“It’s just business” is just bunk

Sure, for many out there, inwardly focused on amassing more and more and more and everyone else be damned, business may not be personal. In that case it’s about one person winning and others losing. But I’d wager there that such a person is denying that it’s personal to avoid feelings of guilt. Not always. But often.

We humans are a funny lot. We’re not wired to be automatons. We’re emotional, irrational, unpredictable beings. We can’t be turned off, rebooted, or reprogrammed (unless we make a concious decision and the effort to do so ourselves).

And that makes business personal. With all of the tools companies have at their disposal to personalize business, why not create unique experiences for your customers? You have behavioral targeting on the web that customizes content to suit the searcher. You have the ability for mass customization. Burger King was on to something when they said Have it Your Way. Now you really can. There’s little excuse for impersonal business outside of shear commodities no one cares about. And even then it gets personal if you’re in the business of selling them – building the partnerships and relationships that lead to sales success.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the personal side of business. From meeting a couple great Twitter friends in real life and connecting in Twitterverse which has humanized the people behind the avatars to seeing the effects of the Tsunami in Japan. Experiencing the loss of a colleague to cancer last December – way before his time. And learning last month that my dear sister has cancer and now begins the fight – and making it three out of three sisters who’ve had or have cancer. {Fortunately they’re all still with us} It puts things into perspective. Gives clarity to what you do in your job. Makes you ask the question, is what I’m doing making a difference? If not, what should I be doing differently?

Last week Valeria wrote about a friend who died of cancer and asked the question “What happens now?” She then talks about a sales person at Nordstrom who formed a real connection with her simply because she cared.

So given that time is so fleeting, why waste it on experiences that don’t enrich our lives in one way or another? There’s so much opportunity to design a business that delivers wow and delight – and those that do so have a much better shot at growing their bottom line over a longer horizon. They’re the businesses we want to share with others. And now more than ever we have the tools available to make personal real. And that doesn’t mean slapping a person’s first name via a mail merge on a sales letter.

To drive this point home, spend six minutes watching this video. When you’re stripped bare little else matters but the people closest to us.

How personal is your business?


  1. Hiya Patrick,

    Bravo, amen, and I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend and the struggles your sisters are going through.

    There are so many perspective-changers out there. It’s sad that so many people have to be punched in the face in order to open their hearts and minds to new perspectives, but for those of us who are able to ride the tide, an education, sometimes hard, sometimes encouraging, is always waiting.

    My best to you and your family.

  2. Patrick says:

    Thanks Margie – appreciate the thoughts. You’re absolutely right that new perspectives are always waiting for an open mind. It’s up to us to choose to be open to new experiences and ways of thinking. And not ignore the present lying before us. Not to mention never get complacent!

    My colleague had remarked that had he gone to the Doctor more regularly (it had been years) they likely would have detected his cancer in time. But all the way through he never lost his sense of humor and compassion.

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