Excerpt from Know What You're FOR: A Growth Strategy for Work, An Even Better Strategy for Life by Jeff Henderson
Know What You're FOR Introduction
Most of what we’ve been taught about marketing is presumptuous.
As if the goal is to interrupt someone’s life by seeing who can shout the loudest and command the most attention.
Delaying a YouTube video with a five-second ad doesn’t create an emotional bond with a customer, especially when the ad, unlike the video, never has trouble buffering.
Much like an uninvited dinner guest who shows up inquiring about the menu, it’s all a bit rude, pretentious, emotionally unaware.
And it’s no longer working.
At least not like it used to, and it’s only going to get worse.
Or, actually, better.
You see, there’s a new way, a better way.
It’s been here the whole time, like most fundamental truths that for a season are lost.
We need to find that truth again, to become reacquainted with a better way.
A way that doesn’t want to take but strives to add.
A way that benefits both Wall Street and Main Street.
A way that is less concerned about creating fans and more about becoming a fan.
It’s about treating customers not as algorithms but as people.
It’s no longer telling people how great our products are and why we’re better than our competitors.
It’s about something far deeper, more profound. More substantial.
The thriving organizations of the future will find this way and walk the path. They will stand for something bigger than keeping the business alive. When this happens, organizations no longer have to worry about staying alive. That responsibility shifts to the customer—one they’ll gladly take on.
When customers realize an organization is truly for them, they return the favor.
It doesn’t require shouting. It doesn’t require interruptions. It doesn’t require demeaning the competition.
Those ways, thankfully, are fading away.
A new way is emerging, one that is better for the world around you, and for you.
It’s a better strategy for work.
And an even better strategy for life.
It’s what happens when you build an organization around who you’re FOR.
It’s what happens when you build your life around it as well.
In a hypercritical, cynical world, one that is often known for what it’s against, let’s be a group of people known for who and what we’re FOR.
In a nutshell, that’s what this book is about. It’s the journey ahead. It’s a community of people who want to build, not tear down.
If that describes you, and I have a feeling it does, welcome to FOR.
Driving Mr. Cathy
I was driving around town with a billionaire.
There were only two of us in the car. One of us had our 401(k) fully funded—about a billion times over. One of us didn’t. One of us had invented the chicken sandwich. One of us hadn’t. This explains the 401(k) discrepancies.
I don’t often drive famous billionaires around. The only other time this had happened was, well, never.
I’m not sure what your experience has been driving these folks around, but I found myself driving slower, more cautiously. I could see the headlines if I somehow caused a wreck or scene. I didn’t want that to be my fifteen minutes of fame.
Hands at ten and two. Eyes on the road.
My passenger was Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, the inventor of the chicken sandwich and at that time my boss’s boss’s boss. I was driving Truett to a speaking engagement. I can’t remember where we were going or even how I got the keys to a white Ford with cow spots on it. But here we were. The only cow-spotted car driving down the road as others passed us by with a wave or a smile.
Remember, eyes on the road. Hands at ten and two. Slow down, Jeff. Slow down.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this car ride would follow me for years. I’ve talked about it from time to time. In looking back, I’m glad I drove slower. It allowed more time just to talk. Looking back on this drive is like putting on a pair of jeans and discovering you have a $20 bill in your pocket. It’s a gift, a surprise. You smile. Today’s going to be a good day. I’m $20 ahead already.
What surprised me about our conversation wasn’t that Truett asked questions; it was the kind of questions he asked me. Remember, he’s the boss. I work for him. Surely, we’re going to talk about the business. Sales. Chicken. But no. We talked about . . . me. And not the surface level, “How are you doing?” with a quick transition to “Let’s talk about the business.” He was actually interested in me. He wanted to know how Wendy and the kids were doing. He asked about my mom and dad. We talked about parenting, about being a great husband. We talked about things of permanence. I drove slower.
One of my favorite parts of life is when unsuspecting moments become unforgettable memories. I love Disney World—but you walk into the Magic Kingdom expecting (and paying for) the memories.
I love the moments that catch you by surprise—moments you don’t recognize at the time. Humble moments that take their time. They quietly make their way through the crowded thoughts, experiences, and memories in your brain, and before you know it, they’re standing beside you. At some point, you turn and recognize how this moment became a memory and how it has been shaping you the whole time.
My car ride with Truett Cathy was one such moment. The questions he asked and his willingness to listen planted a seed in me. I realized that Truett was FOR me. He was more interested in what he could do FOR me than in what I could do FOR him.
Eventually it dawned on me. This was the counterintuitive process he used to grow the business. Here’s how:
Truett was more interested in the business growing people than he was in people growing the business. And that’s exactly how his business grew.
When you are FOR the people in and around your business, the people in and around your business become FOR you. This may sound altruistic, but I believe it is the way of the future for businesses and organizations going forward. I also believe it can help deal with a fundamental issue every organization fears—declining sales and momentum.
If you are currently experiencing a decline in sales or momentum, this book is written for you. If you ever fear a decline in sales or momentum, this book is written for you. If you are experiencing a decline in participation in a nonprofit organization, this book is written for you as well. And if you’re experiencing a decline in momentum or growth personally, this book is for you too.
FOR is about growing the business and the people in the business—and that, of course, includes you. What we’re going to discover is that growing, improving organizations are full of growing, improving people. Growth is a nonnegotiable. Without it, bad things happen.
Healthy things grow.
Unhealthy things die.
I believe the world needs healthier, growing businesses. I believe the world needs more thriving nonprofit organizations. And within both, I believe we need more thriving, growing people.
It’s why the car ride with Truett clued me in on one of his secrets to growing his business. Over time, I’ve boiled the secret down to two questions. Sure, there are plenty of reasons and factors that cause an organization to grow. However, if you forced me to describe growth in a simple way that everyone can understand, I’ll point you to the two questions we’re going to reveal in this book. My experience is that these two questions are the catalyst for growth in businesses, organizations, and people. It’s where purpose and action meet.
For example, when a business leverages the power of the two questions in this book, it harnesses the greatest form of advertising the world has ever seen—positive word-of-mouth advertising.
It’s why, if you want your business or nonprofit to grow, the answers to these two questions must match. When the team of any organization understands these two questions and what their roles are to make them match, momentum is bound to follow. It’s not easy, but it is simple.
This is going to require us to rethink our business approach. I believe businesses can make a profit and improve the world. However, our approach to marketing and messaging needs to change. Instead of shouting about how great the business is, we need to start talking about how great our customers are and engage with them about their life.
Thriving businesses will practice less monologue and more dialogue.
In today’s world, if a CEO is riding in a car with a customer, the primary topic of conversation will be about the business. “Have you seen our new product?” “Did you see our latest offer?” “Did you see we are better and cheaper than our competitor?”
In other words, it’s all about the business. It’s all monologue. But customers are walking away from that kind of approach.
The thriving businesses of tomorrow will take a different approach. Instead of talking about the business, the CEO will ask different questions. Far less about the business. Far more about the customer. “How are you?” “What are your dreams, your hopes?” “How can we help?”
If this sounds obvious, trust me. It’s not. In the first section of the book, I’ll prove it. When I present this concept to business leaders, they lean back and say, “Jeff, we already do this. We engage and talk with our customers about them.” Then, with one click of a button, I show them something about their business that is the complete opposite of what they just said. Their usual response is, “Oh, wow.” Sometimes the three-letter word wow is replaced with a four-letter word, but who’s counting?
The reason I’ve written this book is to help your business or nonprofit organization grow. Yes, that growth definitely includes sales and momentum, but it’s even better than that. You can grow sales and value—real human value. You can grow the business by growing the people in your business. And in the process, you grow too.
You do this by being FOR people. You do this by helping people move closer to their potential. To be more FOR them than you are FOR yourself.
In today’s world, what’s good
for people is good for
It’s a fantastic strategy for business.
More importantly, it’s a fantastic strategy for life.
The beautiful part is you don’t have to pick between those two. In today’s world, what’s good for people is good for business.
Four for FOR
To get there, here’s where we’re going. Once we’ve established the two questions your organization needs to ask and answer, we’re going to provide practical strategies you can implement to be FOR the people in your business.
For an organization to grow there are four groups to be FOR:
· the customer
· the team
· the community
· and you
When you are FOR these people, you create a combustible engine where positive word-of-mouth advertising is generated. When you are FOR these people, they return the favor. And yes, you are one of the four. I’ll show you how being FOR you is actually one of the best ways to be FOR the other three. It’s why this book will not only grow your organization; it will also grow you and your influence as well.
To get there, here’s a brief road map of where we’re going.
1. FOR the Customer
One of the primary ways a business grows is by creating a sales force for free. Everyone understands the value of positive word-of-mouth advertising. The problem is that it seems so elusive, even mysterious. We’re going to take the mystery out of it by giving you a very practical strategy for engaging with your customers.
In this section, we’ll introduce a relatively new form of customer engagement that very few brands, businesses, and organizations are leveraging. If you are interested in creating positive word-of-mouth advertising, this section will lead you there.
2. FOR the Team
An organization cannot create a healthy customer culture with an unhealthy team culture. When a team understands the organization and leadership are FOR them, they return the favor. One of the most important lessons we can’t afford to forget in any business is this: A customer is treated like the team is treated. For example, when I walk into a business, I can instantly tell how the team is being treated. It is flowing to me and the other customers.
One of the ways an organization accomplishes this is by having a clear, compelling vision that closes the gap between these two questions we’re going to look at in this book.
We are also going to provide practical ways for you to reinforce the vision of your organization. As we’ll see, vision rarely repeated is quickly forgotten.
But it’s not just about the vision of the organization. It’s about the vision you have for the team. People want to work for someone who clearly wants and believes the best in them. A business with a FOR mind-set understand that the first customer a leader has is the team. Too often, we try to solve this with off-site retreats. I’m all for off-sites, but they are often seen as a magical pill—the performance-enhancing steroid of organizational life.
Creating a culture where your team knows you are FOR them and they are FOR one another takes more time and intentionality than that. In this section, we are going to provide practical tips on how to make this happen. For example, let’s take on of the most unpopular parts of any organizational life—meetings. (Does anything in our work lives take more criticism than this?) Generally speaking, we all hate meetings. And yet, with a simple shift in our meeting preparation, we can leverage the time and create a FOR culture that turns often wasted time into leveraged time.
3. FOR the Community
It’s no longer enough to be the best company IN the world. It’s about being the best company FOR the world.
This is going to require having a bigger purpose than just “staying in business.” When businesses have a “bigger than us” mentality and see community impact as a measurement of business success, you are well on your way toward a purpose that rallies and inspires.
It’s no longer enough to be
the best company IN the
world. It’s about being the
best company FOR the world.
This is more than a volunteer service project once a year though. Being for your community requires a consistent, systematic, and sustainable process with both messaging and operations. The primary reason you rally around people in your community isn’t to get them to do business with you. You rally around the people in your community because, well, they are people in your community.
In this section, we’ll provide practical ways for your organization to show you are FOR your community. It’s not advertising. It’s real.
4. FOR You
This section is focused on the one person you have the most control over—you. Honestly, you’re probably the only person you have any real control over.
In order to breathe healthy life into the organization, you must ensure you’re breathing it in first. The best gift you can give your customers, your team, and your community is an inspired, rejuvenated, fully alive you.
It’s why this section is FOR you. One of the best ways this book can help your customers, team, and community is to help you. The first three will require a lot of output from you in terms of energy, creativity, and leadership. If we’re not careful, we’ll wake up one day with very little to give. That’s a loss for all four. In this section, you’ll find practical tips on how to give the people in your organization the best you. Additionally, you will find in the bonus section links to free assessments, such as a personal branding survey and the Four Presenter Voices helping you discover your presentation voice, along with an assessment for your organization. All of this is designed to help you and your career. After all, we need a healthy you.
It’s why FOR isn’t just a better strategy for work; it’s also a better strategy for life.
When these four groups grow—customers, team, community, and leaders—the organization grows as a result, even in the most challenging of situations.
My passenger in the car could tell you all about challenging situations. One of his most challenging was in 19822, when Chick-fil-A was facing new competitors, skyrocketing inflation, and the completion of a new $10 million corporate headquarters. That’s a lot of pressure riding on a chicken sandwich with two pickles.
In this challenging situation, Truett decided to do something that I’m going to challenge you to do—to clarify who he and the organization were FOR. I’m going to walk you through two questions to get us there and then apply it to the Four for FOR. By doing this, you will grow the business by growing the people in your business.
This isn’t theory. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve been the recipient of it. I have had the privilege of working for two thriving organizations at the top of their fields—Chick-fil-A and North Point Ministries. A few years ago, I realized it wasn’t just a blessing to work for these organizations. I had a stewardship responsibility to pass along what I had learned.
What caused them to grow? Are there similar principles that every organization can harness and apply to cause them to grow as well? I’ve discovered that there are, and that’s where we’re going in the journey ahead.
One of the lessons we’ll learn is that when your business is authentically FOR people, people will become authentically FOR the business. I’ve seen this not only in the business world but also in the nonprofit world, and I’ve even seen it in a car with cow spots, driving around town with a billionaire.
It’s time for a new way—a way that impacts both brick-and-mortar and online stores. A way that grows the business by growing people. A way that builds the best organizations FOR the world.
So buckle up. Here we go.
But don’t be concerned. I’ve driving slow. Ten and two. Eyes on the road.