Looking back to 2012 one more time before we move on to 2013
Dipping Your Toe in the Tank with the Sharks

Friday Musings - Myths of the Business Kind

New-pic-yvonneby Yvonne DiVita

I've been doing what most entrepreneurs and CEOs are doing at this time of the year - reflecting on times past and attempting to prepare for times to come. As I read other blogs and watch the conversations on Facebook, I find myself heaving sigh after sigh.

Is there no originality in business, anymore? Is innovation truly dead? And, why do we promote 'famous quotes' that turn out to be (a) not famous and(b) not useful? You know you do it - sadly, I do it, also. 

That led me to thinking about all the ways we humans try to influence others, with our words. I came to this conclusion - the myths we chase, the stories we believe, the ideas we want to share... are too often stale, uninspiring and false.

For instance: Don't take yourself seriously. That's a popular quote - it generates a lot of press. It creates its own myth - the myth of the happy workplace where the 'boss' loves everybody and everybody loves the boss. Hogwash.

If you don't take yourself seriously, who will? If you aren't serious about your business - and sometimes that means being serious about time off or events or family matters - you're just play-acting. Business is serious. It lends itself to being frivilous at times - but, even then, there is seriousness involved. Pie-in-the-Sky-34x28in-1978-1 

How about this: Family first. Yes, I know... you're bristling all over now. Truth is, we try to put family first as much as possible, but the myth of family first is a pie in the sky kind of idea.

If your business suddenly experiences a major disaster - let's say your PR Director says something stupid on Twitter... do you drop everything and run home for dinner...or do you stay around and fix the problem? Maybe get on Twitter and smooth things over as best you can.

If your website gets hacked and starts displaying porn, do you leave your tech admin in charge, to go to your kid's baseball game... or do you work alongside the tech admin and others, to make sure the world knows it's a mistake... a huge mistake! Yes, we all need to have those emergencies covered (professionals in place to handle them), but in the end, it's your business. You're at the helm. You don't stop during a storm and read a book to your 4year old cause it's his bedtime. You find other ways to compensate him for not being there.

Here's one that really annoys me: "Our company is agile..." . Agile? Really? Here's what agile means: Characterized by quickness, lightness, and ease of movement; nimble.

Agile involves movement. It's not characterized by a 'thing'... or a 'mindset'... yes, you can tweak it to fit your meaning - agile companies are able to get things done faster, so they say. Agile companies are flexible - they perform well under pressure. Agile companies - are what we all aspire to be. Yes? No! I aspire to be successful and I need to be able to make quick changes, but... that makes ME agile, not my company.

I just go bananas when I see companies described as agile. I am willing to allow you to say your people are agile. Hey, you can even prove it by holding sporting events and inviting clients to them. But, your company? Not hardly. Your company is... a thought, a process, a building, a location... none of which demonstrate the term agile in any way. 

And last, for now, this popular little myth: Our people are our business! 

Excuse me? What does that mean? Of course your business relies on people, in some way. Either they work for you or they're clients (customers). The business itself...is, whatever. My business is social media. It depends a great deal on people; people I know, and people I don't. I understand the premise of "My people are my business"... it attempts to give credit where credit is due. However, few companies actually believe that myth, support that myth, or follow its tenents

Miah-dancing
Now, that's agile!
People are ... flesh, blood, and emotion. Not one of those attributes is conducive to good business. So, your people are not your company. You should believe they are, because they're more important than almost anything else in your company.

But... people are not 'thing's and your company is and will ever be, a 'thing'. A non-living, non-breathing entity, without flesh, blood, or emotion.

There's a big problem with this entire post... do you know what it is? I challenge you to leave a comment and tell me what's wrong with my thinking on myths of the business kind. 

Comments

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Yvonne DiVita

Hey Caren, people have emotions. Companies have... staff. The company doesn't care about employees - it's an inanimate object. The executive team should care, but the company? Nope. It's like a tree... it just wants to grow. I prefer phrases such as, "At our company, WE care about our employees." THAT shows thought - and that the PEOPLE are aware. Blanket statements of companies that 'care' annoy me.

Yvonne DiVita

Glenda, I love the way you think. Here's why I have a problem with a CEO giving emergency situations to others - because, in planning, that's what you'd do - have your PR Director or IT Director or whatever, handle things.

It works when the company is well on its way. The 'team' knows what to do and does it. A new, budding company needs you there...and if the emergency hits in the middle of your kid's baseball game, you have to attend to it. Else, your kid won't be playing baseball at all next year. Fact of life - if you can't keep the business running, you have no business. If you have no business, your kid has no shoes, no bed, no food.

I'm saying - you sometimes have to weigh your options and in a pinch - providing food for your family comes before reading them that bedtime story. I'm saying that SOMETIMES (not all the time), in fact, many times in your early stages of building your brand, you have to sacrifice. Hope, inspiration and motivation aren't going to pay the bills - and, guess what, your family will understand.

Now, let's add that you should get over that hurdle and be able to do both - spend quality time with your family and run your business - as you move forward. But even then, there will be times YOU have to be there because you are the ultimate voice of authority.

Glenda Pagan

I was instantly attracted to the title of your post. I can definitely agree with your points, but the argument on family first disturbed me quite a bit. I'm not sure if it's because it made me feel guilty about not spending enough time with my family or because some of the points sounded so cold. "You don't stop during a storm and read a book to your 4year old cause it's his bedtime. You find other ways to compensate him for not being there." How exactly do we compensate our children for not being there?

I always suggest to make time for the other things in life that make us happy. I know that you mentioned emergency situations that we might confront with our businesses, but I think that a huge part of being a successful entrepreneur, is to plan ahead and have either established plans or personnel in place for these situations. After all, isn't our desire for freedom one of the most important reasons why we all started this path?

I think our businesses are one of the main priorities in our lives, but to most of us, it's not the only priority. If it came down to it, I would leave my business aside for the sake of my children any day! But, that's just me...

I like reading about inspiration, about hope, about motivation and about making our dreams come true. Maybe, I'm being to much of a dreamer and maybe I try to shut my eyes to reality, but dreaming is what keeps most humans going on with more fierceness every day!

caren gittleman

To a certain extent I think emotions ARE good for a company. Who wants to be part of a company that doesn't care about its employees or others?

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