Before thinking about profits as a measure of business success, first ask yourself, do you serve others with what you do every day?
A truly great business always delivers undeniable value and when you focus on giving value as a way of life, the money will naturally follow. Your real worth is defined by how much more value you give than how much you take in payment.
This is the first of five laws of stratospheric business success as articulated in The Go-Giver, a fable about an ambitious young man, Joe, who propelled himself to phenomenal success after he learned and applied the laws in his coffee business.
The reality is that today we live in a brutally competitive world. Sometimes it is not only about beating the competition but also about surviving in the race. Society expects us to all be go-getters, achieving more than the competitor or even outperforming others to our own detriment in pursuit of victory. Society’s approach is to gain as much benefit as one can – regardless of the cost to others or to ourselves.
However, there is a better alternative and the approach of succeeding by giving value turns this warped societal belief on its head. By no means do I make a case for a poverty approach because our income is determined by how many people we serve and how well we serve them. Abundance follows abundant value – and this is a call to serve abundantly in line with your inspired cause.
Bringing value aligns with the notion of placing our purpose at the centre of what we do each day. Allowing us to do what we love while touching the lives of others by doing it. Thus, not focusing on what we do and how much we can charge for it, but by having our eyes firmly set on why we are inspired to offer a service or product that will build true value for those we serve. In this way, financial prosperity becomes an unavoidable result rather than a primary goal and we are able to transcend our initial boundaries of foreseen success.
This is also very true when embarking on social investment or CSI. Many enjoy the exposure that giving away sizeable cheques to non-profit organisations bring. As a public relations exercise, it does well for businesses in terms of creating a perception that they are advocates for change. What happens to those donations once the cameras disappear and the hard work needs to begin? Financial contributions alone do not necessarily reflect a sincere belief in a project but is often used as a tax deductible. Offering our hearts and hands bear testimony to our true inspiration and bring more value than what we could ever get in repayments or a tax rebate.
The critical question to ask is if we influence the status quo for the better? I share the view that our influence is defined by how often and how much we focus on others’ interests first. Placing the interest of others first, serves the value-driven approach and can only be achieved through a deep conviction of what we stand for.
The biggest and most valuable gift we can offer is ourselves. Every human being craves genuine connections and relationships. Hence, the best gift we can offer someone is our authenticity, simply by being ourselves rather than pretending to be someone else. No amount of manipulation skills or techniques can be as effective or valuable as our authenticity and sincerity from a giving heart.
By giving our inspired skills, talent and uniqueness to those we serve – especially those in need – making true connections and enabling a value higher than what we can get back as reward.
Willem S Eksteen is the Chief Executive of Stone. He is a values-driven trusted advisor to respected blue-chip businesses, brands and leaders. He gives counsel in the fields of business strategy, social investment, marketing, integrated engagement and reputation management. Willem has a passion for adding value to the work of various NPOs and for inspiring change for a better society.