“…people want an emotional connection with their work. In fact, I’ll take it a step further; people are desperate to be part of something bigger than themselves.”
- Lisa Earle McLeod (sales leadership expert and author)
Do you agree?
Back in 2011-2012 I went through a one year business program through the University at Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL). The “program enhances the talents and operation abilities of practicing entrepreneurs. This peer-based, mentor-driven program will empower you to overcome business challenges, create new opportunities and develop meaningful connections within the business community.”
And it did.
During the course of the program seminars were given on different subjects like financials, marketing, and human resources but the class that I connected most with was about ‘purpose’ or your ‘why.’ What is the driving force behind what you do? What is the shared purpose of your company? After I pondered this larger than life question I came to the realization that I wanted to improve quality of life with technology. This drives me in the way I propose a system to a client, and I now share my ‘why’ with them. It has become a shared purpose for the rest of the company as well, part of the undercurrent of our everyday business.
Recently a fellow AV friend respectfully disagreed claiming that ‘why’ really doesn’t matter. “The real answer to why would be because I want your job so I can get the funds so I can pay my mortgage and my employees and buy food for my family. At the end of the day that’s nearly everybody’s why for working.”
What do you think?
Simon Sinek tells us, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Yes, we all need to make a living and maybe for me, the pressure is off, for I am not the sole provider for my family. It is not the paycheck or the commission or the size of the job that moves me; it is the desire to make the clients life better. I understand how busy our American lives are, and at the end of the day, we want to forget about life for a while by turning on some great music or collapsing on the couch to escape in our favorite show. When that doesn’t work, it is frustrating. When it does, it makes us happy. No one ‘needs’ what we have to sell, but if we can help create the desire we open up a different approach to the sale. By letting the client know the company has a purpose, they can respond to the human aspect and not just the financial one.
Which coffee shop makes you want to buy a cup of coffee more?
Dunkin Donuts: Make and serve the freshest, most delicious coffee and donuts quickly and courteously in modern, well-merchandised stores.
Starbucks: to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.
We know Starbucks in more expensive, but I feel better about purchasing my coffee from them. Is this due to fancy business-speak or is it authentic? In a recent article on FastCompany.com Shawn Parr talks about how purpose and profit mix. He speaks of how Southwest Airlines was built on making travel accessible, “And 40 years later, their reason for being is still expressed and executed strategically across every facet of their business. ”Freedom to Fly" can be experienced by customers in three simple areas: low fares, lots of flights, and the friendliest service in the sky. They give their employees the freedom to keep fares low in every city they serve, and they are low by philosophy, not expediency. They provide the best customer service in the airline industry (in their parlance, Positively Outrageous Service). Their reason for being—their purpose—is expressed in every functional area of their business, and the difference shows in the customer experience as well as in their financial performance. They have enjoyed 40 consecutive years of profits, which is unheard of in the domestic airline industry.”
So, yes, we need to make money. We need to feed our families and we need to pay our mortgage, but don’t we want a greater reason to get out of bed in the morning? Don’t you want to give your employees that same drive?