Down to Business
Not too many years ago I would not have said, “I love you” to anyone except those closest to me. In fact, I could never have imagined myself saying this to strangers. As a young and aggressive entrepreneur, my goals were targeted toward financial success and reaching my goals. Yes, I was often guilty of blind ambition. I wanted to excel, spread my wings, gain “the good life” and have it all. And, like you, I was willing to work hard toward these goals–I was a dedicated businessman, devoted to my career, and … winning. Then, in time, I came to a point in my life where I began to feel that while I had all this stuff, and plenty of money, something was missing. I began feeling like I was in a bubble, a kind of Internet bubble, sometimes even aloof from those closest to me–friends and yes, even my family.
Maybe you’ve felt this kind of isolation, or maybe you’re stranded in your own bubble right now? Perhaps you look into the mirror and say, hey, I’m not as happy as I’d like to be, I’m not celebrating life–I just keep being challenged by it. If this is true for you, you’re not alone. It doesn’t matter if you are the owner or top executive of your company, if you are an employee, staff member or the newest salesperson just coming on board, the person who answers the phone or a file clerk, the chances are that you, more often than not, spend a lot of your life feeling far more lost than found. Many people share your dilemma, so you’re not alone in your uncertainty of self and of others, of where you really want to be, and what you really want to have.
When I began to realize these feelings within me I was confronted with my own fears, and this forced me into a lot of self-examination. I realized how cavalier I had always been about keeping up with trends and changes that affected my business and personal life. I belonged to Shakespeare’s worldview: Life was a stage, and I was merely a player. I was so busy trying to make money and to succeed that I often got lost in the process. I didn’t like the feeling, and began soul-searching and then realized what I needed was not a change in career, not a cruise to get away from it all, but a new perspective of life itself. Because I wanted to discover what was truly important to me, I began adjusting some of my values, those that were not serving me well, or anyone else. And from my reading and study I gained an epiphany. For one thing, I wanted the best of all worlds. I wanted to make a lot of money, but also I wanted to do some good along the way.
With the goal of inquiring into the meaningful, I began to seek answers, and over the following three years I read hundreds of books in a sincere attempt to pursue the knowledge that I was seeking. Since I didn’t know exactly where to look, I looked everywhere. I read philosophy, religion, psychology, ancient writings, and science, doing this with more passion and more commitment than I had ever given anything in my life.
Guess what? As I got deeper and deeper into all these wonderful books, and many of them were wonderful, I began to realize I had known the answer all along. I had simply buried it beneath a lot of materialistic concepts; concepts that taught me we live in a dog-eat-dog world, and success is the result of how well we fight.
It doesn’t matter if you were born in the richest or poorest family, you were taught that this is the way of the world. The idea and part of our socialization of “getting ahead” is based on all the warring methodologies starting with the most common of all, beating the competition. If we take the time to look down at our lives and down at our businesses, as opposed to trying to look into or past them, what comes into our overview is that we are spinning a lot of old wheels and are working a lot harder and under a lot more stress. While you have been “fighting” the competition, you have not been gaining ground but losing it. Does this make you wonder where you’ll be in the next few years since the competition is obviously growing and getting more and more aggressive. Additionally, your cost of doing business is and has been rising. “Receiving customers” is costing more and more as the price of advertising increases and the result of advertising decreases in effectiveness; lifetime value is eroding and the “commodization” of everything is going to put most business not only in a precarious position, but against the proprietary wall.
These are the stark realities in the changing marketplace that quickly come into focus when we take a bird’s- eye view of how business is going for the entrepreneur these days. Most do not see that the new love economy is a reality that is entering into every facet of so-called consumerism. The consumer has been creating this over the past few years. Big business knows this, but the margins do not permit the mammoth companies to respond to this desire of the customer very easily. Indeed, most feel condemned to think of their customers as numbers. But this also applies to many attitudes of small- and medium-size business where leadership can easily reinvent themselves with open hearts and loving policies. They don’t, of course, because they have been educated to believe that (real) business is basically a war machine. Just stop and think about the arsenal of war metaphors that we use in business:
Tactics Go get them Execute
Armament Sales hits Assault
Win battles Knock’em dead Beat
Defeat the competition Capture Attack
Take no prisoners Target War room
Go for the throat Headhunter Hostile takeover
Potent weapons Make a killing War zone
Guerilla warfare Aim Etc.
And, in addition, business is filled with possessive, greedy terms such as retention, retain, acquisition, locked-in, we own them, they’re mine–and the list continues.
More on how these traditional business conceptions actually hinder our progress and success in a later chapter, but the point is that we have been conditioned to believe the road to the top is about defeating the competition, “doing what it takes,” and if it takes stepping on a few toes, being a little ruthless, so what? And what about customers and clients? Executives, bosses, owners and sales managers are constantly talking about “customer concern” and “customer service,” but soon enough their message returns to the war metaphors: “Let’s pull out our marketing weapons and take no prisoners. We need to target our customers!”
It is not at all unusual to call the customer/client liars, cheats, disloyal, dishonest and, in general, pain in the asses while putting up signs that read Our customers are number one with us! Can you imagine how the customer or client would feel if he or she stood invisible in the room and heard all this? But this is how business has been conducted, at least since the advent of money some three thousand years ago. As soon as someone says something like, Let’s get down to business, we are accustomed to thinking in terms of “butting heads,” “going on the offensive,” and so forth. The warrior in us is aroused, and we merge ourselves into visions of victory and defeat, gains and losses. Typically, the moment we sit down to discuss business with anyone, our first inclination is to watch our backs. And when it comes down to the jargon of the entrepreneur, what is more common than asking,, “How goes the battle?”
But why is this true?
Other business is not the enemy. While big business is certainly powerful, andcan be overwhelming competition, it’s not the enemy either. The “enemy” is within. Just as individuals can become their own worst enemies, the business owner or leader can become self-defeating as well. This is true not because he is a defeatist but because he is being defeated to one degree or another as each fiscal year goes wistfully by. As a result, the owner or leader is trying to push harder against the rising costs and expanding competition. You know this because you hear it even in casual conversation: It just seems that the harder you fight, the harder the fight becomes…You think you’re winning the battles and then the bombs begin to fall…I don’t know, it’s one step forward and two steps back…I’m telling you if the economy doesn’t change, I’ll be out of business.
These statements are so representative of today’s entrepreneurs because they—and the odds are that you, too—have not recognized that the economy has changed.
The war economy, the so-called “real economy,” is no longer applicable to growing one’s business. Even for big business, these economies are mere metaphors. The economy that is truly on the rise is the love economy, and I will make this bold statement that those in business who do not make this new paradigm their own, will not survive. And, even if they do, you can bet that over the next five or ten years, the grip they have will become even looser and sweatier. I will say it again: It doesn’t have to be. The love-based entrepreneur will not only succeed but will excel right now and in the future by making only a few easy and rewarding changes. As long as we keep living by the old battlefield metaphors we must ask ourselves, is it any wonder that by the end of most of our business days we feel exhausted, weary and anxiety filled, or we endure some other symptom from the challenges we’ve faced in the “war zone” we call work? Sure, some days are better than others, so I’m speaking in general.
I did a lot of thinking in general during the three years I spent seeking answers and pathways to a happier, more meaningful and purposeful life. I paid a lot of attention to these negatives in business. What was I after? First of all, I wanted more happiness and harmony in my professional and private life. I wanted to get up in the morning looking forward to my day, celebrating the challenges, as opposed to fighting them, having fun making money and giving joy as I built greater success. I wanted to stop getting down to business and start getting into the pleasures of doing business. I wanted to quit coming home with such a heavy load on my shoulders, a load that often stopped me from being as attentive to my family as I wanted to be. I simply wanted to bring the positive and loving into my life and the life of my loved ones–:the best of all worlds: financial wealth (success) and to do some good along the way.
Earlier I said that I had experienced an epiphany, or a sudden realization of something profound. I really did! After all the reading, the research, the contemplation and meditation, I realized I already had the answer. It did not come to me in some wild “brainstorm,” or derive from intellectual theorizing. It came from the heart or, if you prefers, from the depths of my own consciousness. It was, simply, love.
Don’t roll your eyes upward in a skeptical response? Why?Because love is more, much more than you have ever thought it was. In fact, one of the world’s most renowned physicists, Fred Allan Wolf, tells us that, “Love is the glue of the universe.” It is the cohesive factor of our connection to the world and to others. It is also the most incredibly powerful tool we have for success in business as well as in our private lives. I’m going to show you exactly how love can work for you to increase your sales, increase your productivity, increase your client and customer base, increase your profits and gain the success that you desire for your business or career and for yourself. I am going to share the pragmatism of love and loving–a pragmatic and practical guide to the attainment of an abundance of good fortune…if you’re willing to open up your heart and mind.
Here’s where you may decide to stop reading, but if you dare to read on, I will do my utmost to make it worth your time.. You have nothing to lose but a little time–and so very much to gain. Secondly, the old “warring” ways of the entrepreneur are rapidly becoming obsolete. A new paradigm is on the horizon for the businessperson, the entrepreneur who must compete in the shadow of changing times and new challenges. This paradigm demands real and sincere customer/client concern, and conscientious service–both are qualities of love. I believe that if you don’t begin implementing the love strategies I am detailing, your business may be doomed to mediocrity at best, or failure at worst. This is not a scare tactic, but rather what I’ve seen by observing how much competition is increasing and margins are declining.
Let me give you a current example: We are used to including the large supermarket chains in our view of bigger business success, and typically believe that the big supermarkets are safe and will keep moving forward and keep expanding. Not true! Wal-Mart has announced that they will open 40 “super centers” across California alone within the next five years or so. California supermarkets no longer live in what they imagined was a sanctuary of security. Why? In other states where the Wal-Mart discount-plus-grocery stores have located, they have eroded the profits of many big and small businesses. If this can happen to the mammoth supermarket chains, where do you place your business in this scenario? Hopefully you can see the writing on the wall and agree that positive change is necessary. The most positive results will occur if you only apply the principles and techniques of becoming a Love-Based Entrepreneur–an LBE!
I want to make it perfectly clear that I am an objective, rational and realistic businessperson. I have earned financial success and have overcome the obstacles and hurdles we all meet along life’s journey. I say this to assure you that I am sharing practical results. You will enjoy greater success in business as well as greater success, happiness and peace of mind in your private life. I By becoming a love-based entrepreneur your life will not suddenly become perfect, a panacea, but it will become enriched, and you will become unencumbered by many of the problems and challenges you may now be facing.
Let’s talk about you first. You may be very set in your ways, have deep regrets or angers, be an egotist, be overwhelmed by uncertainties or fears of loss. You may even be afraid to love…unconditionally. Only you will know if any of this is true. But pay very close attention to what H.R. Lewis and H.S. Streitfield tell us about ourselves:
“You are almost certainly much better than you think you are. More than you now permit yourself; you can be happier, stronger and braver. You can be more loving and giving; warmer, more open and honest; more responsible and responsive. You can perceive worlds richer and fuller than you now experience. You have it in you to be more creative, more zestful more joyous. All these prospects are within you. They are your potential.”