The Profit of Kindness: How to Influence Others, Establish Trust, and Build Lasting Business Relationships224
The Profit of Kindness: How to Influence Others, Establish Trust, and Build Lasting Business Relationships224
The Profit of Kindness will help you master the art of building trusting, long-lasting relationships through open, nonadversarial interchanges that result in mutually beneficial outcomes. A basic adjustment in attitude and approach can substantially improve virtually every facet of your life. Each chapter provides specific examples for improving skills such as communication, building integrity, team work, influencing others, and more.
In order to connect with new clients or future business partners and transform your potential into success, you need to establish trust and build strong relationships. The key is to focus more on giving and working with others rather than simply on “winning.” Because doing so is guaranteed to help you actually win.
The Profit of Kindness is a practical guide that teaches you how to connect with others using the global asset known as kindness.
You will learn:
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Case for Kindness
In business, trust and authenticity are perhaps the most important currencies.
— Mats Lederhausen
When you decide to get into business, you begin swimming with the sharks. Therefore, every business decision, idea, innovation, and communication is based on staying alive in those infested waters. Except I don't agree.
My version of doing good business looks less like bloody, shark-infested waters and more like a Finding Nemo movie, where all species come together, making for a magical, harmonious, colorful, fun experience, and always with a great lesson at the end. The lesson I have learned throughout my work as a publicity strategist and consultant to hundreds of entrepreneurial and corporate clients is this: We are not sharks. Not even close.
When you think about your business model and how kindness fits in, we must start with being clear on how to be good to people and still make money. Or do you believe you need to be harsh with people, use network connections, manipulate customers, or have bad blood with vendors in order to keep your shingle out? Not the latter, of course. After all, what person actually wants to invite that kind of drama as a practical business strategy?
This book stands as my firm belief that kindness manifests in prospects, connectivity, customers, and yes, sales, which means profits and a successful business, large or small, scalable and sustainable.
Through years of meeting different types of businesspeople and helping them develop positive and impactful publicity and media relationships, I have come to understand more about why we should choose kindness in business over the traditional dog-eat-dog acumen. Digging around in Darwinism will reveal the survival of the fittest theory, but it turns out we are wired for much more than tearing the eyes out of the weak. Built into our human DNA is the desire and need to bond — to connect in deep, meaningful ways — and I believe that connectivity of all things is the most critical component of successful business, because without trustworthy and loyal relationships, it is impossible to be in business.
In Driven to Lead: Good, Bad, and Misguided Leadership Harvard Business School's Paul R. Lawrence agrees when he writes "... we are designed to accomplish things in groups — to lead and follow ... to learn from each other, to trust and protect and care for each other, to acquire what we need collectively even if we then enjoy it individually. We have evolved this way because it turned out to be a very successful means of survival."
To devour the weak might be instinctual, but humans thankfully have evolved by working cooperatively, relying on problem-solving skills instead of raw instinct. Lawrence explains that this is a pretty good working definition of leadership. Surviving by solving new problems as they come up using a plethora of avenues and ideas is considered good leadership.
What we need to survive as good leaders, beyond the two basic needs described by Abraham Maslow — sustenance and safety — are community and understanding. It is a basic human drive, a survival need to work together harmoniously, and at its most simple level to be kind. Acknowledging the latter two of the four needs, Paul Lawrence says it is "not only a snapshot for what is going on, it is also a blueprint for deciding what to do next at the helm of our business — because it is a blueprint for leadership."
Our species couldn't have survived if it weren't compelled to find food and avoid harm, but the existence of a drive to bond — to seek social bonds, attachments, and commitments — played a major role, and still does to this day.
I believe good leaders are led by their desire to bond. Connectivity with our clients, our patrons, our customers, and our competitors is a major pillar in good business, no matter how big or small. To be connected means to exercise acts of kindness consciously until they become unconscious natural behaviors as well as institutionalized in the business model, philosophy, mission, and atmosphere themselves. The drive to bond lends to this connectivity if kindness is enmeshed in the walls of the building and the hearts of its people.
When it comes to examples of profits — the dollars and cents kind as well as the wealth that is generated through fulfillment and service to others — I will be pointing to many anecdotal examples that I have come across in my work as a marketing advisor to small businesses and corporations throughout the past several decades. The people I will introduce you to in this book have demonstrated to me that the way toward profits, scalability, growth, and iconoclastic status is by connecting with people through the seemingly soft yet underestimated skill of kindness.
What Kindness Isn't
Maybe right now you're thinking to yourself: Kindness? Really? The last Harvard Business School class reunion didn't include a hand-held circle of MBAs singing Kumbaya. Maybe not, but the cream of the corporate crop has always known that a smart business strategy includes how customers are treated and perceived to be treated. In his article in the Harvard Business Review, Jeffrey F. Rayport writes about what was introduced by the Review two decades ago as "service recovery — a company's ability to respond quickly, decisively, and effectively to a service problem of its own making." For example, Rayport cites how Ritz-Carlton Hotels are famous for making every problem into what the company calls an "opportunity" and has proven to be a powerful way to increase loyalty among existing customers. Writes Rayport:
Here's how it works. When a problem occurs, swift and effective resolution can elevate repurchase intent to a level that's actually greater than if the problem had never occurred at all. Every problem, if managed well, is thus an 'opportunity' to boost overall loyalty among a company's already loyal customers. Spill soup on a guest in the hotel dining room? Solution: Offer on the spot to dry clean the suit or, if the damage is severe, offer to replace it entirely. The customer is delighted; the employee has done the right thing; the hotel raises that customer's lifetime value.
However, kindness is not saying please and thank you, or offering complimentary valet services, or hosting an annual holiday party, or making reparations for a clumsy waiter or rude receptionist. Depending on the business, these could be wise practices, but kindness goes as deep as doing all of these things when the fault is not your own, but of the customer, client, or even the employee.
Take Joan, for instance. She held the title of editorial director for about six weeks when her boss, and owner of Stratospheric Resources, Jack, had her travel to Toronto to pitch her first catalogue of books to the Canadian sales force. After an overnight stay and a breakfast and lunch sales call in New York, Joan would fly to Toronto in time for a business dinner.
Shortly after leaving her home base of Ft. Lauderdale, Joan looked out the window admiring her view above the Atlantic. Once the fasten seatbelt sign was off, she began to rustle through her bags, noticing one teeny problem: she had left her passport on her desk at the office. She was dizzy and distracted the rest of the flight, until the national accounts manager approached Joan about her sudden change in demeanor. After the manager broke the news to Jack, Joan couldn't bear to look either of them in the face. So much for being at the helm of the editorial department.
She hid in her hotel room and cancelled a dinner invitation with an old colleague from the city. She went into self-punishment and self-deprecation mode, planning to step down if she wasn't already fired. Then her phone rang. It was Jack. "Call your husband and ask him to bring your passport to the office. A courier will pick it up and have the passport to us by tomorrow so we can get you to Toronto. After all, we need you there."
As promised, the next day, Joan's passport was in her hands, and she and Jack were off to meet the Canadians. Joan begged Jack to take the expense for an overnight courier out of her pay, but he refused, saying, "It was a mistake. It won't happen again. Now let's have a good meeting."
Joan never forgot her passport again, and never forgot the compassion Jack showed her on that trip. She had bigger things on her mind than her passport: a catalogue to pitch, new people to meet, and a staff to lead. Jack could've thought that he made a big mistake with his new hire, chastised her, and even put her on notice, but instead he afforded her the right to fail, trusting that turning the other cheek would result in her never letting him down again. Jack's kindness was actually a motivator to his employee to pay it forward big time, in the form of hard work, loyalty, and personal accountability to the firm. If he had gone the other way, Joan believes she would have never made it to the sales conference or been able to connect on a personal and respectable level with her publisher.
This is kindness that counts. Not the "customer is always right" or the "I'm the boss" approach, but the heartfelt way through the business world. The currency of kindness is the kind of payment deposited straight from the heart of a person, and it is that heart and that kind of grace that I believe to be the center of successful business strategy. In the New York Times best-selling book, Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck, published by Harvard Business Review Press, the author team of Anthony Tjan, Richard Harrington, and Tsun-Yan Hsieh introduce the idea of heart-driven entrepreneurs, describing them as being fundamentally different than the rest of the population. "Heart-driven founders connect with a passion and a purpose deep down inside. They are inspired by everything they touch, see, do, and hear. They are unconventionally idealistic. They carry a different risk profile. ... A heart-driven person cares less about what she lacks and more about what she can achieve with what she already has."
The kindness that I am talking throughout this book is a currency chosen by business owners because it keeps them connected with the reasons they got into their line of business in the first place. Every day, when they are conscious of being kind, whether to an employee, partner, contractor, customer, or client, they are answering questions such as "Why am I here?," "Why have I chosen to do this?," and "Why do I keep getting up, day after day?"
When you act in accordance with your character as well as your passion and purpose for your business, profits will rise, employee turnover will lower, and customer loyalty will skyrocket. However, kindness in all of its simplicity is a loaded word. It's a term for a host of other traits, behaviors, emotions, and actions that must be exhibited on a daily basis in order to cash in on kindness. Just as we pay for goods and services using cash, credit, and even bartering, kindness currency varies. These characteristics or pathways can be used alone or in tandem to increase connection, prospects, and customers, helping you to begin brainstorming each kindness characteristic as a pathway to your business goals.
The Golden Rule Redux
"Do unto others have you will have done unto you" is known as the Golden Rule, and it isn't reserved for religion. In business, we want to treat others kindly, and if we veer off course, this Golden Rule can act as a beacon for us to consider "Would I want this done to me?" However, when I discussed the use of the Golden Rule as a way toward kindness in business with my friend Ivan Misner, founder and chief visionary officer of BNI, he said he didn't follow the Golden Rule at all. This sounded preposterous, after all Misner founded his consultancy business in California on the premise of "looking for referrals for my consultancy practice and for fellow business people who I liked and trusted." Then Misner created the concept statement around which BNI now operates: Givers Gain. And it's worked famously, as BNI now claims to be the largest business networking group in the world!
Turns out Misner upgraded the Golden Rule to what Tony Alessandra coined as the Platinum Rule, which teaches "Treat others the way that they want to be treated." What this did for Misner, as it does for so many others, was take the me- centricity out of doing business. "The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others," explains Alessandra. "The focus of relationships shifts from 'this is what I want, so I'll give everyone the same thing' to 'let me first understand what they want and then I'll give it to them.'"
This idea of a baseline that doesn't begin with us is the way to achieve true connection in business — the type of relationships that grow out of mutual trust and respect and therefore go the distance. BNI, founded mostly on connection, brings to mind the phrase "It's not what you know, it's who you know." But Misner has a twist on this famous phrase: "I think it's neither. I think it's how well you know who you know that really counts," he says.
Achieving that kind of intimacy, the familiarity with a person that helps you foresee what they need and want, requires we think of ourselves not first, not as golden, but as if the other is platinum, the first priority.
Return on Your Characteristics
The root of the word characteristic is "character," and isn't that what we are really talking about here? Kindness and good character go hand-in-hand. When you have good character, you possess the characteristics of kindness that let people know you are caring, responsible, trustworthy, respectful, fair, and a good citizen. And just as there are returns on investment in business, there are returns on character — high returns.
Fred Kiel, founder of KRL International, based most of his career demonstrating that zeroing in on the kindness characteristics that make up the core of our humanity is what produces life-affirming inner change, which in turn leads to increased "virtuosity and true excellence as a leader."
In his book Return on Character: The Real Reason Leaders and Their Companies Win, based on his seven-year research study of the same name, Kiel shares the story of resigning as CEO of a large company and launching a new solo practice with the vision of using his energy, talents, and skills to help leaders of large business organizations "connect their heads to their hearts."
"Our research returned an observable and consistent relationship between character-driven leaders and better business results," writes Kiel. "Leaders with stronger morals and principles do, in fact, deliver a Return on Character, or ROC. Organizational leadership that ranks high on the ROC character-assessment scale achieves nearly five times the return on assets that leaders who fall at the bottom of the curve achieve."
And what's more encouraging is that even if you haven't been operating from the perspective of a "heart-driven" or "character- driven" business owner, we all have the capability to learn and create new habits based on these humanistic qualities. As Kiel says, "... people demonstrate character through habitual behaviors. Therefore, they can develop the habits of strong character and 'unlearn' the habits of poor character. Further, by doing so, they can improve their results — in both business and personal outcomes."
It was in Return on Character where I was introduced to the work of anthropologist and author Donald Brown, who has identified nearly 500 behaviors and characteristics that all human societies recognize and use. Kiel drew from this list when he and his research team chose the four universal moral principles of integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion that comprised his framework of character. These principles were present in a large range of common human behaviors and traits, including:
* Telling right from wrong (integrity).
* Communication used to misinform or mislead (lack of integrity).
* Undoing of wrongs (responsibility).
* Self-control (responsibility).
* Cooperation (forgiveness).
* Resolution of conflict (forgiveness).
* Empathy (compassion).
* Attachment (compassion).
* Affection (compassion).
Those corporate leaders who demonstrated more of these attributes were scored by their employees as "Virtuoso CEOs," while those who performed low on the character scale were labeled "Self-focused CEOs."
Virtuoso CEOs were described as those putting the success and welfare of people ahead of their own while the Self-focused CEOs were characterized as placing their own welfare and success at the top of their list of concerns. Employees can't help but take note of this, just as Joan recognized when her publisher Jack acted with a high amount of character during the business trip that almost wasn't.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Profit of Kindness"
Copyright © 2017 Jill Lublin.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Move Over Cash, There's a New King in Town,
Chapter 1: The Case for Kindness,
Chapter 2: Connection,
Chapter 3: Gratitude,
Chapter 4: Patience,
Chapter 5: Flexibility,
Chapter 6: Generosity,
Chapter 7: Compassion,
Chapter 8: Positivity,
About the Author,