Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Generosity is now a business model

All the talk about the "double dip recession" and the catastrophic end of the free economy as we know it has gotten a little out of hand I think. I know I am not alone in saying I can talk myself into end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it disaster thinking like so many pundits, respected economists, and commentators of our times. Just read your news feeds, or try and make real sense of the markets these days. Tough to do.

I think the real answer is we never actually emerged from the "Great Recession" as it's now being called, elevated to proper noun status. We may have passed the right number of quarters with "technically" positive GDP, but it still feels pretty rough out there.

In our business, thankfully, and truly I think as a result of the amazing teams I work with all over the country, our sales so far this year are up 11% over last year at this time. We seem to be doing something right, and here's hoping we can continue it. But that doesn't replace the still general consumer malaise out there. And the more we hear and speak about catastrophic doom and gloom the more we as business leaders perpetuate that. That's the easy thing to do - talk about how bad it will get. Like cutting expenses vs. the harder work of growing revenues. That's the easy road and the obvious way.

Generosity may not be such an obvious. But watch it emerge as a defining characteristic of great companies today.

I think all of us are ready for a little bit of positive. So, here's the thing ... if the company you work for, or those you admire from the sidelines and love to watch have survived this madness, I bet there is still something at the core that makes it what it is, despite the wild ride. For some, that core is deeper and more meaningful than others. And by all accounts, consumers care about that.

They care about what you stand for, and the commitments you make (and hopefully kept) no matter what is thrown your way. People are interested in seeing how your company thinks and how you arrive at your decisions.

What do you stand for?
How do you live it?
What sacrifices have you made to give back and be generous to others during this time when it's so easy to get in line with all the negativity?
How do you show up every day?
Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am very lucky to work with some amazing people who are not only some of the smartest and most creative I know, but who have made great personal sacrifices to get us through and help us stay on top.

That is generosity in it's finest form.
And I don't think it's going anywhere any time soon. Taking a cue from how customers are acting and sharing today, the post-crisis era will be defined by inclusion rather than exclusion.

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