In the marketing workshops I conduct for various companies, I often open with a slide showing the following legends: Steve Jobs, Howard Schultz, Walt Disney, Fred Smith, and Truett Cathy. I then ask… how many of you think these chaps are or were geniuses?
Inevitably just about every hand goes up… I then say, I have no idea what officially makes a genius, but if you claim they are geniuses you are giving yourself an out! I get stares of huh? And it starts to sink in when I say, think about it — if you sit back and claim they are geniuses you are basically saying they are not like you, and worse, you can never be like them… that somehow they are in a totally different class and it isn’t even worthwhile studying them. You basically marginalize them and make them irrelevant!
Not to take away from these guys, but what they did was focus relentlessly and passionately on their customers… their needs, wants, desires… so much so, that they were able to anticipate their needs even before their customers knew it! Oh, and one other thing… they truly love/loved their companies, and its importance to their customers and employees… Much of this manifested in the “small things” that you might not see or notice, but they did, for it represented their personal integrity and the values of their brand…. whether it was the little screws that no one would notice inside a computer, or the scrubbing of a plane’s wheels before its next delivery, or a manager escorting customers to their car with an umbrella in the rain, or the smile and welcome on every employee’s face, or the willingness to let people enjoy their coffee as long as they want and never get kicked out. Pretty basic stuff isn’t it? And the best part? You don’t need a Harvard MBA to emulate this kind of behavior!