To Be Perfectly Honest
Categories: living, sustainability

To Be Perfectly Honest: A Review of A.H. Metwally’s Be Honest

Pinocchio Society. Photo by artist, Carlos Rodriguez

Are we becoming a Pinocchio society? Photo by artist, Carlos Rodrguez

By: Michelina Docimo

Many lofty thinkers, like Plato, Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, Carlo Collodi (author of Pinocchio), and even Woody Allen, have alluded to a value that seems not to be valued so much these days – honesty.  There have been some decent liars throughout history too, some of epic proportion, like Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, Bernie Madoff, Anna Chapman & the Russian Spy Ring, and I won’t even touch the sports and political arenas.  So what is honesty?  What makes people veer from the truth?  What is the truth – is it something we create or does it simply exist?  Is it more difficult to tell the truth than a lie?  Is there a difference between being honest, true, and authentic?  Something that seems so simple to be – honest – can actually be quite complex.

First-time author Abdel Metwally, communicates his ideas about honesty in his judiciously named book, Be Honest.  A true story, written in a style that is half memoir half self-help (without necessarily claiming to be), Metwally takes the reader on a cultural voyage that transcends any ethnic affiliation, religious bent, or political preference.  His story begins where a part of his life ends, his emigration from his fatherland, Egypt, to the United States in 1969.  Well educated in business from Alexandria University, Metwally was eager to find respectable work in New York City.

A candid account about the American business world, Metwally’s early work experiences proved to be a test of his character.  Often working two jobs to not only make ends meet, but more importantly as a means to an end, Metwally was eager to move ahead.  Tempted by ethically lax colleagues, plenty of opportunities came his way to make fast money.  Surprised by this corrupt American business culture, Metwally courageously chose to make the right decision even when it was difficult, or when making the wrong one could have been easy.  He began to earn a reputation, an honest one.

Always maintaining complete confidentiality, his book names no names of employers, co-workers, and places of business.  Managers from various fields, but mostly in the hospitality, accounting, and real estate industries, called on Metwally for advice on facilitating communication with their employees to make their businesses more efficient and profitable.  Even when confronting the honest-deficient characters in his workplace, Metwally handles what can be tense situations with grace.  He helps bring out better practices without scolding or accusing someone of not doing their job right.  Rather, he takes a cooperative approach in understanding why the current systems are failing and how the organization can achieve higher standards.  He aims to create a focus on reality in situations that can quickly lose touch and sight of the company’s vision.

Metwally discusses waste in terms of resources, probably the most precious being people and time.  But he also introduces another concept of waste – environmental.  In 1973, studying at Long Island University, Metwally decides to write his thesis on “The Relationships Between The Corporate Management and Environmental Problems.”  Ahead of his time, Metwally realized a connection between upper management and their influence not only on how they managed their employees, but also on how their style of doing business affected the world outside the office.  Those without a conscience tended to be heavy polluters and showed little remorse in the damages they created.  Metwally’s conclusion is that management’s attitude of “sale, sale, sale,” can be detrimental to its success if it does not consider the affect its actions have on the environment and community.  Metwally can be considered a founder of the idea of corporate social responsibility, or monitoring ethical business practices to ensure balanced success.  So many individuals and businesses try to speed their drive to make as much profit as possible in a short amount of time, but ultimately end up failing.  Look at Enron, Lehman Brothers, and BP’s tarred image.

Metwally takes a pragmatic approach to his honesty principle.  His lessons are not preachy but rather a matter-of-fact investigation into human nature and environment and the influences one has over the other.  Be Honest is a quick read but should not be rushed.     It comes across as overly simplified, but there are many truths that fold into each other.  Metwally’s own journey to success was a slow one.  There was no one individual event that launched his career into stardom.  He’s an ordinary man, working hard, and living honestly in the new American Reality.

Written By: Michelina Docimo

A Few Quotes About Honesty:

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.  Thomas Jefferson

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty.  Plato

No legacy is so rich as honesty.  William Shakespeare

When we lose twenty pounds… we may be losing the twenty best pounds we have! We may be losing the pounds that contain our genius, our humanity, our love and honesty.  Woody Allen

“Every time you tell a lie, your nose will grow. When you tell the truth, it will shrink,” said the Blue Fairy. “Pinocchio, you can only become a real boy if you learn how to be brave, honest and generous.”  from Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio

My great desire is to be an honest worker in pursuit of my goals, free from the exploitation of selfish money-makers, and to end my life with clean hands.  As an immigrant with first-hand experience in the American workforce, I ask, how long will she ignore her responsibility to facilitate the pursuit of every working citizen’s dream?  Abdel Metwally

Abdel Metwally’s website:

Pinocchio photo by Carlos Rodriguez, found on:


5 Comments to “To Be Perfectly Honest”

  1. Short sales are such a hassle. People got themselves into this mess, it’s really sad. Too much greed, stay within your means.

  2. What a well written blog post you’ve got here. You actually were able to genuinely highlight the important aspects that basically matter. I really enjoy reading your website, the standard of the details is superb as well as your writing style really makes it simple to absorb and comprehend. Fantastic! Keep up the good work.

  3. wild animals says:

    when i started reading i assumed it was going to be filled with boring information, but really it turned out to be really interesting. im impressed!

  4. green funds says:

    Starting step by step is the way to go. Small steps could bring in a huge difference. Just using alternative fuels can bring a major change in the environmental conditions. It is high time one put an end to fishing for ways to make personal profits at the stake of the environment. The current situation is our fault and it is up to us to amend it.

  5. just an idea the beauty is in the truth

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