Over the summer I have been reading the book: “Conscious Capitalism” by John Mackey the Co-CEO of Whole Foods. I have been taking my time with this book and have been working through each chapter highlighting the parts that really resonate. The principles in this book clearly articulated many of the feelings I have had about my internal and external professional relationships since I began my customer facing journey over a decade ago. In a way I felt like reading the book gave me permission to care about what I do and the value (outside of engineering) that I can add to relationships with customers.
For a long time I really tried to pinpoint why I love what I do so much and why good things seem to happen to me on my journey. What I am slowly beginning to realize is that when you share your passion, energy, and empathy with your customer — good things happen!
While my team delivers a service rather than an off the shelf product — we do produce incredible value for our customers.. Marrying the conscious capitalism ideas with government consulting and contracting I came up with a few guidelines that I have followed to make the most of each project that I am involved with.
Here’s what I’ve validated so far:
- Find a customer who shares your values. Be proactive in your search. This is likely the hardest part. It’s like searching for a new friend with the added complexity of a business relationship. This involves building trust and clear communication about the capabilities of your team and your vision. It is possible though. Stay open to the people you meet and listen to what they have to say before injecting your own opinion and bias into the equation.
- You may need to do some of the heavy lifting up front. I think it was Gary Vaynerchuk who first introduced me to the concept of giving away your best work in the beginning to reach your ultimate dream. Worry less about the bottom line and worry more about doing the right thing to get the attention of those who matter. Sometimes that means being a team player or it means passing on an opportunity if it does not align with your vision. Be patient and know that good things will happen as a result.
- Learn to say no. Be clear with your goals. Physically write them down - over and over again to make sure you stay aligned. Saying “no” can be difficult but when you know your goals like the back of your hand you can quickly qualify an opportunity and pass on it if it doesn’t get you further down the road.
My challenge to you today is — what are your priorities with valuing your relationship with your customers?
To be continued…