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Stepping up . . . The Business Hive director Cara Tipping Smith has been appointed as the new chairwoman of the Oamaru Business Collective. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Let’s talk about talk.

When I was a child, my dad would often tell a story about how he got his first import licence.

Apparently, back in the day, you had to apply for one. He did. He was an up-and-coming young man with experience, contacts overseas and a good reputation.

He was declined.

He tried again.

He was declined.

He was a bit annoyed. For my dad, “a bit annoyed” meant bit, teeth and (usually) major traction.

The story went, he bought a licence off some government crony (his words, not mine) for a s***-tonne of money.

Since the licence had been issued to someone else, it wasn’t much use to him .. at least, on the surface of things.

Somehow, Dad managed to get an audience with someone in the high-ups (contacts, yeah?).

Once again, he asked for a licence and was declined. Then, (and this is the juicy bit) he pulled out his freshly purchased licence and put it in front of “Mr High-Up-Very-Important”.

“What’s that?”

“A licence.”

“That’s not legal.”

“True,” Dad said. “Shall we talk about how I managed to buy it?”

According to Dad, “Mr High-Up-Very-Important” went off and issued him a licence on the spot.

Dad would finish the story laughing, and say, “never stop asking questions”.

And so, I do – ask questions, that is.

All’s fair in love and business – right?

Or not.

The winner writes the story. Or more to the point, the speaker claims the win.

Crony – this muppet paid me a s***-tonne for a useless licence.

“Mr High-Up-Very-Important” – scandal averted for the cost of a licence this guy’ll have to make work.

Who’s right?

Whoever is telling the story.

Never let the truth get in the way of a bit of defamation, right? Damn the consequences (loss of job, government scandal, imprisonment, serious mental distress).

So next time someone leans in to give you a casual character assassination of someone else in this town – look at your source.

Ask yourself, what’s in it for them? Who looks good in this story? Who started the Oamarumour in the first place?

Fortunately, my story is now too old to do any damage. All the players are dead. I miss my dad. Dodgy import licence aside, he was a damn good human who loved to tell a good story.

Aren’t we all?

Just what stories are we telling?

  • Cara Tipping Smith is a director of The Business Hive