The "L" Word in Business
Big thanks to Sarah Jacob, Idea Champions' Dutchess of Business Development for this fine post.
I recently had the delightful privilege of attending HSM's World Innovation Forum in New York City -- two days of luminous speakers on a broad spectrum of innovation-themed topics.
With tickets at $2,500 a pop, attendees were heavy-hitters at major corporations from around the globe -- a no-nonsense crowd.
Jean-Claude Biver was one of the first speakers.
Not many CEOs have helped their company grow revenues from $24 million to $100 million in two years. Biver did at Hublot Geneve, a Swiss watchmaker that sells ten thousand dollar watches -- a product which he admits are now "totally useless" since most people these days use their smartphones to check the time.
Gesturing to the glittery watch on his wrist with a slightly baffled look, he shrugged and laughed.
The silver-haired entrepreneur began his presentation by letting us in on a little known fact: he was a hippie in the 60s, shaped by the Beatles and his many visits to Woodstock.
"First, we have to share," he explained. "Giving employees a bonus at the end of the year is not sharing. It is justice. It is important to share experiences, knowledge, doubts, and the process of success."
And then he dropped the L-bomb.
"Sharing," he declared, "is an act of love."
I was intrigued that this man was brave enough to speak that depth of truth to an audience of businesspeople.
I looked around and noticed a few people shift in their seats.
Biver went on to pitch us Principle #2: Respect, making note that self-respect was primary.
"If you don't respect yourself," he asked, "how can you respect others, or your customers, suppliers, or the earth? A person who respects himself is guided by love."
There it was AGAIN, the word "love"!
I glanced sideways.
A man got up and awkwardly sidestepped his way to the aisle. Then a woman. I stayed put, captivated.
Principle #3: Forgiveness.
"We must forgive every mistake," he explained, "but only once. You cannot make the same mistake twice."
At Hublot Geneve, Monday was the day for sharing mistakes, and for every mistake shared, employees received a bonus. The result? People got used to sharing mistakes, and everyone got the benefit of the lesson.
"Forgiveness," he said, smiling, "is an act of love."
BOLD. This man was talking about LOVE at a global business conference of people who controlled billions of dollars! He was not talking about metrics or social media or ROI. Love!
And I was loving it.
In my experience, love is at the core of any kind, generous, authentic interaction.
A corporate culture that fosters the values of freedom, autonomy, purpose, mastery, integrity, and responsibility is a culture that is really about love -- a feeling that starts with inspired leaders who care. These leaders want to make the world a better place and deliver something great, while valuing the well-being of every person they employ.
I know this inside and out, having left a six-figure job in an investment firm three years ago to do what I loved: to travel the world dancing tango.
But did others in this sophisticated business crowd know this? Could they hear Biver's message? Business movers and shakers are often distracted by the depths of data, deadlines, and deliverables and miss the chance to be authentic.
I'm guessing the word love doesn't come up too often in their weekly staff meetings. But maybe it should.
"If people act from love," Biver explained, "then they are strong."
A company with this kind of culture, Bivre continued, is one where people are comfortable, ethical, enjoy themselves, and are happy to share. They help each other, and that support makes each person stronger and the organization great -- not to mention profitable -- even if they sell incredibly expensive, useless, luxury items in a soft economy.
Jean Claude Biver's closing comment?
"My biggest asset is that I was a hippie. Thank you Woodstock, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones."
Hallelujah! As the Director of Business Development for an innovation consultancy actually headquartered in Woodstock, I thank you, Mr. Biver, for unapologetically using a word that is taboo in American corporate culture.
Let's start a revolution.
Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at August 5, 2012 10:18 PM
That's all that I want to add!
Best wishes and love, Roger
Posted by: RogerEllman at August 6, 2012 04:20 AM
Great article. This reminds me of a book from the titled "For Love and Profit" by Jame A. Autry, that I gave to my VP back in the '80s. This is how I've always managed. By my VP's actions, It didn't appear that he read it, nor did he appreciate my feeble attempt at managing up!
You incorrectly attributed the actual source for your list of principles...as they certainly didn't arise from the kind of love that was the focus of the 60's, rather they came from the best selling book in the history of the world (and for good reason).
Although, not politically correct, the Bible is replete with these principles...including a principle that is no longer allowed to be discussed in our public schools...the Golden Rule. We could live our lives, just like our forefathers successfully did, by this one simple rule. Keep the great articles on how to best engage employees!! Love It!!
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