social business

HEART-ORIENTED BUSINESS: A life of warmth, a business characterized by vitality

“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future”
-Charles F. Kettering (American Engineer)

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
– William Pollard (Chairman Emeritus, The Servicemaster Company)

“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”
-Bill Drayton (Ashoka Founder)

We live in times when business MUST be social. The old models of cold, removed CEOs and GMs who are not accessible is OVER! The wisest CEO and GM is up front, with the customer, with the vendor, with the supplier, with the competitor even, smiling, shaking hands and getting to know the parea surrounding his/her products and services. Social business is 100% about the heart.

The old adage about following your heart to true wealth, the wealth your organization and YOU need is TRUE. One does not need to look far for confirmation of this truth. The shop owner whose door is wide open from early in the morning to late in the evening, whose pavement is set up with chair and tables, whose radio is playing uplifting and positive music, whose shelves are piled with what his/her customer wants and needs, who extends an invitation to a community event, who knows his neighborhood and gives to its real needs…this person is respected AND loved!

Stewart Emery, co-founder of The Human Potential Movement, has said, “We should call normal the person who awakens each morning with shining eyes, seeing each day as a gift, clearly centered in what they are passionate about and committed to a practice of getting better and better and better at it and living a life that’s a gift to the world, welcoming people of all ethnicities and persuasions with respect and WARMTH!” (Source).

To be a social business, one must be focused on the heart of the people one works with and serves. Their bright eyes are all around you and looking to YOU to give and contribute. If there ever was a time for YOU to give, the time is NOW. Stepping down from the mountain of opacity and into the warm waters of transparency is a liberating experience. When the north steps into the vibe of the south, miracles occur. When the right unbuttons a few buttons, removes the cuff links, rolls up the sleeves and gets into the fray, into the dance, LIFE is possible and VITALITY infuses the project, the sale, and the organization.

Bill Pollard, former chairman of The Servicemaster Company, argues that “one of the most important factors of the success and growth of [his] business” was the “simple truth of recognizing the potential, dignity, and worth of the individual.” Pride in the results of ones work (and therefore a desire to do quality work regardless of compensation or working conditions) begins with “dignity, pride of accomplishment, and recognition for a job well done.”

There is story told from Pollard’s company of a man who worked in Atlanta at an industrial plant. The executives of Servicemaster were visiting the plant with the founder of the company. As the executives looked out upon the floor, this man was pushing a HUGE industrial machine up a ramp with other men. For a moment, the machine rolled backwards. And AT THAT MOMENT, this man put his back into the job and gave a magnificent push. Rallied by this man’s effort, the others followed suit and the machine easily crested the top of the ramp. One of Servicemaster’s executives turned to the other’s present and said, “Give me that man’s name and have him meet us tomorrow here.” It was not too much later that this same blue-collar worker became a trainee with Servicemaster, then an assistant manager, then a manager, then a leader in the C-Suite at the headquarters.

This story is an image of what the HEART must do in these times. Those who bring heart to their efforts win. In times like these, men and women are called to approach one another AND their work with blood, sweat and tears. I would argue that governments, corporations, the eco-system and families are ALL at the same place as that industrial machine. The efforts humanity has made to solve multiple problems caused by previous generations is truly astounding. The recent donation made by Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, the amazing work of the Gates Foundation globally and the recent awarding by Google of $10 million to 5 world-changing ideas are just a few examples of the very real efforts humans are making to push that industrial machine OVER THE CREST!

CEOs, GMs and Managers globally would do well to look at the 21 Principles of Servicemaster, an organization devoted 100% to service, and consider how to apply these principles to a heart-based business:

1. We are opportunity seekers, not entitlement takers. We create and earn and cannot afford to sit and inherit.
2. We are value driven and performance oriented.
3. We eat our own cooking. We bet the egg money on our own performance.
4. We train and run for both the sprint and marathon. We rest, have fun, never quit, and always seek to learn.
5. We plan for succession and develop our future leaders.
6. The truth of what we say is told by what we do. “If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.”
7. If we cannot serve and sell with a passion for excellence, we cannot lead.
8. We believe in what we sell and deliver.
9. As we provide extraordinary service, we bring value-added to the customer that cannot be duplicated.
10. There are no friendly competitors.
11. We believe in a lean and disciplined organization. We would rather buy a grand piano than employ or assign one unnecessary person.
12. We pay based on performance and promote based on potential, not belief, tenure, gender, race, or friendships.
13. Those who produce the profits should share in the profits. Those who produce more should share more.
14. We make and beat budgets.
15. We seek to know and increase our market share so that we can grow and increase the profitability and value of our business.. If we ignore our market share, we run the risk of losing our market and our business.
16. When we are wrong or fail, we admit it. Truth cannot be compromised. We report on what has occurred or is anticipated, not on what will make us look good.
17. We promote others, not ourselves. We shoot against par.
18. We must have a spirit of independence without the malady of autonomy.
19. The customer comes first and should be our friend.
20. We are all prisoners of our hope. It is our hope that sustains us, and it is our vision for what could be that inspires us and those we lead. “Don’t doubt in the dark what you have seen in the light.”
21. We have all been created in God’s image, and the results of our leadership will be measured beyond the workplace. The story will be told in the changed lives of people.

YOUR 1,001 NIGHTS: You have created your own best medicine through the stories within stories upon your Wall

People are moved by stories and drama and hints and clues and discovery. ~Seth Godin

YOUR SOURCE IS A GUIDE: There is a thread of vitality in everyone’s life worth tapping into. It is a stream that has run downhill to you from a great river teeming with YOUR KIND. Do what you can to follow that stream to the river and then devote your life to discovering the river’s source. It is this SOURCE that the human soul seeks MORE than anything else for it holds answers to ALL of our most personal questions (most of which DO NOT even have words).

I would argue that one’s passion IS a powerful resource in facing the world’s winds and waves. ACTION STEP: Discover the tribe around YOUR SOURCE through simple keywords used in the Facebook search window. You will find friends, discussions and groups oriented around YOUR passion immediately upon pushing SUBMIT. Here’s more on how to do this.

BIG BRANDS WILL PAY YOU FOR YOUR STORY: We live in a renaissance period of self-discovery through story. Robert McKee, the author of Story (one of THE best books for screenwriters on the planet!), writes, “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.” I would submit to the reader that over the course of the last year YOU have written a fantastic STORY through your Facebook status field, Twitter field and YouTube Channel (if you don’t have one, get one!) And I would suggest to you that there is TREMENDOUS value in this story for you and your tribes!

The next big revolution is YOU making money on advertising for BIG BRANDS who spot your channel and want to advertise to your 100’s of millions of subscribers!!!) ACTION STEP: The arrival of big money to invisible, yet super-creative, storytellers revolutionizes the publishing and media industry big time! Watch how YouTube and GoogleTV effectively pull this off over the next 12-48 months. Set up your YouTube channel today and research GoogleTV.

SEE YOUR BIGGEST CRITICS AS YOUR GREATEST ALLIES: Behind the scenes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, there are bean-counters who are interested in the big numbers BUT do they understand or want to understand the dynamics of story and how to weave a tale that wraps even the most pessimistic person into a tale of romance.

Discovering the power of story and the formulas that work on the heart and emotion has been an activity for years in the entertainment industry and in the marketing world. On a human level, stories save lives every day and the advent of social networks/ platforms for telling collective stories allows humanity to transform curmudgeons, pessimists and naysayers into enthusiastic communicators of their passion. I would add that the greatest Critics are my favorite allies for their ability to see through a story to its heart. It has been said that the Optimist created the airplane and Pessimist created the parachute. ACTION STEP: Write down who your greatest critics are and what they say about your creative actions in the world. Then write down how these critiques help you refine your offering.

THE ARABIAN NIGHTS METAPHOR: Perhaps one of the greatest examples in literature of a story wherein the storyteller transformed her audience is that of Scheherazade in The Arabian Nights.

The main frame story concerns a Persian king and his new bride. He is shocked to discover that his brother’s wife is unfaithful; discovering his own wife’s infidelity has been even more flagrant, he has her executed: but in his bitterness and grief decides that all women are the same. The king, Shahryar, begins to marry a succession of virgins only to execute each one the next morning, before she has a chance to dishonour him. Eventually the vizier, whose duty it is to provide them, cannot find any more virgins. Scheherazade, the vizier’s daughter, offers herself as the next bride and her father reluctantly agrees. On the night of their marriage, Scheherazade begins to tell the king a tale, but does not end it. The king is thus forced to postpone her execution in order to hear the conclusion. The next night, as soon as she finishes the tale, she begins (and only begins) a new one, and the king, eager to hear the conclusion, postpones her execution once again.

So it goes on for 1,001 nights.

The tales vary widely: they include historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies, poems, burlesques and various forms of erotica. Numerous stories depict djinn, magicians, and legendary places, which are often intermingled with real people and geography, not always rationally; common protagonists include the historical caliph Harun al-Rashid, his vizier, Ja’far al-Barmaki, and his alleged court poet Abu Nuwas, despite the fact that these figures lived some 200 years after the fall of the Sassanid Empire in which the frame tale of Scheherazade is set. Sometimes a character in Scheherazade’s tale will begin telling other characters a story of his own, and that story may have another one told within it, resulting in a richly layered narrative texture. (SOURCE)

YOUR 1,001 NIGHTS: The complexity of the Arabian Nights is a fantastic image of the complexity in social networks. Our stories have stories within stories and nowhere is this more evident as one travels the thread of comments on a Facebook image, a blogpost or a YouTube video. Every comment has the potential through a link to carry one into an entirely new story and so on.

Communities like StumbleUpon are another fantastic example of the “babushka effect” of the Internet. At StumbleUpon, one may enter a variety of keywords and then get link suggestions that lead to further suggestions and so on. Creating a tale from your discoveries on the internet, from mashing up the various universes you visit and personalities you meet on this journey creates value for you and your tribe. I would submit that your Facebook wall itself IS just one place to read your story of the past 1,001 nights. I would also suggest that it contains valuable medicine for transforming whatever you feels threatens you.ACTION:Write down what one year of Facebook statuses or Tweets tell you about yourself. What is the MOST consistent message you are telling yourself OVER AND OVER AGAIN through these fields?

FUNDING YOUR STORY: There are so many options now for finding funding from YOUR donors, Venture Capital that loves YOUR content and from YOUR tribe. Start with the fantastic tool Kickstarter! Check out the ultimate Crowdsourcing wiki here.

An Open Invitation to The Babyboomers from Gen X and Gen Y

We, as members of Generations X, Y and the Millenials, wish to communicate the following message to the Babyboomers running this planet.

We begin with respectful gratitude to you, our parents and grandparents, for conceiving and birthing the bodies and world we thrive and live within. We respectfully honor all of the incredible advances in every discipline that have led to better lives for every one of us on this planet. We attribute our own creativity, knowledge and burgeoning wisdom to the truly incredible education system built and paid for by you, our predecessors. We honor the way you have defended us against violence and opened new possibilities for peace heretofore unrealized.

At the same time, we announce to you our wholesale rejection of your conflicts, prejudices and entrenched interests. Our current experience of the negative results to our eco-system, communities and economics from these shadow aspects of your generation’s psyche require us for the sake of our children and your grandchildren to now step forward and alter certain paths elected by you and The Traditionalists since the major world wars in the early 20th century.

Now that a majority of you are reaching retirement age and what the Hindu system calls “the forest-dweller stage”, we as The Central Householders on this planet require a set of fresh perspectives in the major disciplines and verticals, such as politics, economics and environmental policy, so that our planet, communities, food sources and children are protected.

Due to the severity of events in several significant theaters of action, particularily finance, political-process and ecological preservation, we respectfully ask that you join us to hear some fabulous ideas from the forward thinking leaders of our generation. We want you there because you gave us the foundation for this thought and invention to come about. We want to show you, Mom and Pop, Grandpa and Grandma, Uncle and Aunt, Mentor and Teacher, what we have come up with as part of our assignment to make a better world. We hope you’ll come and we think you’ll like what we have in mind.

Our goal is a healthier, wiser and more effective human family, well-equipped to heal, guide and protect our children and your grandchildren into a fabulous and exciting future that will contain astounding technologies, well-woven/integrated communities and children motivated to live and thrive. As we see it, this is truly possible and we have seen a glimpse of it through the rapidly expanding communities of thought, invention and innovation in our online and offline worlds. These worlds are increasingly being woven together globally through the social fabric of the internet, through technologies in multiple verticals and through our innate drive to survive as humans.

We characterize this drive to survive in our generation primarily through meaning. The social fabric of the internet, our primary vehicle for communication, is driven by a search for meaning. In fact, studies show that The Millennials, the latest generation on this planet to hold credit cards and turn in resumes, are characterized as the generation in search of Meaning. These torch-bearers of humanity want work, communities and activities that amount to something more than accumulation of wealth and property. Their definition of wealth is spiritual, emotional and communal.

Understand that we have no choice at this time but to ask you to step down from those aspects of your leadership that involve the wholesale raping of this planet and one another FOR THE EXPRESS INTEREST OF OUR MUTUALLY SHARED CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN. Understand also, that for those of you who cannot or choose not to hear us due to greed, entrenched interests and general allegience to an out-dated paradigm of consumeristic accumulation, we may need to remove you by force. We honor your courage and vigor in building the worlds you have built…these edifices are truly monumental. But now, in this time, we require that you re-orient toward the survival of the planet, its species and the beautifully woven cultures of the world.

With Kind Regards and Good Intentions,

GenX, GenY and The Millenials