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Profit And…

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

My mother started working over sixty years ago. As the tenth child of a widow, with nothing more than a basic education she had very few choices. She could be a seamstress or a replaceable cog on the assembly line at one of any number of factories. Sadly the factory jobs won because those jobs were easier to get and didn’t involve apprenticing at a reduced wage. At the age of fourteen, she spent eight hours a day dipping toffees into icing at a sweet factory. She later graduated to standing guard over huge fryers of potato crisps. She and her friends lived for Friday’s brown paper envelope—the contents of which bought a little joy at the weekend.

A career needs to sustain us, and a business needs to make a profit to be sustainable. It could be argued that in recent times we’ve built our economies on the premise that profiting is the only function of business. But the businesses that are thriving have found a way to be about more than just a means to that end. Companies like Airbnb, Patagonia or Small Giants that put contribution and community at the centre of their business model and philosophy. Yes, your business needs to turn a profit, but that doesn’t have to be the only thing your company is committed to making.

My mother didn’t have a choice about how she could contribute. She didn’t have the privilege of thinking beyond earnings. We do. We have never had more power to take ownership of the present or to shape the future than we do today. We can start by figuring out what we intend to make besides money.

Image by Paul Townsend

How Are You Measuring Your Lead?

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

As a society, we have become obsessed with getting and staying ahead. We have become addicted to winning, and thus to comparing ourselves to others—not just in business, but in life too.

But being ahead, either materially or psychologically is a slippery slope to a mindset of never enough. A culture designed to separate us into winners and losers inevitably becomes one where we’re not winning unless someone else is losing. This limited worldview is a limiting foundation for our societies and our economies, our communities and our businesses. It’s also a poor measure of humanity and the change we are capable of creating.

Perhaps the bigger question to consider then is not how we measure our lead, but why we feel the need to compete and compare in the first place. It turns out that when we can set our own meaningful standard of success, we’ve already won by every measure.

Image by Kreg Steppe

The Difference Between Good And Great

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

The tiny Italian restaurant in Carlton is in full swing. It’s 6 pm, and a couple of experienced chefs are cranking out meals. The kitchen is a well-oiled machine, the oven is at capacity, as diners and Uber Eats drivers converge at once. The food is good. It’s just not great—unlike the food served at the Italian place we recently discovered in Auckland.

On the face of it, there’s little to differentiate the chefs in the two restaurants. Both teams work mostly silently and efficiently. They are well prepared, and everyone understands the role they play in making sure diners leave sated and satisfied. But there’s one thing the chefs in Auckland do that makes all the difference. In Carlton, nothing is tasted before it’s plated. In Auckland, the chefs taste everything without exception before they plate it. They are making a hundred micro-decisions about how to delight their customers every few minutes and adjusting as they go. That single act means they have to put themselves in the diner’s seat for a second. They have to imagine what it will feel like to experience their product. And that makes all the difference.

Good becomes great when we put the customer at the centre of everything we do.

Image by visitflanders

Victims Of Success

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

We’ve all been let down by a business we were loyal to or disappointed by a product we once loved. When we dissect what happened, it’s often possible to trace the missteps to a single source. Thriving businesses become victims of their success, and great products become mediocre when the people who built them forget how they got from there to here.

No matter how successful you become, the often intangible qualities that differentiated you in the beginning, will continue to be what keeps customers coming back.

Image by pkhamre

The Forgotten Power Of The Single Interaction

filed in Brand Strategy, Success

On a recent trip to Waiheke Island with my husband, we stopped a bus that wasn’t going our way. The driver told us to hop on anyway, and he’d take us to where we could catch a bus that would get us to where we wanted to go. Then, wait for it—he radioed ahead to the driver of that bus to let her know he had a couple of passengers on board who needed to catch her bus. She was waiting for us at the depot when we got there.

The driver of the wrong bus could simply have done his job. He could have told us to wait for the next bus that was due in twenty minutes. He could have decided that in the scheme of things this one interaction was insignificant. He chose to think otherwise.

In our globalised, digital world, as we try to hustle our way to making a bigger impact, it’s easy to forget that change doesn’t have to happen at scale. Just as a single well-placed domino in a domino run can knock all the dominos down one-by-one, we each have the power to change a day or a life in a single interaction. We don’t have to reach everyone all at once.

Image by Nina

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