Sunday, October 30, 2011

Build the Relationship

I recently read a blog in the Harvard Business Review called The Values Proposal: Do Small Things with Great Love by Bill Taylor, a business writer and cofounder of the magazine Fast Company.  Taylor’s blog centers around an aphorism of Mother Theresa contained in the title - Do Small Things with Great Love.  Taylor’s suggestion is that business needs to take this idea as their mantra.
Much of Being Frank has been devoted to encouraging readers to find their path to happiness through both their inner thoughts and the outward manifestation of those thoughts into action.  Sharing a smile, even when it is hard, can brighten both your and others’ day (Fake it ‘til it’s Real), letting go of your past so your actions are only informed by your present (Held Hostage), and giving yourself permission to be who you are (Free from Judgement), are some of the suggestions I have made.
Her Book, The Mary Kay Way, illustrates her
business principals.
I have never thought to consider the business angle.  Sitting here now, typing this, I feel a little silly.  I have written many times about Samantha’s Mary Kay experience, about the company ideals and what they have taught me.  How silly of me that I would never consider the business culture of a multi-billion dollar, debt-free, cosmetics company when considering how a business might apply a Being Frank set of morals.
What is the key?  Well, according to Taylor, the key is having a set of Values and utilizing those values to inform your business model.  Using Mother Theresa’s aphorism,  Taylor opines that it is in the best interest of a business to act out of kindness and concern for their customers, not simply because of the bottom line.  A company that appears to only be concerned about its self interest may get your dollars now, but not your long-term business.  Unfortunately, much of corporate America seems only to be concerned with the immediate instead of the future.
Companies with a Values Proposition will have more long-term success than a company who is out for your dollar.  Having Values will generate value, something American investors like to see.  By investing in their clients, a company will help to guarantee future investments of their own.  They are creating a relationship.
Mary Kay has known this for years, long before Samantha was ever involved.  A successful Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant isn’t pushy, she (or he) builds relationships.  When a consultant step into someone’s living or dining room, they are there as their guest.  While a sale right then is always great, beginning a relationship with that customer is more important.  Through the consultant’s relationship with their client, they establish a long term customer, which guarantees success down the road for both the consultant and ultimately, for the Mary Kay Corporation.  I have sat through many training sessions with Samantha at both the local, regional, and national level, and every single time, the idea, if not the words, of doing small things with great love has been expressed.
Gary Vaynerchuk, of, and, echoes the same sentiment in a talk he gave to NYU’s Stern School of Business.  

Gary V stresses the importance of building relationships with customers.  My favorite line from the video is when he complains about the flavor of Bud Light Lime, and a minute later a Bud Light rep shows up at his door.  This is the kind of business market we are headed into.  If a business isn’t building a relationship with you, then they are at risk of losing your business to another company that does.
My business runs on the same mantra, though I never really looked at it this way until reading the Taylor article and seeing the Gary V video.  In my educational endeavors, I build a three-fold relationship with every lesson I teach.  
Not me.  I am a dude.
First, I build a relationship with the student - do we click on a personal level, are we at a place where I can understand them and they me, and do we have a trust?  Before any of the information or skill I have to offer come into play, I have to ensure that this structure is in place.  The more established the student/teacher relationship becomes, the better chance I have at improving that student on their instrument.
Second, I build a relationship with the parents.  The parents of any student I teach are not concerned with the fact that I teach nearly seventy others students a week; they are only concerned with the fact that I teach theirs.  I must make sure to communicate with them based regarding expectations, student achievement, and organizational matters.  If I appear out of synch with them or their student, then our business relationship will soon come to an end.
Finally, I build a relationship with the band directors.  Without that relationship, I would never be able to step in the door of the school in the first place, or receive a recommendation to the parents that I teach their students.  When I first private taught years ago, I never considered the fact that that the students I taught were first and foremost the students of those band directors.  Operating within the band program’s parameters enables you to both educate the student, and oftentimes expand the knowledge within the program.
Damaging any one of these relationships would degrade my business.  The same can be said for my music arranging and drill writing business - if they don’t know me before I write for them, they take a risk in hiring me.  It is my responsibility to build the relationship from the ground up while we work together.  
Finally, you and I have a relationship; my hope is that it isn’t just a one night stand.  My efforts in constructing Being Frank into a blog that encourages readers to come back are grounded in building a long lasting relationship through relevant content and timely messages.
No matter your angle, business or personal, everything you do helps to build a relationship with someone.  Follow Mother Theresa’s advice - do small things with great love.  While it may appear to inconvenience you in the present, the investment in your future is completely worth it.


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