Don’t be a creep

One of the most famous corporate mantras ever is “don’t be evil.” If you haven’t heard about this code of conduct, you should go to your favorite search engine and look it up. Then again, if you have to search this, it’d be hugely ironic because not knowing where this mantra comes from would lead me to believe you’re not too online savvy, which begs me to ask “how the heck did you find blog?”


I guess simply stating “be good” was potentially too patronizing for a company to be telling its workforce. I can buy that because that’s what you tell your dog or your 15-year old son just before you leave a tray of bacon or open beer in front of him.

More than anything, the problem I’ve always had with “don’t be evil” is the position it implies the deliverer of this message assumes he or she is in. The concept of evil or to be more precise good vs. evil comes straight from the bible. For a company to push this maxim, it just eerily implies to me that they believe themselves to be at a plane higher than the common worker – to be almost godly.

Perhaps I may be deluded but “don’t be evil” rings very close to the English translation of primum non nocere or “do no harm” – a tenet from medical school. Can any non-life sciences company honestly think itself to be that important?

My favorite alternative is “don’t be creepy.”


Everyone knows what creepy is. It’s like quality. You know it when you see or feel it. And, it’s not biblical. It’s not implying deity level power or import. It’s straight forward and honest. Like a cup of hot black coffee. When you order it, you know what you’re going to get.

To prove the point here are three things that I believe to be universally creepy:

  • Brigitte Nielson having plastic surgery on live TV. I watch Nip/Tuck so it’s not the surgery that creeps me out, it’s the potential for Flavo Flav to be making a cameo while she’s under.
  • Ronald McDonald. Ever since I was a kid he freaked me out. I used to love going to McDonald’s every Saturday with my father largely because it was our time to spend together, secondly because that meant there was no school, but mostly I stuck close to my dad so he could keep that creepy clown away from me if he was wandering around.
  • A former very senior colleague of mine suggesting to a client that we have a team dinner at Bed. Unless I’m working at a place owned by Hugh Hefner, my sense is this would be way creepy, borderline gross and probably a prelude to evil doings.

– Jose Mallabo

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