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The 6 O'Clock News Rule

3Com had a strong “do the right thing” culture but didn’t adopt an official code of conduct until 1989. A funny story about this was relayed to us during research for the book. Mark Michael, legal SVP, remembered presenting a drafted code of conduct to CFO Chris Paisley and CEO Bill Krause. They were in Bill’s cubicle discussing an item relating to business gifts – specifically, a rule against accepting excessively generous gifts in various forms. They settled on what they called the “6 O’clock News Rule”, a common sense test to never accept something that you wouldn’t want shared on the 6 O’clock news.

As if fated to test this newly adopted rule, a big advertising agency vying for 3Com’s business offered Bill Krause a ticket for what would become the famous third game in the 1989 Giants vs. A’s World Series matchup. Bill declined the invitation saying, “I guess this wouldn’t pass our new policy about undue influence and gifts,” but Chris Paisley, an avid sports fan, had already accepted an invite with Deloitte, 3Com's audit firm. Chris was seated in the front row of that World Series game when the Loma Prieta earthquake hit. Cameras were rolling, in what would become the first ever recording of a major earthquake. The camera crew turned their lenses on the fans seated in the front row, and Chris literally had to duck and discreetly exit so he would not be on the 6 O’ clock news!

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I was in the nosebleed seats for that game. I did not see Chris so he did a good job laying low and not getting caught on camera. I worked in distribution and we often got tickets from vendors. Times were different then and I never felt guilty after some of the 80 hour work weeks working as a team to meet our goals. We worked hard but we always celebrated hard too. Great company culture!

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