; to acquire more, not to use what they have for good. The pursuit of money becomes an obsession and they lose all sense of balance and all too often they lose their sense of ethics and values as well. They don’t see having money as an opportunity; they see it as a fortress against the world. It isolates them.”

 “If you want your people to adopt a certain behavior, you’ve got to model it at the top. In my executive management group we made an agreement—if you say something to anybody in the group, you’re saying it to everybody. I don’t believe in secrets anyway, because my experience is people don’t keep secrets. So there’s no point in having them. Immediately the alarm goes off when somebody says “I’m going to tell you, but don’t tell anyone else.” My philosophy has always been, “Say it to me, you’ve said it to everybody. Don’t say it to me if you don’t want everybody to know!” It cut out a lot of the crap!”

 “A lot of managers will tell you they hire people they don’t like because they’ve got the credentials. I think that’s a mistake, you’ve got to have a certain kind of chemistry with your team if you want to create synergy. Unless I really liked them, I couldn’t get along with them, and I couldn’t manage them successfully. The person didn’t have to be a stand up comedian or a great personality to pass through my filter, just somebody I wanted to be around.  Hiring someone you don’t like is a disaster waiting to happen.”

 “My experience was that firings never came as a surprise to anybody. When somebody was screwing up, everybody knew it including the person being fired. If you are doing your job properly as a manager, you are providing regular feedback, so a person should never be truly surprised when they are fired for poor performance.”  

“I’m convinced that you can be a good person and do well in business and in your personal life.  There are enough idiots out there.  The world needs more ethical people.  Whoever said that nice guys finish last was just another jerk trying to justify his existence.” 

“There is never a star without a supporting cast. Organizations don’t score big wins without a lot of people pulling together. Any time you get a corporate star, it’s best to remember that a lot of people are making contributions behind the scenes. Ideas rarely come from just one person; they tend to germinate among a bunch of people. Inevitably if one person gets credit, one person is happy and three are pissed. I’d rather have four people happy. It’s the team as a whole and each contributor within that deserves to get credit.” 

“To me, being ethical is fairly simple. It means adhering to an unyielding standard of honesty and integrity in all business and personal dealings.  No matter how great the temptation for financial gain or personal power, a person takes the high road.  You make the choice to live your life with honesty and integrity.  You may get rich a few days later, but you’ll be able to live your life with a clear conscience.” 


Nice Guys Finish First, available at


© 2008 Barrie Bergman
National Management Associates, 30 W. Mission St., Suite 6, Santa Barbara, CA, 93101
P: 805.563.0411 F: 805.563.0441
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