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Karmic Business

Dealmakers get what they give.

This story appears in the May 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In the 1920s and '30s, my grandfather was a successful small-town merchant in Poland. When times were hard, many who frequented his general store fell into debt. Grandpa never sued and often extended credit to (or bartered with) these customers. He didn't have to do this; in many ways, it made no sense.

In the early 1940s, the Germans occupied his hometown. My grandfather was Jewish. It was then that these customers remembered his kindness-by hiding, feeding and saving my grandfather and his family from extermination.

Perhaps it's a dramatic example, but it's why I believe in the law of business karma-what goes around, comes around. To those who say, "in the long run, there is no long run": your shortsightedness will cost you.

It's a rare deal in which two sides will never meet again--business circles can be small. Think twice before you "take no prisoners." You never know when you'll need something from the opponent you're about to fleece or humiliate.

A speaker and attorney in Los Angeles, marc Diener is the author of Deal Power: 6 Foolproof Steps to Making Deals of Any Size (Owl Books/Henry Holt). You can reach him at

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