Bill Daniels & Principle-Based Ethics
Bill Daniels said integrity and unwavering ethical behavior provide "the ultimate business advantage."
Bill Daniels believed deeply in ethics and integrity, and the importance of absolute ethical principles. As an exceptionally honest and fair businessman, he always based his decisions on what he believed was right — not on what he thought was best for himself or his company. This attitude and style of conducting business earned Bill Daniels incredible respect and loyalty throughout the business world.
- In 1952, Bill opened a small insurance agency in Casper, Wyoming, and struggled to make it over the next three years. Bill recalled that in 1955, "One of the insurance companies I represented went broke. Two weeks after [their] bankruptcy, one of my clients, to whom I had sold a liability policy, was sued by Burlington Railroad. A judgment was entered against my client for $11,000. I made a deal with Burlington Railroad to pay this judgment off at $500 per month, over a 22-month period. I did not have to do this, but I had a strong conviction that I owed this to my insured, who had placed his faith in my handling of his insurance business. During this time, the $500 payment was more than I was making per month. I managed, however, through borrowing and juggling finances to do this."
- Bill owned the American Basketball Association's Utah Stars when the team was forced into bankruptcy in 1975 as the league unraveled. Although Bill’s financial obligations were legally discharged, he returned to Salt Lake City five years later and repaid every season ticket holder, vendor, player, and employee — with 8% interest per year — at a personal cost of more than $750,000. To show their appreciation, the people of Utah named Bill Daniels the first inductee into the Utah Sports Legends Hall of Fame.
- Bill contributed $6 million to cover unexpected losses suffered by investors and vendors during the inaugural Denver Grand Prix in 1990. He contributed an additional $4 million to enable the City of Denver to honor its commitment to host a second year. More importantly, he protected Denver's emerging reputation as a city capable of hosting world-class events at a time when the futures of the new airport, convention center, and other significant developments in Denver were far from certain.
- Bill gave a significant gift to the University of Denver to incorporate ethics and integrity throughout its business curriculum due to his concern that students were not receiving education of this kind. The business school was renamed the Daniels College of Business in his honor in 1994.
- Bill felt the best deals — and the only ones that interested him — represented a win for all involved. He considered the impact to all parties, and often walked away from lucrative deals that failed to address potential negative consequences. Bill believed that for a company to increase the cost of a product or service, there had to be a demonstrated value to the customer.
A Life of Integrity: The Principled Ethics of Bill Daniels
The video below illustrates how Bill Daniels lived a life guided by principle-based ethics, and provides information about the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative.