The more we love, the more we thrive… in action

I caught up with Fabrice last night. Fabrice is a good friend of mine who works for Accenture - a large consulting company where I worked a lifetime ago. A little while back I told him a bit about what we are up to with Love Your Business, and gave him a new business card. On the back of the card (as well as on our website and email signature) it says the more we love, the more we thrive.

Last night Fabrice told me something very cool.

He told me that he often thinks about that phrase - the more we love, the more we thrive. And that whenever he has a difficult situation at work he tries to apply it. He thinks how can I bring love into this situation. He remembers that everyone involved is doing their best.

I was inspired ... And it's something that I am going to apply more consciously myself.

What parts of your business or your life could use a bit more love?

Small Business PNG Style

I had my most unusual business coaching session for the year last night, with Francis and Cecilia from the village of Veifa'a in Papua New Guinea.

My brother Jon and his wife Fiona lived in Veifa'a for a couple of years as part of a volunteers abroad program (there are now numerous babies and toddlers named Jon and Fiona in the village). They become good friends with Francis and Cecilia, and were adopted into their respective clans. And now they have brought them out to Australia for a holiday.

They plan to take back a laptop and an old printer / scanner / copier to start a letter writing and photocopying business in their village. Jon asked me to give them a pro bono business coaching session. And I have to say, doing business in a PNG village has its advantages!

We talked about a few of the domains in the Love Your Business Model. Marketing isn't going to be too much of a challenge. As soon as they start, everyone in the village will know. And within a few days, so will everyone in the neighbouring villages. There's your marketing plan. Tax? You don't start paying tax until you are a big business, so finance is simplified also.

  We looked at other possible revenue streams. There are lots of mobile phones in the village, but very few power sources. One of the start up costs for the business in buying a generator to charge the laptop and run the printer. So a side line will be charging people's mobile phones - the going rate is between two and five kina.

While there are definitely differences in doing business PNG Style, the Entrepreneurial Spirit is the same. The possibility of creating something from nothing, connecting a product to a market, providing something that makes a difference while improving life for yourself and your family. The thrill of hanging up your shingle, and being open for business.

If you are ever passing through Veifa'a and need a letter written, or some photocopying done, I recommend Inoino Office Services - tell them Pete sent you.

What business are you in?

Every business - including yours - is in the business of having people feel better ... whether you know it or not.

The primary motivation and the key consequence of everything we do is how we feel. Every action we take is to move away from pain or towards pleasure. Everything we do is in order to feel better. Sigmund Freud called this the Pleasure Principle: he said it motivates all human activity.

Why is this important in your business?

Because it is true for your customers too. They make purchases from you in order to feel better. When they buy your product or service, they are actually buying how that product or service will make them feel.

And it is the same for your staff ... their performance is based on how they feel. If you understand that you are in the business of having people feel better, and your competitors don't, you are like the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind. This insight can reframe how you think about your product or service, how you tailor your marketing message and how you interact with your prospects and customers.

Richard Branson gets it. He says:

The idea that business is simply a numbers affair has always struck me as preposterous. For one thing I've never been particularly good at numbers, but I think I've done a reasonable job of feelings. And I'm convinced that it is feelings - and feelings alone - that account for the successes of the Virgin brand in all of its myriad forms.

I have a friend, Cameron, who also gets it. He is a mechanic. He noticed a very strange thing about his customers. They are happy to pay $1,000 to have their car repaired - but the thing they rave about is the free car wash, the car wash that would normally cost no more than $15.

In Cameron's waiting room, he provides his customers with a TV, magazines, comfortable couches, and coffee and tea. He does this because he realises that he is in the business of having people feel better. And he does lots of little things that have nothing to do with fixing cars, and everything to do with making people feel better.

It's one simple idea - and it has the power to transform your whole business.

What business are you in?

Obama mania

We have a weekly team meeting first thing Monday morning, and we start with everyone sharing the most inspiring thing that happened for them over the last week. This week half the team (me included) mentioned the US elections as their inspiration.

What is it that is so inspiring about Obama?

One thing for me is, he is - as Newsweek says - genuinely self-aware. From the fantastic series of just-released Newsweek articles on the presidential campaign:

Obama was something unusual in a politician: genuinely self-aware. In late May 2007, he had stumbled through a couple of early debates and was feeling uncertain about what he called his "uneven" performance. "Part of it is psychological," he told his aides. "I'm still wrapping my head around doing this in a way that I think the other candidates just aren't. There's a certain ambivalence in my character that I like about myself. It's part of what makes me a good writer, you know? It's not necessarily useful in a presidential campaign."

(with thanks to Jonah Lehrer's blog and Mike for forwarding it to me).

In the LYB System we teach about The Skill - how to take actions that have you and others feel better. This is something that Obama has in spades ... He is having people feel better all over the planet.

I believe his self-awareness is an integral part of this. He notices how he is feeling, and understands the cause of this. He is also brilliant at tapping into how others are feeling.

These are both also critical attributes for running a business. To have others feel better (which is what we are all about in business) you have to be able to determine how they are feeling in the first place. And the best way to do that is to have the self-awareness to be able to notice your own feelings.

Virgin sacrifices 13 at the altar

In yesterday’s newspaper, The Age, there was a story of how Virgin Atlantic sacked 13 of its cabin staff after they criticised the airline and some of its passengers on the social networking website, Facebook. The official reason given was that the staff’s behaviour was "totally inappropriate" and "brought the company into disrepute".

I say they were sacked because they weren’t loving the business. They weren’t even respecting it. And I think it’s a great move from Virgin – I love it.

Some people are under the misapprehension that love in business is about being nice. It’s not. And let me say upfront how much I hate nice. You can tell me I’m ugly, I’m full of it ... you can insult my mother. But don’t call me nice. Actually ... probably better to leave my mother out of it too. But I digress. Love in business is not about being nice.

A client of mine had an issue with a new team member a few weeks back. This guy (the new staff member, not my client) took a sick day in his first week. Took another sick day the following Monday, which happened to the be the Monday after his team had won the grand final. And he treated it as business as usual.

My client asked me what to do, whether to give him another chance, have a talk to him. I said no. This guy wasn’t loving or respecting the business. And my client knew how it was going to end. In his heart he knew the guy wasn’t going to last. Better to rip the bandaid off in one go as soon as you know than try and be nice about it.

Loving the business is a standard. Virgin says that you have to be proud of Virgin to work there. We say make sure your people treat the business with the love and respect it deserves.

Are your people loving your business?