Monday, 28 November 2011

Are you so absorbed in making a living that you have no time for living?

At the moment I am researching into what makes some businesses more successful than others and in the process redefining what success means.  My last post looked at how a community has been formed in North Herts based around a common interest, motherhood, and how that is now transitioning to a profit-making business.

In this post I want to talk about two very different people who have a similar approach to life and yet are achieving success in very different fields.  The first is Ted Leonsis and the second is Lynn Serafinn.  Both are American and perhaps more importantly both have strong values which drive their business.  In both cases their focus is on happiness or fulfilment rather than wealth as defined in the world’s terms and yet financial gain has been a by-product of their activity.  This is a subtle distinction but a very important one – the driving force in their businesses has not been around making money.  To explain further, let me give you the five rules that Ted lives by:

1) Active involvement in local communities – this is because as humans we are first and foremost social beings and need to connect to others.  He thinks it is vital to volunteer and support projects within our local communities because apart from anything it makes us feel better about ourselves
2) Allowing self expression – for Ted this has come out in two ways: the discipline of blogging on a daily basis and more recently filmmaking.  The latter has led to the coining of a new phrase filmanthropy to describe the power of documentary films to inspire, enlighten and serve as agents of change.  He has established to continue this work.  Another manifestation of this is found in employees and advocates....
3) Astounding levels of personal empathy – this could be likened to a reservoir of empathy to empower others.  Ted describes how he got alongside the cleaners in his current company and cleaned a stadium with them.  Although this happened some time back, they talk about it today more than President Obama’s visit to the stadium.
4) Acts of service – in his daily life Ted is constantly grateful and looking for ways to give back
5) Articulation of a higher purpose – it is not just about doing business, it is about being clear about your calling and allowing that to be transparent in the way that you do business

How does Lynn Serafinn fit into this mix?  She has been inspired to write a book called the 7 Graces of Marketing which goes into detail about what creates good marketing in essence.  She talks about how the current way businesses do marketing is making people ill and encourages us to follow the 7 graces rather than the 7 deadly sins of marketing.  She defines these as:

The Graces                          The 7 deadly sins
Connection                         disconnection
Inspiration                          persuasion
Invitation                            invasion
Directness                           Distraction
Transparency                     deception
Abundance                         scarcity
Collaboration                     competition

What really resonates with me is connection.  It is about remembering that everyone wants to be heard and to feel valued closely followed by collaboration.  When are we going to realise that we can achieve more by working with others?  Recently Lisa Pearson aka the mummy whisperer when talking about her new book explained that it had been road tested by 35 Mums.  It is her content and yet she checked out with those in her community whether her ideas worked.  I do a lot of work in the corporate environment and competition is still alive and well.  Looking at Ted’s five rules to happiness, I am reminded that most businesses fail because the owners become so absorbed in making a living that they have no time for living (Ralph Waldo Trine) and forget about the higher purpose and the big picture.

Going through Lynn and Ted’s lists, which of these concepts do you feel drawn to and what could that mean for your business or the way that you live your life?

For more details on how to buy Lynn's book go to 


  1. For me it is Point 5 - that is most important. In my book I just call it the 'Eyes on the Prize' and ask the Mums to remember it every morning. It makes a massive difference to life, because it means that you can prioritise everything you do and save your energy for what is most important. I limit it to very few, because as a Mum I don't think that we have time for 100's of goals - mine is my book being a best selling pick me up book for mums, my kids feeling loved from top to toe, and me being healthy and fit. There are other things like my relationship and making money (which I don't think is a 'bad' thing), but my priorities are clear.

    And Yes, I probably would go for Connection too, with a big dash of Abundance. When it comes to finances, it's about making sure that I give a fair service and am fairly recompensed for it - the balance between altruism and narcissism being very important in a healthy business model.

    Thanks for the mention, I really appreciate it! I can't believe my book has been in the top 10 for Parenting since it was released a couple of weeks ago - it's amazing what can happen if you are clear on what you would love to happen.

  2. it is so much a fundamental of business for me to have happiness & honesty as the foundations.
    I'm excited that there are more and more of us speaking out, changing the way the world does business!

  3. Claire and Lisa thanks for your comments it means so much to me when people comment on the blog because apart from anything else I know the post is being read. Also this whole area is at the heart of what's on my mind. It reminds me Lisa that I need to go back and read more of your wonderful book. Hope after the various plugs it is back in the top 10 now ;-) Claire I look forward to discussing this further with you on 13 December!