MIND OVER MATTER
This month’s theme: Connection
When we think about connection, it used to be a term and concept reserved for the personal side of our lives - for our spiritual practice, for our relationships. But the application wasn’t always as clear for our work or businesses. Today, however, connection is at the epicenter of a movement. Business leaders of a certain consciousness are no longer only satisfied with good margins, happy P&L’s and shareholder value. They want and value connection as a priority, not an afterthought. They see relationships as lifelines, and company culture as the highest priority.
I asked a handful of prominent business leaders what connection means to them in this competitive age and time, and why cultivating it is relevant to being a successful CEO. Their answers are as refreshing as they are reassuring, that some of the best and brightest among us do put purpose above profits, and that both can actually live quite happily together.
Here’s what they said...
"To me, connection means alignment around a core purpose, grounded in humanity. Connection galvanizes stakeholders to drive your ideals, your innovations and your business forward. The connection that is most impactful for me, is the relationship that I have with our customers - I make up to 15 calls to our customers every week. Being able to speak with them directly, and having a depth and candor to our relationship is very important to me. Here at Honest, the relationship that we have with our customers keeps us grounded. Our genuine connection reminds us that we are here completely in service of our customer to help inspire people to live happy, healthy lives every day.
The most important thing that you can do as a business owner is to serve your customers, stakeholders and employees with both humility and humanity. Here at Honest, it’s our #1 priority."
"I believe that relationships, which are born in and nourished by personal connection to each other’s purpose and passion, are the single most important element of success in business—especially in conscious capitalism, social impact, The Great Work. Connection begins with listening deeply. Only by first actively listening to our partners, customers and staff can we understand and provide for their needs. It’s the concept of an “open brand” which asks, “What do you want? How can we serve?” rather than preaching, “This is what you need!”
Bodhi Tree began in 1970 by asking its customers what they were interested in reading. Founders Stan and Phil were keenly interested in Buddhist literature, but their customers wanted to learn about all of the world’s wisdom traditions—and so the Bodhi Tree became a “big tent,” a home for all beliefs, philosophies and inquiries. Today at Bodhi Tree, we are continuing that tradition of community service. We regular ask our partners and customers what they think and what they want. In fact, our motto is “Ask the questions.” By asking, and then listening, we all stay connected."
“Connection has been on our mind a lot lately. Of course, the election made a lot of us think about the extent to which we're disconnected from each other, but more than that, the biggest learning we've had in building enso, and the one common thread through all of our work is fostering connections between people. We've come to believe that the way to create positive impact at scale is not through solo missions, but through shared missions. Unfortunately 'connection' in business is typically prioritized somewhere down the list of key skills to build, and associated mostly with superficial connection — fleeting conference networking, LinkedIn connections etc. But great acts of business value creation, like great social movements, are really about connection and community organizing. The creation of Visa is one example, which brought together thousands of banks to build a new system together; Nike's transition from pariah to sustainable supply chain leader was achieved through internal community organizing and external community organizing (what became the Fair Labor Association). And of course we can all think about the deep mentor connections that have made us who we are. In a world where over two thirds of people feel disengaged in their work, there’s an urgent need to reconnect people with each other, and with a bigger mission, to realize our individual and collective potential.”
"I've been fortunate to personally experience daily life and share meaningful moments with people in rural communities in countries throughout Southeast Asia and Latin America. Whether eating home-cooked meals made in humble outdoor kitchens or venturing out with local guides to visit private rainforest lagoons, or picking coffee with growers on their family farms, it's these in-person shared experiences that had the greatest impact on my life. They made me a more empathetic person and a better, more understanding leader. And by visiting these communities through tourism cooperatives and locally-run lodges, I learned that my travels could also support conservation projects and sustainable income for the people who welcomed me. We created our social enterprise, Lokal, based on the power of these human connections and we're on a mission to give millions more the opportunity to experience it for themselves."
"Connection is what makes business and culture work. When I work with groups I often say “there is never a good reason to have a bad relationship”
Amy Swift Crosby is a brand strategist and copy writer, and the voice behind SMARTY, a blog about the human side of creativity and business.
To read more on humanity at work, find Amy’s work and learn more about her at www.smartypeople.com