It was the best of companies, it was the worst of companies. One built something that the people loved. It poured energy into delighting customers. Eventually, it was rewarded with a great fortune. The second company disregarded people. This company was mischievous and greedy. While it succeeded in the short-term, customers and employees eventually revolted. The company lost trust, along with its great fortune.
You are probably familiar with the “elevator pitch.” You know, the one-minute speech every seasoned salesperson has memorized to deliver at a moment’s notice. It may be a cliche, but like all cliches, it is rooted in some truth. And it could help you get hired.
Have you ever said “I love you” … to software? Maybe once or twice. One product that has earned my heartfelt devotion is the Strava cycling app. I use it on my morning rides to record my speed and routes. This real-time data provides a history of where I rode, with whom, and how fast (or slow) I went. Today’s ride: 25.2 miles at an average of 19.4 mph. Not too bad.
Would you ever eat a can of cat food? Under the right conditions, perhaps. On a dare or if you were hungry enough with nothing else to reach for. But cat food is created with felines in mind. For most humans, it would undoubtedly be edible, but nauseating. And you would probably not be inspired to crack open another can anytime soon.
Pushy sales people. Marketing claims that hover somewhere between an overreach and an outright lie. You know the kind of company I am talking about. Sadly, there are too many organizations that encourage employees to do or say anything to grow, grow, grow sales. I am sure you can imagine the closed-door conversations: “Who cares? Sam, just get the money!”
What? Love and business? Yep. It is a concept I explain in Lovability, my new book — it means building a product that customers love and a business where people can do meaningful work and be happy doing it. The word “lovability” sounds friendly, but achieving it is not easy. It requires honoring a deep responsibility to yourself and your co-workers.
“Comedy is not pretty!” That is the title of an old Steve Martin special and I have to agree with the sentiment. When you tell a joke you need to be ready for laughs and also prepare for the worst. Some nights, the audience might roll in the aisles with laughter. The next night? Tough crowd, tough crowd.
I do not believe in luck. I appreciate good fortune, but it is just not reliable enough to call a friend. Luck has no place in business because it is an unpredictable force. Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best will not get the job done. So what is predictable? Hard work, perseverance, and one more trait that might surprise you.
Being a fully distributed company means we can hire the best people regardless of where they live. We receive hundreds of resumes every week from applicants all over the world. But I am still surprised to see the incredible number of “gurus” who are applying for open roles at Aha! — I mean, what are the odds?
A friend just recently helped raise money for a fin-tech startup. Exciting times with lots of numbers to watch. Especially when it relates to having money in the bank to push that end-of-business death cliff out another 18 months. But all he could talk about was that it was an “up round.” (Barely, but still up.) I reminded him that for private companies there is one number that people obsess over, often causing more harm than good — valuation.
“Think like grandpa?” That may sound like backward advice. Times have changed. What could our grandparents possibly have to say about running a business today? Well, I think they have plenty to say.
So you are putting in another late night at the office. Tied up in meetings all day with no time to get to your real work. And just now catching up on 15 “urgent” emails from your boss. You are giving your best, most heartfelt effort — but it never seems to be enough. If love is truly evidenced by our actions, then you are showing plenty of it to your company leaders. But do they love you back?
People are unhappy at work. That is obvious. In a recent post I strongly suggested that leaders have a responsibility — to treat everyone with respect, set a positive example for the team, and create a framework for what success looks like. But what happens when leaders do not own up to that responsibility?
You can probably spot the signs. Sunday night blues. Feelings of “am I really making a difference.” I am not talking about the occasional bad day. No, this is an everyday pit-in-your-stomach malaise. You are miserable at work. Thankfully, it has been a while since I felt that way.