Camp Fire in CA: What Amount of Money Justifies Keeping A Promise?

The devastation that ravaged California in 2018 due to wildfires is difficult to comprehend.

Families lost everything, many lost their very lives, and one company is now being held accountable.

According to CNN, Pacific Gas & Electric, PG&E, is facing manslaughter charges as truth comes to light in the aftermath of the State’s deadliest and destructive Camp Fire.

What was the Promise broken?

Many in fact, perhaps unspoken and simply assumed promises after getting/keeping the job, and yet made all the difference:

  • “failing to properly operate and maintain power lines” 
  • “clearing vegetation around power lines”

This is unacceptable.

If the allegations are true this simply means PG&E justified in their weekly meetings that it didn’t make money from the task of “clearing and maintaining”, seen as an un-profitable task, which was for business already won….and it caused mass destruction due to a broken promise.

On a personal level we have all experienced the relationship where a promise was broken, the gut-wrenching realization and inevitable disappointing aftermath.

On a business level we seem to deal with them daily in untruthful claims, lack of promises kept in customer service and customer experience, and so we go to the next company in search of truth tellers.

Yet at what cost is a Promise kept necessary?

I remember watching one of my heroes on stage early in my career.

He was a light, inspiring, hilarious, everything I wanted to be.

Running up to him after the event I begged him to mentor and teach me everything.

Handing me his card and cell phone he promised, “Call me anytime, we’ll go to lunch, I’ll be your mentor”.

I called and left the first message.

Then the email follow up.

After weeks, then months, finally YEARS of chasing him down I finally gave up.

I was worth nothing monetarily to my hero, and his promise was just empty rhetoric (perhaps this is the reason I started helping those that have asked the same of me, and it has become a full-fledged business).

Is the same true with the power company that knows it has the job, is the largest monopoly in the city, and realizes it doesn’t need to do the necessary deliverables, such as clearing debris and maintaining power lines, because it will keep the job anyway?

This is the cost of a promise that is broken vs one that is kept.

People lost their lives.

What is the power of a promise?


Contrast this to the Promise a firefighter makes, as he runs into the flames, to save lives of those he’ll never know.

Imagine a firefighter stopping short of helping any soul due to the danger presented. 

It’s incomprehensible.  It’s not how a firefighter functions.  He is expected to keep The Promise he made to strangers.

Yet is that not the same expectation we have for the business that potentially started the whole fire as well?

What are the promises you’ve made in life, in relationships, in business, and to those you engage and interact with?

Whether it makes you money or not, KEEP YOUR PROMISE, as you never know the exponential effect it will have!



Jason Hewlett, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame, Keynote Speaker for the largest corporate events in the world.  His primary message, The Promise, is the philosophy for “Becoming Legendary Leaders”, meaning every person in your organization is a Leader.  His presentations are intended to provoke you, not just inspire.  You will be entertained by one of the most celebrated performers of the past 20 years in Jason’s uncanny performance of music and comedy, while equally discovering your personal differentiator, uniqueness, leadership qualities, and how to improve workplace enjoyment while driving sales to legendary heights, called your Signature Moves.

Ready to become a Professional Speaker?  Let Jason show you how click here 

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14 thoughts on “Camp Fire in CA: What Amount of Money Justifies Keeping A Promise?”

  1. Promises can be big (i.e. we promise to maintain power lines) or small (i.e. sure, let’s do lunch) …

    Both were made without the commitment or real intention of having to deliver on that promise.

  2. Hi Jason!

    Happy New Year. Cindy Paskett here. Loved this blog, thank you for continued inspiration. YOU were one of the highlights of my 2018. I lost my Dad in early 2018, so when the Staff Forum came along, boy was I ready for the uplift you blessed all of us with.

    Continued blessings,


    1. Oh man, Cindy! You bring a tear to my eye every time I hear from you. Such an honor to have been there for your event, thank you for the kind words then and now. Bless you and your family always.

  3. Jason,

    Your commitment to your Promise(s) inspire me and always call me higher. Integrity. It all begins and ends there.

    Thanks for being you, Bro.

    Big love,

  4. Jason,

    Your message is one that is badly needed in today’s business and politics. Thanks for your efforts and talents in sharing it. Continued Success in 2019!

  5. Jason, you made a good point. Working with executives and leadership teams for the last 20 years I learned that most people and organization are not aware that a promise is a distinction in language and often confused with a good idea or intention, therefore if it happens or not is not a big deal. What makes a promise for me is that I will say “I promise.” Now what do I have to do before I say I promise? I must check my “capacity” to fulfill the promise, Do I have the time, the funding ($$), the authority, the competency, and reliability to keep such promise? Then and only then I will venture to say I promise. Let’s take a look at marriage, the fact that a couple think they love each other doesn’t assert that they have the capacity for a long happy relationship. Look at the divorce stats.
    Thank you for being a man of your word and have the courage to hold others accountable for their promises.

    1. Julio, every time you comment it gives me goosebumps! Love the way you think, articulate, and continue to shine. Love you brother!

  6. Wow!! How many times have I told someone I would get back to them and never did?? Thinking of it from both sides, do I want to deliver bad news…No! But on the other side, I would much rather hear that I wasn’t the right fit or there wasn’t an opening at this time. If you say you will follow up…FOLLOW UP!!

    1. Heather, this is such a fascinating way to look at things, isn’t it? Thank you for the comment and sharing the realization 🙂

  7. Excellent blog, Jason. I love the way you view our professional and personal lives through the lens of keeping a promise. You, definitely, raise the bar and the personal sense of responsibility. Framed as a “promise,” everything we say and everything we do carries so much more commitment. I’m a civility strategist and work with businesses to create cultures of trust. I define civility as “the consistent communication of respect,” so if I understand you correctly, civility is the PROMISE to consistently communicate with another human being with respect. If I (or my clients) are rude, short, belittling, sarcastic, unresponsive, etc., then we are making a promise. I love your metaphor…and your blog. Thank you, Jason.

    1. WOW Diana, this is so beautifully said and means the world that you would post this. Thank you for the work you do and you’ve nailed the definition better than I can.

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