Love as a Business Strategy
When we talk about the need to "create value," we're talking about making a very real and discernable difference. For all of us, no matter whom we depend upon for our daily bread, that means making our customers love us.
If people buy from you because you give them the cheapest price, they'll buy from the next guy for the same reason. When we create business propositions around cutting prices, I'm reminded of a joke about a man and a woman in a bar. The punch line concludes with the recently face-slapped man answering, "We've already determined what you are. Now we're just haggling over the price." That type of transaction in the bar and the ones that we engage in predicated on discounting are not healthy, are of questionable character and are devoid of value and meaning. We not only can do better than that—we must.
If your customers buy from you because of the love that you show them and because they love you, you can profit more—both in your bank account and your heart. You need to know this—people don't buy with their heads. They buy with their hearts. You don't compete for their money. You compete for their feelings and emotions. If you touch the hearts of the people you serve, they will be loyal and become partners. Engage their emotions and they'll become raving fans. Raving fans don't just give you referrals. They become your ambassadors and evangelists.
Is there room for soft-hearted words like "love" in the world of business? In our self-important universe of trade and commerce, can we use this kind of language? I believe it is critical that we use it and live it. Speaker and author Tim Sanders wrote the bestseller, "Love Is The Killer App" and challenges business people to become "love cats." He argues that the way to fix your future is to fix yourself and that in today's world the road to prosperity is paved with a commitment to generosity.
Milton Mayeroff in his philosophical book, "On Caring", defines love as "the selfless promotion of the growth of the other." When we help others grow and become their best selves, we are being loving and we grow. It is one of the most amazing counter-intuitive realities of this world; the more we give, the more we gain. I speak of this in the presentation that I've given at several industry events entitled "How Full Is Your Bucket?" We each carry an imaginary bucket and when that bucket is full of positive feelings, we operate in our zone, at our best and at peak performance. When our bucket gets emptied through the negative emotions of others, we cannot be or do our best. But the very best way to fill our own buckets back up is to consciously and conscientiously be filling the buckets of others.
So what does it mean to bring love into our professional lives and how does that create value? I like Sanders' definition: "Love is the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your knowledge, networks and compassion with your business partners." When we are openly human with each other great things can happen. We can operate from the perspective of assuming positive intentions from each other and not creating drama skits of ulterior motives.
Some brilliant business minds have stated that the purpose of business is to make a profit or to maximize return to share holders. I could not disagree with that more. It leaves no room for the most powerfully motivating force on the planet: love. Love can propel you forward and give you a sense of meaning and satisfaction, which will help you do your best work and be your best you. The purpose of work is not to maximize profit. It is to come together to do good things, to help each other and bring about important and lasting changes to our society and our planet.
We can build relationships, learn from each other and openly share our knowledge; expand and connect our networks of value-driven people, and express our true selves despite the harried pace we set for ourselves and our business partners. We can hold each other to higher standards and demand from each other that we leave everything we touch better than we found it. And we can live out our values and do good things not because we expect a return on goodness, but simply because it is the right thing to do. We can believe in a karmic quid pro quo, but it should not order our days. Do the right thing because you want to be the right person.
The passion and compassion that you bring to your customers, your supplier partners, your associates and your world are what defines you. Compassion and generosity are the best strategies for individual and organizational prosperity. We must be people of value with the right values. Together we can make a difference for good.