Sunday, April 8, 2012

Service First, Profit as a Side-Effect

My primary goal in business is service, and that takes two forms.

First, you take good care of your customers, treat them fairly and well, and you "go the extra mile" to make sure their experience with you is a good one.

Second, I believe that you should be in business to provide value to your customers.

I know there are a lot of businesses and even whole industries we could talk about that are exploitative, that make a buck on some sort of gradient or scarcity rather than providing value, but I don't really feel that those are worthy of my time and energy to pursue personally.

In my mind, in order to deserve to be in business and be successful, you should be concerned first and foremost with providing value to your customers.

A long time ago, when I was a young man and trying to figure out my path in life, I read something in the Whole Earth Catalog by J. Baldwin about Bucky Fuller and how he had dedicated his live to "advantaging all World-around humanity while disadvantaging no one" that really stuck with me.

Baldwin said something to the effect of (I'm paraphrasing here): "Look around for that important, valuable task that all the world needs doing and that only you can do, and do it, and you'll never have to worry about 'earning a living'."

It struck me as a truly wise way to operate (of course I was just a dumb teenager, so I could have been naive...)

The interesting thing about that plan was that even if you fail completely, you'll still have had a better time of it than someone who picks the straight-and-narrow path.

And, in my life at least, it has been a good way to operate.

There are so many ways to make a buck in this world, but there is only one YOU and your deepest, most personal dream is also the most profound way to contribute back to the whole world.

Be brave and stay awake!

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