Survival of the most passionate in the age of abundance and algorithm

Darwin taught us that only the fittest survive. Digital is showing us that only the most passionate live.

Data, content, and technology are evolving faster than brands can adapt, claiming businesses everywhere.

Only passionate brands (or people) with purpose, obsession, and grit survive in the age of abundance and algorithm.

To quote Tom Corley in Rich Habits, “Passion trumps everything; Passion trumps education. Passion trumps work ethic. Passion trumps intelligence. Passion trumps working capital. Passion trumps skills and years of technical proficiency. Passion trumps any advantage those who lack passion might have in life.”

“Passion overcomes every obstacle, every mistake, every failure. Nothing can stand in the way of a person with passion. These brands (people) never quit, and so they never fail.”

Digital is not about tech, data, or content. Digital is about passion, which makes us likely to adapt more quickly to change and perform better in a new environment.

The problem is that passion is in shorter supply than tech. Building a new app is easier than creating a passionate culture.

Brands built only on tech and data are not fit to survive this new world. They are less likely to adapt to a hybrid environment of data, tech, and human irrationalities that are rapidly changing.

We have seen this movie before, during the tech bubble where companies who only focused on technology, such as pet.com, webvan.com, etoys.com, and go.com, vanished.

To bring the point home, let’s look at Amazon’s fabric across four elements of passion. Amazon is a brand that not only survived the tech bubble, but it also has evolved into the biggest retailer in the U.S.

If you want to learn more about Amazon habits, check the “7 Customer Service Lessons” from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, by Kevin Baldacci.

Passionate brands have a clear mission, a guiding force behind their leadership.

Amazon’s vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company: to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online. This vision has been the guiding principles behind Jeff Bezos’s decisions over 18 years.

Passionate brands defy convention to stay true to their mission, no matter what.

The Kindle tablet came into existence purely defined by customers’ desires rather than engineers’ preferences and personal preferences. What was remarkable was that Bezos hardly faltered in creating a product built for the customers, even after it took years to construct the right hardware. One finance executive, in particular, learned quickly of his philosophy when he asked Bezos how much he was prepared to spend on the Kindle project, where the CEO quickly replied: “How much do we have?”

Passionate brands are obsessed with customers, not products. Focusing on the customers makes a company more resilient

Early on, Bezos brought an empty chair into meetings so lieutenants would be forced to think about the crucial participant who wasn’t in the room: the customer. Now that surrogate’s role is played by specially trained employees, dubbed “Customer Experience Bar Raisers.” When they frown, vice presidents tremble.

Passionate brands never settle.

In December of 2011, Jeff Bezos was “very proud” that Amazon was able to hit the unfathomable goal of delivering his promise to get packages to 99.9% of his customers before Christmas. It was no small feat transporting millions of packages worldwide and missing their mark on a handful of deliveries in just a few, short nights. To Bezos, though, there is still room for improvement, as he stated, “We’re not satisfied until it’s 100%.”

Hence, when change evolves faster than businesses can adapt, only the most passionate survive. They will leave the most copies of themselves in successive generations that are better designed for an immediate, new environment.

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