These two words have become contradictory, a paradox of our times. So far removed from the other that putting them together in a sentence makes us feel slightly uncomfortable. There’s tension – can you feel it?
Business in our current Friedmanian paradigm is hard-edged, utilitarian. We ask “what can I get out of you?”
In contrast, love is soft and encompassing which sounds quite un-businesslike, asking “what can I give to you?”
Fortunately, this mindset is changing, we’re changing. Love is becoming more accessible in the workplace with amazing results.
I bought my first pair of New Balance sneakers in 2003, and haven’t bought another sneaker brand since. I’ve owned over nine pairs, with four pairs in my cupboard right now.
I never really understood why I was so drawn to this brand until now. New Balance is a loving company because it embodies a healing based market strategy. Founded on the principles of healing; to help people with problem feet by making arch supports and prescription footwear, New Balance was, and still is, all about comfort and fit. That’s why today they offer more shoe widths than any other major sneaker brand. For New Balance, healing depends on comfort and the right fit. That’s Love!
To be blunt, the goal of business for most is to make money. We do this by meeting the needs and wants of the market, but how we meet those needs is the key to unlocking this paradox.
Most would agree that improving customer loyalty leads to increased revenue generation. Yet customer loyalty is based more on how customers feel than what they think. Emotion trumps logic here.
To quote the book Firms of Endearment (FOE) which unpacks this rare business emotion, “Customer Loyalty is like love: it grows not from reason but from the heart.”
Love is beginning to make a comeback in mainstream business, with it now becoming acceptable to talk about love in the workplace (in a platonic sense of course), and to promote love between employees, or a company and its customers.
Most old-school business leaders hold a myopic focus on measurable numbers and profit line, and aren’t yet aware of how much profit is being gained by others who are bringing love into business, simply due to its qualitative nature. Our 20th century prophet Albert Einstein pointed out that “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Just like Love.
Let’s focus for a minute on what can be counted. In 2006 an aggregated list of all US publicly traded FOEs (that embrace love in business) including the likes of Amazon, Harley Davidson, Starbucks, and Google outperformed the S&P 500 stock market index by a staggering 8-to-1 ratio over a ten-year period, with an even a higher margin of out-performance over a five and three-year timeline.
Given this evidence, how do we become a love ambassador and amplify this powerful qualitative emotion in our jobs and businesses?
The answer is: Love is a two-way street. The more it’s given the more it’s received, flowing from company to stakeholder and once again back to company. This transaction of love amplifies itself and ‘buys’ greater stakeholder loyalty, which in-turn leads to greater revenue generation as a bi-product.
I firmly believe that giving more Love in our business dealings is the answer to many of the cold and dehumanising outcomes that businesses of old produce. In my experience it’s also the answer to feeling greater loyalty and fulfilment towards a company, as a customer and as an employee. Both of which translate to better business performance and financial success.
In short: Love is the answer!
Jimmy Hendrix said it best; “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”
And we will always remember to bring our Love to work.