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Articles filed in: Strategy

Trust And Traction

When we want to get a project off the ground, we are often confused about the best way to achieve our goal.

We believe if we could only reach more people, we’d immediately have traction.

But reach is a poor substitute for the trust of a handful of the right people.

A deep connection trumps fleeting attention every time.

Image by Daniel Funes Fuentes

A Stake In The Ground

Years ago, when the owner of our local bakery decided to bake only gluten-free bread and cakes, it would have sounded like a risky strategy. Many people would have advised her to sell both conventional baked goods alongside her gluten-free loaves. Instead, she put a stake in the ground.

We are naturally inclined to want to hedge our bets. But it can be liberating to say this is the real work I care about doing. These are the exact people I want to serve.

Those decisions about what’s important to us and how to do our best work can mean the difference between standing out and fitting in. Joy and misery. Success and failure.

Whatever work you do, it’s helpful to reflect on who you want to be to whom.

Image by Maranda Vandergriff

We Learn By Doing

When my sons were younger, they loved listening to the straight-talking comedian and radio presenter, Karl Pilkington. One of their favourite Pilkington quotes is:
‘You won’t get anything done by planning.’ They often quoted it to me during exam times when I made hints about the benefits of revision timetables.

I’m not sure if Pilkington ever explained what he meant when he said this, but there’s wisdom in his words. Plans are a necessary starting point for any project. But plans and projections alone won’t get us to where we want to go.

We learn what’s next by making a start, with a leap of faith—by taking that first step.

We build on our experience, not our plans.

We learn by doing.

Image by David Brooke Martin

Expect The Good

There is no way of knowing if the organic vegetables I bought today were grown without pesticides. But I trust that they were.

When I order gluten-free bread for a friend, I trust my baker has used the right flour.

I believe the chocolate inside the bar labelled ‘fair trade’ is ethically produced.

Every day we rely on millions of people we’ve never met to tell the truth and do the right thing. And they do.

Our culture and our society depend on us expecting the good. And we do.

Image by Neonbrand

When Things Catch On

When things catch on, we often assume that their success happened en masse and out of the blue. One day an idea is invisible to us, the next it’s everywhere.

The truth about ideas that fly is that they gain traction in increments.

One story, one believer, one advocate at a time.

We earn the right to speak to more people by delighting the first one.

Image by Ketan Rajput

Stronger Together

It’s the day before Melbourne cafes close again under reinstated lockdown restrictions. The owner of the Italian restaurant that opened in January is heart sore. We get chatting as I’m paying the bill. He explains that due to then pandemic they’ve been able to have patrons dine in for only nine of the twenty-four weeks they’ve been open. Most of his Italian staff have returned home, and he’s doing his best to support and keep his local team in work.

The business has transitioned to takeaway only and offers grocery boxes for delivery. What’s most impressive is how the owner is building customer loyalty while caring for his team during this difficult time. When the restrictions hit, he sat with each staff member to find out how many hours work they needed to pay their bills. The team members with second jobs worked less and offered extra hours to those who needed more.

Overwhelmingly what we’re seeing in these challenging times in the hospitality sector and beyond among both businesses and customers is a renewed sense of mutual appreciation.

Small businesses are doing everything they can to adapt and serve. And the community is doing what it can to sustain local businesses. If the past few months have reminded us of anything, it’s how dependent we are on each other. That symbiosis has the power to make us stronger.

We’re not just in this together. We’re better because we’re together.

Image by Zhanjiang Chen

Trusted Over Time

We often hear it said that it’s hard to stand out in an increasingly competitive world.

Maybe you can’t be the biggest, fastest or cheapest in your field. But there are plenty of ways to differentiate and make a mark. First among them is by being trusted over time.

Make promises you intend to keep. Keep them.

Image by Zdeněk Macháček

Raising The Bar

When I was a teenager, I joined the local athletic club. I’d never been much of a runner, but since I went to an all-girls school, the draw of the athletic club where boys hung out was abundantly clear. It was time to dust off my running shoes.

The worst thing about contemplating long-distance running wasn’t starting—it was not knowing if I had the stamina to finish. I was never sure if a stitch or a cramp would stop me from completing the requisite number of laps around the track. So, I opted-out and choose to take part in the distances and events I knew I could at least safely complete.

On the one hand, that sounds like a decent strategy. No sense in starting something if you’re not sure you can succeed when there are other, safer options open to you. But if we only did the things we were sure would work, we’d end up limiting our potential and stifling our growth.

No matter what project we’re embarking on, it’s tempting to lower the bar so we can be certain of a successful outcome before we begin. Alternatively, we can choose to find joy in the effort of exceeding our expectations.

Image by Markus Spiske

That Certain Something

A new local grocery store around the corner from us finally opened its doors last weekend. For weeks we’ve been pressing our noses to the window as the new tenants swept the floor and stocked the shelves ready for the big day. The previous grocer stocked only organic produce, operated a juice bar and sold health supplements. He did well for many years until he expanded to two more locations that didn’t gain traction and eventually had to close all three.

Our new grocer tells us he doesn’t sell organic produce but he plans to stock more convenience food in the coming weeks. We’re not sure how his offering will be different enough from that of the two big-name supermarkets just four hundred metres walk from his door.

His store doesn’t sell anything customers can’t buy cheaper in another shop. He can’t compete on proximity, product range or price, so he needs to offer customers something they won’t get at the supermarket. It’s not yet clear what that ‘certain something’ is.

The people in our neighbourhood will try to support this new local store. They will pop in for a forgotten ingredient at 5 pm on a Tuesday evening or buy fresh flowers to cheer up a room at the weekend. But there won’t be enough of us buying sufficient volume to keep the lights on, and the shelves stocked.

Whatever we make, sell or serve, the question we must ask ourselves isn’t—if we build it, will they come? The harder and often scarier question to answer is—why would they come?

It sounds obvious, but we must give the people we want serve enough reasons to support us. Listing those reasons is a good place to start.

Image by Mehrad Vosoughi

On Experience

Every time we approach a new problem we believe we have to come at it with fresh eyes. Sometimes that is true. But we mustn’t ignore our lived experience.

Whatever challenge or goal is in front or ahead of us, it’s worth remembering the resources we called on to get where we needed or wanted to go in the past.

We can still call on them today.

Our past resourcefulness gives us insights we can leverage now and in the future.

Image by Jukan Tateisi