What if you ran into clients that have never heard of you? And what if they've never heard of your products or services? Would they still buy from you?
It seems highly implausible, even impossible that you'd get a client interested. And yet, the reality can be remarkably different. A business philosophy can turn a client around and make them interested in you, after hearing just a single line.
Let's find out how.
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(Note: This is an unedited transcript)
Around 2009, we had a unique problem. I was to give a presentation at a conference in Chicago.
In the audience were around 250 people. What was the problem you may ask? Well, these 250 people, most of them didn't know me. For a normal presentation, that is not an issue at all. That's not a challenge.
But this presentation involved us trying to sell both the membership at 5,000 BC, as well as the brain audit, two products, or one product, one service, in one go to what seemed like a bunch of strangers to be fair there had been some calls before the event so it wasn't like I was a complete stranger.
However the event was over two or three days and there were many speakers when you're an audience member and you have all of these different speakers it's hard to pin down who you're going to listen to and where are you going to invest you money?
But before I started the speech, I do what I tend to do, whenever I'm in front of an audience, and that is to give them my philosophy, my way of life.
One of the questions that I asked the audience is why did they get in business? And almost everybody has the same answer, and that is, they got into business to have a better life. To have more satisfaction with their work, to spend time with their kids, and to have enough of an income, so that they didn't have to look at the right hand side of a menu when ordering a meal.
The problem with business is that people get greedy, and there's no other way to say it.
They want more and more and more. They want to grow the business. They feel this instability. They start off with almost nothing. Then things start to move. And then they get, well, the world is greedy. And I talk about this philosophy in how we built our business, how we built the three month vacation, why we do that. And then I talk about how we live in New Zealand.
Now this seems very odd for a presentation which you're making and in this case, it was about pricing. If you had just 45 minutes to make a presentation, and 10 minutes of it went in your philosophy, that gives you even less time because you need another 10 minutes at the end to sell your products and services. But it is the philosophy that changes the way the audience looks at you.
When we encounter a product, we usually have certain parameters, and there is price reliability, but there's also this invisible factor, which is philosophy. And if you use that well and correctly, you'll find that people are more interested in what you do.
So today's topic is about philosophy. The three elements that will cover are, do you have a philosophy? goes into the philosophy and the third would be how long should it be or how short.
Let's start out with the first one which is do you have a philosophy.
As you probably know I started out as a cartoonist back in Mumbai India and I do a a lot of work for clients and was considered generally reliable. But the problem that I had was I had no philosophy. People didn't know why they would hire me. But I wasn't so astute about marketing back then.
However, when we moved to New Zealand in the year 2000, that's when we had to make a new start. And it's usually when you make a new start that you have the chance to reboot to refresh, reset whatever you've been doing.
And when we got here, we realized that we were doing almost the same thing that we were doing in India, which is working. We were doing exactly the same thing.
We were just in a different country earning a different currency, and that was it.
That's when we sat down and we figured out, we're going to have a different life. And that is, we're going to work for 12 weeks and then take a month off.
And this was way back in 2004. when our business was relatively young and you could say just a buff struggling we were okay but we decided that's what we're gonna do and usually the brain is a very cool tool in the sense that when you decide what you're going to do it will then reset everything or reformat that's the case maybe and help you achieve that goal.
But it has to be based on some kind of philosophy and my thinking back then was that if I am tired all the time I can't help my clients and that if I don't have enough downtime I'm not going to read I'm not going to upscale myself and that again affects me and my clients and to me as radical as it sounded it was important to have those levels of downtime, where I rest and refresh, and that's what happens in those holidays.
We go away, the mind gets clear, we come back, but even at the end of the year when we don't go away, that's when I'll read and watch history channel and do all kinds of things that enable me to do the courses, to do all the stuff we do to the year.
When businesses start out, I'm not sure that they always have a philosophy. But when they restart, there is this feel that's need to be something different. It doesn't always have to be a new start, it could just be a crisis.
Here's the story of how Tinka had failed to became the head designer at Nike, and it came from a crisis and it kind of set the philosophy. Tinka had failed, set the philosophy. Let's hear what he has to say in the serious school abstract from Netflix. Lucky had grown up very fast. We were leading the industry focused on basketball and running. Reebok came along. There was a Reebok craze.
Reebok invented aerobic shoes. It's a whole new thing.
They had the right product at the right time and they actually passed Nike and Size. So there was a bit of panic and Nike was laying people off right and left. They were also thinking that they needed to upgrade their design group.
So I was invited to be a part of a 24-hour design contest. Tinker wasn't a shoot designer at the time. He was designing trade shows and displays at retail. I worked the whole 24 hours. I didn't go to bed that night.
Most of the other designers, I think, just tried to work off of what they were already doing. It wasn't really anything very unique in terms of storytelling. I came back in with a big presentation. Sort of having fun with the fact that this was the perfect shoot or write a motor scooter in. And then get out and then jog around and walk around a little bit.
Two days after the competition, I was, wasn't even asked. I was told that I was now a ship of footwear designer for Nike. In a very short period of time, I pretty much became the lead designer. It usually works like this. There is a reset. There is a crisis of some kind that requires you to reset. And that's when you decide. I'm going to have a philosophy. I'm going to do things my way.
In 1976, Anita Rodik started up body shop. Officially known as the body shop. It was one of the first companies to campaign against animal testing in the cosmetics industry. The companies' products were never tested on animals. And what they did was actively campaigned for a ban on all animal testing. Now, they did other things as well.
They supported community trade and activated self-esteem. They were committed to defending human rights and social justice. But think about it for a second and you see the philosophy of no animal testing coming through, stronger than everything else. After all of these years, 50 years have passed, people who have never used the body shop still know what it stands for and why they step into that store.
When you take company like Volvo, which is Swedish automotive brand, what we have is a commitment to safety.
So they believe that their cars should protect not only the occupants but other road users. And so they have a long history of pioneering features such as the 3.7 belt, which they designed, and they gave away free to everybody else.
Every time you snap that seat belt on, every time you curse and say, “Why do I have to put this on?” That's the thing that saves lives. Year after year, whenever you hear of accidents, people flying through the windows, that's because they don't have the seat belt, Volvo did that. They didn't have to do it.
That was their philosophy. We're going to protect the people in the car, we're going to protect the people in the road and that's kind of where philosophy comes from. It comes from this deep-rooted belief of I'm here to create some meaning.
And if you look at the three-month vacation, it doesn't sound like anything except something very selfish, but it is rooted in the belief that I find tired if I'm not up-skilled then I can't help my customers as well as I know I can. So we have to create this level of meaning and what we want to bring to those world and to our work. Which sets us to the second part, which is how do we go about creating this philosophy?
The last few years have been difficult for many businesses and especially hospitality.
One of my friends runs a cafe and she struggles with and now what she has is version 2.0. Except that nothing's changed about the cafe. It's the same location. It's the same space. They serve similar coffee as they did before. Maybe some of the coffee's changed from time to time but that used to happen anyway.
But what's the philosophy about? How do people know that you're somehow different? The main problem here is this item called the coffee cup, the paper cup, the takeaway cup, whatever you want to call it.
The stuff that you get at Starbucks, the stuff that you have to take and run with it. You have to sit in your car and sip from it. It's not necessarily how a coffee should be drunk. And of course. This is my very strong opinion, but is also the opinion of this owner of the cafe.
She feels that a coffee needs to be savered, that the real flavor of a coffee happens. Not when it's hot, not when it's got that cover on top, but when it cools down just a little bit. And that's when you can taste the flavors of a coffee. She also feels very strongly about the waste.
Every time you take that paper cup, it doesn't matter that it can be recycled. The best recycling is just reuse. It's pretty much what we do at home. We don't use forks and spoons that we throw out after every meal. We don't use plates that we throw out after every meal. We don't have vessels that we chuck in the bin every single day. But we do that with coffee.
And there's this humongous amount of waste that is created for no reason.
It keeps the coffee super hot which doesn't give you much of the flavor. When she restarted, she put up a little sign on the door. It was the name of her cafe and it said version 2.0 and I said I hope the space is about slowing down about spending 10 minutes to enjoy your coffee break because we all deserve it.
And I hope that it's about reducing waste. We hope that you don't use the paper cup for reasons we all know already. And that's how you create a powerful philosophy.
You create one by understanding what you don't want. And then that leads you to what you really want. Body shop was against animal testing. It said so from the very start. Volvo was against losing lives and no reason at all.
The three month vacation is about not having to work the whole time but to have downtime on a regular basis. The lead designer at Nike didn't design the philosophy for the whole company. He worked on a single product and then he worked with Michael Jordan and created a whole range of shoes that became very popular.
However, if you're wondering how do you go about it, then think of the things that annoy you a lot.
Think of the one thing that annoys you a lot. And you can very often create your philosophy based on that one thing. In the last episode we talked about uniqueness and how every company has two, three, four, 16, 25 features.
You can't get that message across to people. It's a real struggle. Understanding that people can handle one thing and that you can take that one thing in elaborated in greater detail.
That's what you want to do. That's what you really want to do because when you take that one thing that annoys you and then turn it into something positive. The people feel very strongly about, then they want to, they choose to buy your products and services even without knowing what's inside, which is why we were able to sell the rain on it and 5,000 BC.
They had never seen him before. They had never seen me before. But standing on that stage, the resonance was created by the philosophy, not by the presentation, not by the sales page, not by the testimonials, but by the philosophy. And this is an underlying uniqueness factor. It's not the uniqueness.
It's what drives you and what sustains you, that people see. And a lot of businesses don't have it. Or if they have it, they don't talk about it, which is the same thing. It's pointless if you have a philosophy and you don't use it. and use it well.
And with that we come to the third part which is how long should if a loss of Phoebe? I'm gonna keep this really short. How long should you philosophy be? Well, it needs to be three lines maybe so that I can remember as a client.
I can remember what you said If you start writing a philosophy like you see this mission statements that a lot of people make first of all is full of hot air. It's nonsense and you know that a philosophy because you can't say to somebody else you can't remember it even the person who wrote it can't remember it.
So it's a lot of gibberish. It's a lot of nonsense that makes them feel really good in a board room and you don't have a board room. You shouldn't have a board room if you can help it You should have this drive and so keep it really short three lines maybe Maybe two lines it really depends on what you're saying.
But what annoys you and how do you intend to overcome that and give that benefit over to your clients.
That's what they want to know. That brings us to the end of this podcast and let's do a quick summary. The first one was, “Do you have a philosophy?” Well, a lot of people don't. A lot of businesses don't. And when you press the reset button, that's when the philosophy kind of comes to life. Not always, but usually.
The second point was, “How do we go about creating a philosophy?” And it comes from annoyance. It comes from the thing that frustrated you in general businesses don't just start up because they want to make money.
They start up because they have a certain drive to create something different, something better. You want to communicate that information, which is what the third part of today's podcast was about. Just because you have the information, don't dump the whole truck on me.
Make sure that it's just a few lines and that I can remember it because I'm going to tell someone else about it and they're going to tell someone else about it and you don't want it to be this huge mission statement which is rubbish.
So what's the one thing that you can do today?
And that is to look at the thing that annoyed you. Ironically the owner of the coffee shop, the paper cup of noise here, that one thing that people ask for all day long that annoys her the most because it represents not savoring the coffee. The coffee's too hot it's just a waste of paper and plastic endlessly and so that annoys her a lot and so she's built her philosophy.
Her version 2.0 on that paper cup. In fact she even has many cups there that people can take to their office and they can just rinse and bring back. They don't have to wash it. She'll wash it for them. It shows you how deeply she cares about the philosophy that she has. And I guess you can do that too.
Next Step: So how do you decide your business philosophy? Have a look at how we went about it – Psychotactics Philosophy