Want a Powerful Business? Take Your Own Medicine
You’ve all been to the doctor at some point. There’s always that moment of truth where he tells you to change your bad habits, eat better, and exercise more. It all makes sense and is sound advice.
But how likely are you to follow his advice if he’s wheezing it out because he weighs 350 lbs. and you keep getting distracted by the piece of Ho Ho hanging off his lower lip? Not so much, right?
As a trainer, coach, and communicator I dispense more than my fair share of advice and guidance. A lot of it even makes sense. Occasionally. But there’s something I find more difficult than just about every other aspect of my job: taking my own advice.
The weird thing is I regularly advise leaders on how to improve their businesses yet I sometimes get lazy about doing the same exact things I tell them to do. Why do I demonstrate this shortcoming? Maybe it’s pure sloth. Maybe I run under the misguided belief that all the things I advise others to do I must naturally do myself in my own business dealings.
Then one of my friends proves me wrong. When you surround yourself with incredibly smart people, they tend to ask some really smart questions. Needless to say I get asked smart questions quite frequently. If you stop and listen to those questions though (either from others or the ones you’d ask yourself if you were dispensing advice to you) you can make your business exponentially more powerful. Here’s how:
You Learn from the Best: YOU
You’re good at what you do. That’s why you do it. You’re a leader in your field. Your customers probably pay you a decent amount of money for your time and talent.
What would you pay for someone else to provide such expert advice on how to improve your business? A lot, right?
Well guess what – YOU’RE FREE! If you’ll simply build time into your schedule to improve your business instead of focusing 100% of your effort on driving your customers’ results, the payoff can be huge.
Example: I was recently teaching a strategy session and pounding on the importance of having a compelling vision for the organization. I pushed folks hard to realize the vision can drive dramatic shifts in performance if it’s compelling enough.
One of my colleagues, Alan Veeck, asked me “so what’s the vision for thoughtLEADERS?” Stone silence. I made something up on the spot. It wasn’t compelling. I made an excuse that we’re a small business so it wasn’t that important to have a compelling vision because all the team members are highly motivated. Wrong. I looked dumb. Big time dumb.
Alan offered up “Our vision is to have our training be delivered to leading organizations around the world on a daily basis.” Said more simply, the sun never sets on thoughtLEADERS‘ training (to steal a page from the imperial Brits).
Guess what? We’re looking at opportunities differently because of this more global focus. We’re evaluating how our business model needs to change to support such audacity. And it’s changing for the better. Why? Because Alan served up a big heaping tablespoon of our own medicine.
A Brand is a Promise. Promises Require Consistency
You’re out there selling a message to the world. All your goods and services are based on that singular message. But what happens when there’s an inconsistency in that brand? It undermines its value and selling power.
Imagine a company billed itself as the greenest purveyor of staplers on the planet. Everyone gets excited about these greener staplers and buys them for the less harmful effects on the planet even though they cost $187.50 each.
Then one day the 20/20 story gets out showing how Green Staples, Inc. is not using their own staplers at corporate headquarters but are instead using the much cheaper model from their rival, Planet Destroying Staples LLC. How is that going to go over?
Taking your own medicine can create consistency in your business. We all know we’re much more likely to buy a product from someone who uses it themselves as well. I’m not just the Hair Club president, I’m also a client…
EXAMPLE: we teach people how to communicate more logically and clearly. I wrote a crappy email the other day. It was a humongous blob of text. There was no structure to it. No flow. No core message (sorta like some of my blog posts…). Luckily, before I hit send, I reminded myself we sell services related to structured thought and communications.
I took a few extra minutes and put structure to the email. I cleaned up how it was written. I made the core points stand out clearly and concisely.
I received a very positive response to that sharper message (it was actually a proposal for some new work RELATED TO OUR COMMUNICATIONS TRAINING). I know it’s a simple example but it makes the point.
So today, take a moment and reflect on what your business is about. Understand what it is that makes you great at what you do. Then throw a critical eye to how you manage and lead your organization to see if you’re putting into practice all the things you tell the market to do.
If you do, great. If not, get to work.
I liked your opening with the doctor Mike. It reminded me of Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote, "Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying."
By practicing what we preach we build our own authority in the eyes of those who are looking. That authority translates into an opportunity to be more persuasive which means better chances for success in whatever you do.
I believe it was Aesop who wrote "Physician, Heal thyself."
As a proponent of Free and Open Source software (FOSS), I am often struc by FOSS based companies that routinely run Oracle DB and Microsoft Exchange.
I remember at WP being told time and time again that my job was to think, to lead, to be creative, and then when the time came to execute in the field, it was very "Lock step, LT do as you are told." I think the Army, at least in the places where the fighting is the worst, has returned to the decentralized leadership style that seems to work so well.
Really good post. Mike.