August 05, 2012
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.

Sarah's post on tango in business

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at August 5, 2012 10:18 PM


Love it!

That's all that I want to add!

Best wishes and love, Roger

Posted by: RogerEllman [TypeKey Profile Page] 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 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!!

Posted by: OldSchoolMan [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 6, 2012 11:52 AM

Post a comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?

Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.
Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
Authorized Reseller Logo –
Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
Brainstorm Facilitation
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Cultivating Innovation
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
Team Innovation
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

"In tune with corporate America." — CNN