Is It About You or Them? Make a Choice

By this time, it was mass chaos. Exacerbating matters was the fact that this was a post–September 11th world, where cute disguises don’t go over so well with airport security or law enforcement. Still thinking it was a heart attack, a defibrillator was used to shock me as Lindsay looked on in complete horror.

This is an excerpt from a story that my good friend, John Ruhlin, tells about his proposed engagement in his new book, Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention

John reflects on the situation and notes that his elaborate plan to dress up as an old man and surprise his then girlfriend was based on the fact that he loves surprises. She would have been happy with something simple and the engagement should have been more about her rather than him.

John then expounds on this notion and comments, “We make a gift all about us. It’s our event, our colors, our themes, our preferences, our whatever—and it has little to do with the recipient. Be thoughtful about what’s motivating you, and be honest with yourself…[giving] isn’t about stepping into the spotlight—it’s about shining the light on someone else.

This principle of putting others first and genuinely serving them applies to every Goldfish concept. Too often, companies and people are quick to ask how the Goldfish concepts can build the top-line instead of giving from a generous heart to make the lives of the people that they serve better. Here’s a synopsis of the Goldfish:

Purple Goldfish- Give the little things to your customers to touch their hearts and create a better experience.  

Green Goldfish- Go beyond dollars to drive employee engagement and reinforce culture.

Golden Goldfish- Take extra special care of the top 20% of your customers and employees.

Blue Goldfish- Leverage technology to create a better customer experience and differentiate from competition.

Red Goldfish- Embrace purpose to drive employee and customer engagement, and make an impact on the lives of those the purpose serves.

When most people hear those concepts, they typically comment that they share these values and believe that they they’re important, but…

That’s when all of the “but’s” begin to set in and negate everything that was said before:

  • We have to experience growth and have quantifiable metrics and returns for our shareholders and investors. We can’t gamble on an “expensive” initiative and not have it correlate to results.
  • My boss and the board just don’t share these ideals.
  • We just don’t have time. We’re too busy.

On and on it goes. What starts as a positive, fruitful discussion transitions into the same old focus of financial results and nothing more. Oftentimes people will even comment and talk about participating in these business principles but it’s almost always about them and their organization. For example:

  • You give nice gifts branded with your logo to try and buy the loyalty of customers.
  • You’re nice to your employees because it’s expensive to replace them.
  • You invest in technology to alleviate long-term costs.
  • You establish a “purpose” as though it’s a marketing campaign to convey how thoughtful and philanthropic you are.

What can you do about this? Here are the three easy steps that you can take immediately:

1. Make a deliberate choice. You don’t have to overhaul your entire organization today to embrace these principles. You simply need to be intentional about positively impacting your customers and employees and make this the focus of your decision-making. Make it about the people that you serve and the strategic plan and little bits of action will follow.

2. Be the catalyst for positive change. If you truly believe that giving, serving, and making a positive difference in the lives of others then why have you not made this clear to your organization? Is it because you’re afraid of being talked about, not fitting in, detracting focus, or temporarily failing? Relentless commitment to creating and sharing vision with others is how positive change will permeate in your business.

3. Establish a plan. Would our team like to work with you to make executing these principles faster and easier? Of course. However, you can do this yourself if you’re willing to take little bits of daily action to intentionally design your customer experience, employee engagement, technology, and purpose. When you figure out what the right inputs are then you’ll inherently discover how they correlate to your top-line results.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – If you have an hour, check out Lewis Howes interviewing John Ruhlin about the principles of radical generosity. It’s worth your time!