Interview with Lewis Green - Lead With Your Heart

01/15/2008

Based on the title, Lead_with_your_heart Lead With Your Heart - subtitled Sell Happiness and You and Your Business Will Flourish,  you might assume Lewis Green's (of the popular blog Bizsolutions plus) newest book is a box of candy ideas. But I can assure you that Lewis pulls no soft punches (or too sweet cream centers) when he describes his vision of a business/marketing model based on putting customers and employees first.

Lead With Your Heart is well researched .. full of advice not only from Lewis but the best of from many business leaders. In fact, make sure you check out Resource page for other business reads. One of my favorites is the 10 New Rules Of Branding by Simon Williams, The Sterling Group.

1. Brands that influence culture sell more; culture is the new catalyst for growth. 2. A brand with no point of view has no point; full-flavor branding is in, vanilla is out. 3. Today's consumer is leading the front; this is the smartest generation to have ever walked the planet. 4. Customization wherever and whenever you can; customization is tomorrow's killer whale. 5. Forget the transaction -just five me an experience. 6. Deliver clarity at point of purchase; be obsessive about presentation. 7. You are only as good as your weakest link. 8. Social responsibility is no longer an option. 9. Pulse, pace, and passion really make the difference. 10. Innovation is the new boardroom favorite.

So okay .. we have a new way to do business that just might resonate with you but how do you put it into action? The book includes practical how-to lists, points to ponder and tips, tips and more tips.
Sidebar
: Love to have a stand alone index - these resources are that rich and valuable.

With that, please meet my friend Lewis Green who agreed to a Diva-type interview.

Toby/Diva Marketing: For those people who have not read Lead With Your Heart how would describe your new book? Is it a book about business management or is it a book about marketing?

Lewis Green: If I must choose, it is a book about business management, with chapters on most functional areas within a business, and with a heavy focus on marketing and communications. The premise is that leaders and entrepreneurs should put people first, not profits. And that business should be value based. If businesses are run on that foundation, they will make the world a better place to live and work, without sacrificing profits or revenues.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Do you see any similarities in a model based on “happiness” and the marketing ideology that is evolving from social media that we sometimes call conversational or participation marketing?

Lewis Green: To date, conversational or participation marketing (social media) seems focused mostly on how to use the tools instead of on results. That’s natural, as these tactics are still in their infancy. When I talk about “happiness,” I talk about always putting people first by meeting their wants and needs, by using values to filter all business decisions and by creating great customer experiences based on trust, credibility and authenticity. When we follow those guidelines in our interactions with all people (employees, customers, potential customers and the communities we do business in), we create a state of happiness.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Change seems to be the word of the moment. To succeed in changing a business culture e.g., one that embraces the philosophy you outline in “Lead With Your Heart,” that direction must come from the top down. However, it is middle managers who are responsible for implementing the tactics. What are a few suggestions to ensure that occurs with the happiness model?

Lewis Green: To change a culture is a bit like stopping a run-away freight train. Some damage will occur. Managers is a word I wish we didn’t use in business, as managing people destroys the results that “Lead With Your Heart” is designed to create—a spirit and passion where innovation, creativity and flexibility rule. In today’s world, we need leaders who inspire and motivate and then get out of the way so employees can both fail without fear and succeed without hindrance. And that is my first recommendation to managers—become passionate leaders, hire great people that fit the culture and let them do great things.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Lewis, on page 63 you say, “I don’t think a $200 Coach bag vs. a $30 bag has anything to do with personal happiness.” I beg to differ. Perhaps I’m showing a shallow side but I would be way happier with that Coach purse than with a $30 bag. (smile)

I couldn’t resist a tease, but seriously, I realize you were jumping off John Gaffney’s concept of consumer engagement which includes five elements of customer engagement: Identification, Recommendation, Experience, Aspiration and Anticipation. “When those things come together for customers and when employees create those types of experiences, businesses achieve a happiness that results in great companies and great brands.” - Lead With the Heart

 Do you believe that businesses/employees can create this type of consumer experience if the culture is not based on a type of “happiness” model? And if so why then go through the expense to change the business model?

 Lewis Green: As I said in response to the previous question, cultures that are engrained, that represent a business, are difficult to change. And to do so likely will require pain, including some layoffs—both of those employees who don’t fit a culture that is people-centric and to reduce the size of any bureaucracy, which gets in the way of innovation, creativity, and decision-making capabilities at the levels where customers and employees interact. The two keys to a successful culture based on the model presented in Lead With Your Heart are employee, customer and community-focus (engagement) and passion.

When those two factors are in place, engrained cultures can begin to move in the right direction. The first step requires getting the right people into the right jobs. The second step must come from leadership making it clear that the culture is a place where everyone can say “yes” and not a place where everyone says “No” and then reinforcing that by allowing decision-making at the lowest levels of the company, by encouraging employee’s ideas and creativity and by eliminating middle management—not the people but the titles. Furthermore, employee compensation must be based on the contributions an employee makes in achieving the business goals, not based on titles. So, for example, an engineer may actually make more money than the VP he or she reports to.

Finally, every employee, regardless of job description, must be evaluated based on their service to others. For example, accounting must be held responsible and accountable to the quality of service they give to both internal and external customers. This is a top-line answer that cannot possible approach the details necessary for a proper answer. However, at the end of the day a business-start-up or an established business will earn the ROI and the brand recognition that makes this all worthwhile. And the world will benefit, as well.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Let’s get down to a few brass tack tactics. What would a brand loyalty program look like if based on the Lead With The Heart model?

Lewis Green: A brand loyalty program would look much like what we once saw at Starbucks, where everybody knows your name, greets you with a smile, and you are occasionally surprised by a gift.

  • It’s the old TV show “Cheers,” where the bar is a metaphor for conversation, friendship, feelings, honesty, authenticity and relationships.
  • It’s where customers feel as if they are VIPs and that the business sincerely cares about them.
  • It’s a thank you note, a check-up call asking me if my wants and needs are being met or exceeded.
  • It’s a program that begins and ends with employees, the customer touch points.

Every employee must be well-trained, must have wonderful people skills and must be treated as if they are the most important people in the business, because they are.

And without a happiness model, that kind of culture is difficult to create. As for costs, they are short term as we mold the culture to be people-centric, give up control from the top-down, and likely lay off people who don’t fit the model. The ROI potential exceeds that of any model that isn’t based on what I call in the book “happiness,” which simply is a word to form an umbrella over the concept of always placing people first.

Toby/Diva Marketing: In Lead With Your Heart you say, “Happiness is the driving force behind everything American do.” Happiness seems like such a simple concept however, it can be more difficult to be “happy” than to be “sad.” What are some of the business challenges of being “sad?” On the flip side what are a few of the benefits of being happy?

Lewis Green: Actually, sad in this model isn’t the opposite of happy. Arrogance, control, greed, dishonesty, and fake are some of the words that represent antonyms to the happiness I discuss.

As most large companies discover, when businesses operate on what I will call the “winning” model, as described by Jack Welch, the potential for unprofitable mergers and acquisitions increases, the potential for scandal grows (as occurred under Welch’s guidance at GE), employee turnover increases, productivity is never maximized, and passion does not exist around the brand.

The benefits of the happiness model includes the opposite of what I just described, as well as the occurrence of brand evangelism, greater margins, healthy revenues (which may or may not exceed those of the “winning” model), and most important, a better world in which to live and work. I show all these things in Lead With Your Heart through real business examples.

Toby/Diva Marketing: It seems appropriate to end this interview on a personal happiness note. What is business happiness to Lewis Green?

 Lewis Green: Business happiness is waking up each day and looking forward to heading for the office; it is customers who feel good about working with us; it is making a positive difference in those we touch and in the planet we share.

Lead With Your Heart - Chapter One Free Download

Bloggy disclosure: Lewis kindly sent me a copy of the book.

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Comments

Toby,

So nice to be interviewed by the Diva. Does that make me a Divo? Thank you!

Posted by: Lewis Green on Jan 16, 2008 7:25:10 AM

Lewis - you were always a divo (smile)

Posted by: Toby on Jan 16, 2008 9:33:33 AM

Toby,
This interview was fabulous! I love Lewis's concept. Wouldn't it be amazing if businesses actually started using this? It's so important. The U.S. does have this happiness focused culture, we're just looking for it in the wrong places. Thanks so much for this posting.

If you have a chance, stop by Retail Design Diva to find out if you're a social researcher - the newest breed of shopper. :)

Cheers,
Heather

Posted by: Heather Strang on Jan 17, 2008 1:38:41 PM

Heather,

Thank you so much for your comment to Toby. Most people are good and want to good. But in business we have outside responsibilities to all our shareholders. Lead With Your Heart shows businesses and leaders how to both do the right thing and be profitable.

Posted by: Lewis Green on Jan 17, 2008 3:50:56 PM

@Heather - if companies put employees and customers first .. WoW.

Posted by: Toby on Jan 17, 2008 3:55:02 PM

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