Tuesday, May 8, 2012
In 2004 my world changed. It was altered, not because of events or circumstances, but because of context. I became a husband in 2004. I became a father in 2004, then again in 2005, and once more in 2008. Finally my wife told me that if I wanted another child I would have to do it with my next wife. Up until 2004 my identity existed on the basis of accomplishment, achievement, or circumstance. I suddenly found myself with an identity predicated by something different…context. My friend and fellow professional speaker John Crudele summed up the true meaning of context for me. He told me that the moon is only the moon because of the Earth. Its relationship to the earth is what frames its identity. He said without context and mutual attraction, it is just a rock floating in space.
I am a husband and father, not because of me or what I've done, but rather because of my relationship to my wife and kids. Just like our identity as a family member is determined by the relationship to the rest of the family, so is the identity of our customers. Our customers are not our customers because we exist. We are who we are because our customers exist. As a professional speaker and writer, I only maintain that identity if I have an audience. If not, I am just another opininated big mouth looking at an empty calendar on the wall of my office. I am a humorist. I believe that funny is funner so I try to incorporate humor into everything I do. I was once asked during an interview “what is the difference between a comedian and a humorist?” I thought for a minute about all of the humorists that I know and gave the most honest answer I could even though many comedians would disagree. I said that most comedians believe the audience is there for them. As a humorist, I am there for my audience. When you treat your customers as if your existence depends on them, you will be nicer, more efficient, more transparent, and just plain better than if you operate as if your customers need you. When your customer relationship is based on mutual attraction and context, you decommoditize your position in your industry and become the brand.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
I was recently at an event in Charlotte where I had the chance to meet a man who had made his career working in the cutthroat world of New York newspaper and magazine publishing. We were talking about the slow bleeding death of hard copy magazines and I told him that before she gave it up, they would have to pry US Weekly Magazine out of my wife’s cold, dead, fingers. He smiled and told me that he was the original editor of US Weekly. I was in the presence of celebrity gossip royalty. I couldn’t wait to tell my wife. We talked about journalism and the impact that blogs, social media, and wireless devices have had on the dessimination news and public perception. The good news is that thanks to Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook, we can receive information as it occurs. We followed the World Cup, the Arab Spring Revolution, and Lindsey Lohan’s latest stumble in real time. What can possibly be wrong with that? Accountability. He told me “Patrick, as a journalist, I am bound by rules. Sources must be vetted, information must be validated, opinions are not fact, and wikipedia is not a wellspring of truth. Bloggers, tweeters, and paparazzi are not bound by the same rules of journalism and ethics that I cut my teeth on.
Without accountability, we are doomed to developing a world view based on versions of the truth or outright falsehoods. There is a great line from the 1993 movie Jurassic Park where Jeff Goldblum’s character, Dr. Ian Malcolm is confronting billionaire John Hammond. He said “I’ll tell you the problem with the scientific power that you’re using here. It didn’t acquire any discipline to attain it. You read what others have done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourself so therefore you don’t take any responsibility for it.”
Like good journalism, creating profitable and productive relationships demands accountability. Those relationships are predicated on two fundamental elements…liking and trust. If your customers, teammates, or employees don’t feel that you are accountable for your actions and responsible for the outcomes you produce, then there can be no trust. Would you do business with someone you don't trust? I wouldn't. If you are a leader who doesn’t walk the talk, how can you expect your employees to cheerfully fulfill their responsibilities? If you are more concerned with closing a sale than providing value, how can you expect your customers to sing your praises? Build trust…build relationships…build profits.
- Patrick Henry
- Patrick Henry is a professional speaker, humorist, author, and songwriter who delivers funny and entertaining keynote speeches. Patrick shows audiences how to create IMPACT! by creating extraordinary customer, client and co-worker experiences. He is what happens when Keynotes, Comedy and Concerts...Collide!