“Try not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein
Webster’s definition for the word value is, “A fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged; relative worth, utility, or importance.” Without value, your product, project, or purpose will live a very short life. value is the proverbial glue for the ideas, people and profits you seek to create.
The Emperor Has No Clothes
There’s an old Danish fairy tale by Hans Christen Anderson that tells of an emperor who cared for nothing more than his wonderful clothes. One day, a pair of swindlers came to town and boasted of a special cloth that was invisible to those who lacked wisdom. Concerned over whether or not he could see the clothes himself, the emperor instructed two of his servants to view the cloth. The servants were too worried to admit that they could not see the clothes, and they pronounced their brilliance.
The emperor then clothed himself in the imaginary garments and proceeded to parade himself through the town. The townspeople, also hearing of the fallacy surrounding the cloth did not want to appear unwise, and they too praised the emperors garb. Finally, a child near the end of the precession shouted, “But he has nothing on.” The people began to whisper until everyone watching the emperor began to shout, “The Emperor has no clothes!”
The fairy tale was crafted to illustrate the truth that is often found behind the eyes of a child. Children often see through the pomp and circumstance, the proverbial noise of a situation, and can clearly expose its true identity. Despite the power of the emperor and the Brand of the office he held, he ultimately became a laughing stock. Everyone realized that his greatness was no more than a facade. When true value is present, it’s not hard to see. It is pure, and it is real.
Changing of the Guard
I was recently told a story of an officer in the US Department of Commerce who worked with the Chinese. The officer was unique in that he took the time to not only become an authority on the products and services he represented, but to also become a student of the customs and protocol of the ecosystem. He was well respected and had an incredible personal brand. His value proposition was strong and his ambassador equity with the Chinese was at an unprecedented level.
The officer eventually retired from his post and was replaced by another very capable officer of commerce. The new officer, while skilled at his work, did not conduct his affairs with the same level of excellence and respect as his predecessor. He thought he was only there for commerce, but seemed to forget that the key to his success was in building and maintaining relationships. His attention to the customs and sensitivities of his surroundings waned and the value equity suffered. The result was a strained relationship with the Chinese and a decreased number of American imports in the region.
This is a great lesson for any CEO, business owner, territory manager, or person in a position where past and current relationships must be stewarded. The brand can be the greatest in the world, but if the value proposition of the past is not honored in the future, all can be lost.
The Bonding Agent
I have a good friend who is developing a new, sports related health bar. Initially, he ran into problems keeping his ingredients in bar form. He had an uphill battle and searched for a solution for over two years. His goal was to have a 100% certified organic bar that was also gluten free. Gluten is a proven bonding agent, but is also quite unhealthy for digestion. You can see his dilemma. No one wants to buy a health bar that crumbles. Eventually, he found an organic, healthy and tasty bonding agent. It has become his trade secret and I can personally say the product tastes incredible!
Value equity is the bonding agent for your ideas and your initiatives. If the value can be created and communicated, you then have the power to exploit your brand and acquire ambassadors for it. value equity is tough to attain, and as my friend experienced, you may not always be able to use the same ingredients as the rest of the crowd. But, the fact that your product, project, or purpose is different is what creates the real value.
- Brian Church is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of a consulting firm called Ambassadors International. Brian’s book, Relationship Momentum, is about the secret to making ideas and initiatives move. Brian lives with his wife Kimberly and son in Nashville, TN. His mission is to help Entre and Intrapreneurs activate their ideas by creating movement in a consistent direction.