Archives For brand as culture

brand as culture



In a world of change, some things never change

I have recently found myself doing a lot of talks and workshops on and around the subject of ‘change’.

Not that surprising really. ‘Change’ is the Zeitgeist of our time, defining the mood, the attitude, and the outlook of companies and people.

The brief I get is always along the lines of, “Change is a problem for our people; can you turn it into something positive”. Not that surprising either. We are all creatures of habit and comfort, and few of us spring out of bed in the morning screaming, “Yes! Another day of glorious change is upon me.”

Instead talk of ‘change’ creates unease, anxiety, and even stress. Margaret Mead [social anthropologist] observed the impact of change on remote communities and tribes, and described change as akin to “being an immigrant into a new time”. There are no signposts indicating the way forward. There is no how-to instruction manual that gets passed down the ranks. There is a lack of precedent, as yesterday’s lessons and experiences count for little in a brand new, changing world.

As the saying goes, “Nothing is more dangerous than yesterday’s success”. And so the challenge facing business leaders today is how to successfully navigate such unchartered waters as they run and grow their companies. How do you possibly respond to this?

Well there are some things that never change, and that’s where I suggest people turn some of their focus and energy.  And that is people, and YOU.

Did you ever read How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie? Written in 1936, it was the first ever self-help book. And while a lot has changed since 1936, these six tips on how to engage and relate to people hasn’t changed one little bit:

1.        Smile.

2.        Remember that a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

3.        Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.

4.        Give honest and sincere appreciation.

5.        Arouse in the other person an eager want.

6.        Make the other person feel special.

In a world of change, the one constant you can always depend upon is what people want, how people like to be treated, and what you can do to win people over.

It all boils down to Brand YOU. Like a yacht being tossed around in the seas of change, Brand YOU is the keel that keeps you upright and on track. So what is your keel? Underneath the storms and winds of change, who you are really? What do you believe in and stand for? How do you behave and relate to others?

Get straight with yourself on these things and I reckon you’ll be in good shape to navigate the ever-changing oceans of change.

brand as culture



Rule #6

Two Prime Ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state.

Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident Prime Minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologises, and withdraws.

The politicians return to their conversations, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Maria, please remember Rule Number 6.” Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.

When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting Prime Minister addresses his colleague: “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?”

“Very simple,” replies the resident Prime Minister. “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so fucking seriously’”.

“Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.” After a moment of pondering he enquires, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any” replied the resident Prime Minister.

Amen to that.


brand as culture



Death by overwork

In Japan, 10% of male deaths are job-related. They even have a special word for it, karōshi, death by overwork. Yep, death by overwork.

Karōshi was invented in 1978 to refer to an increasing number of people suffering from fatal strokes and heart attacks attributed to overwork.

In an International Labour Organization article about karōshi, the following four typical cases of karōshi were mentioned:

  1. Mr. A worked at a major snack food processing company for as long as 110 hours a week (not a month) and died from a heart attack at the age of 34. His death was recognized as work-related by the Labour Standards Office.
  2. Mr. B, a bus driver, whose death was also recognized as work-related, worked 3,000 hours a year. He did not have a day off in the 15 years before he had a stroke at the age of 37.
  3. Mr. C worked in a large printing company in Tokyo for 4,320 hours a year including night work and died from a stroke at the age of 58.
  4. Ms. D, a 22-year-old nurse, died from a heart attack after 34 hours of continuous duty five times a month.

Go figure.



A manifesto of human aspiration

In his book Good Work, the economic thinker E.F.Schumacher describes the ‘longing for freedom’ that has become so widespread in society today:

I don’t want to join the rat race.
Not be enslaved by machines, bureaucrats, boredom, ugliness.
I don’t want to be a moron, robot, commuter.
I don’t want to become a fragment of a person.

I want to do my own thing.
I want to live simply.
I want to deal with people, not masks.
People matter. Nature matters. Beauty matters. Wholeness matters.
I want to be able to care.

This poetic manifesto of human aspiration, written in the 1970s, is one that resonates with many people today who feel unfulfilled by their jobs. I know this because when I ask people in my Brand YOU workshops, “What does success look like … for YOU”, this is what people tell me.

And so how can you begin to satisfy your desire for ‘greater freedom’? I think it requires addressing three dilemmas, or challenges if you like.

First, whether you should opt for the security and stability of a salaried job, or embrace self-employment and invent your own job. After all, you are the CEO of your life.

Second, whether you should abandon the goal of making a (successful) living, and instead create a fulfilling life. People’s number 1 career regret is, “I wish I hadn’t worked for the money”. Make sure that’s not you (as you lie on your deathbed).

And third, whether you should wean yourself off the hard-work ethic and stop filling up your time by being ‘busy’, and start being productive. Do stuff that matters. Do stuff that counts. And forget the rest, it’s all a waste of your precious time.

Is freedom a risky business? You bet it is. That’s why its called ‘freedom’.