The past couple of weeks we have talked about marketing and promoting your business, we are going to take a different track today and talk about purpose, impact, and influence.

Last week, we watched the funeral of George Bush, Sr. , he was remembered not so much for political wins or losses, but for a life well-lived and for the family that he loved. 

My favorite part of George W.’S eulogy to his father was when he said:

In his inaugural address, the 41st president of the United States said this, “We cannot hope only to leave our children a bigger car or a bigger bank account, we must hope to give them a sense of what it means to be a loyal friend, a loving parent, a citizen who leaves his home, his neighborhood, and his town better than he found it. 

What do we want the men and women who work with us to say when we are no longer there. That we were more driven to succeed than anyone around us, or that we stop to ask if a sick child had gotten better and stayed a moment there to trade a word of friendship.

The pastor of my Bible study said this yesterday, “Each one of us leaves a legacy, whether we want to or not.  We decide what that legacy will be.”

That is true, we don’t have to be an elected official or a captain of industry to make a difference.  Every person has an impact on those around them.  As a business owner or manager, you especially play a vital role in the lives of your employees, their families, and your community.

In business, it’s important to pay attention to the net, but the income statement is not your company mission, and it is definitely not your life’s purpose.[1] 

Jack Welch, the former chairman of GE, talked about that.  He took GE through a tremendous period of growth; however, his focus was first on people.  His view was that if the company did good by their employees, and the employees did well by their customers and communities, that an increase in “stakeholder value” was a natural result of that focus. This is what he said about it:

. . . And I was asked, what do you think of shareholder value as a strategy? I said it’s the dumbest idea possible. It isn’t a strategy; it’s an outcome. A strategy is something like, an innovative new product; globalization, taking your products around the world; be the low-cost producer. A strategy is something you can touch; you can motivate people with; be number one and number two in every business. You can energize people around the message. They come to work every day. It’s tangible. It’s something they can feel and be proud of.

Shareholder value? What the hell is that Larry? It’s the result of you doing a great job, watching your share price go up, your shareholders win, and dividends increasing. What happens when you have increasing shareholder value? You’re delivering better employees to their communities and they can give back. Communities are winning because employees are involved in mentoring and all these other things. Customers are winning because you’re providing them new products, value propositions.

It’s people first.  How does your business, and the way you do business, enrich the life of the people you work with, the people you do business with, and the community you are in?

Bob McNair, another big name here in Houston, passed away a few weeks ago.[2]  A few days before that, another local business owner died.  He owned a yogurt shop here in Kingwood, one that was inundated after the San Jacinto River Authority made its catastrophic release after Hurricane Harvey. 

The owner worked hard and brought his shop back into business, but he was fighting another battle with cancer that he didn’t win. 

An immigrant from Vietnam, his yogurt shop, was the culmination of his American Dream.  His daughter said:

“Running The Berry Bar made him so happy because he always got to meet new people and make friends out of the regular customers,” she said. “He really did love his customers.[3]

Business owners that give back to and invest in their community are what makes a community a special place to be.


Endnotes:

[1] Jack Welch and Larry Kudlow. “Money & Politics with Larry Kudlow: An Interview with Jack Welch.” CNBC. Published March 17, 2009. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/id/29740717

[2] David Bryan. “Texans owner Bob McNair, who brought the NFL back to Houston, dies at 81.” Houston Chronicle. Published November 23, 2018. Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/texans/article/Texans-owner-Bob-McNair-who-brought-NFL-back-to-13417630.php

[3] Nguyen Le. “Community mourns passing of beloved Kingwood business owner.” Houston Chronicle. Published November 30, 2018.  Accessed December 10, 2018. https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/kingwood/business/article/Late-owner-of-The-Berry-Bar-impresses-affects-13434110.php

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