It was the most interesting three-minute conversation I’ve had in years. It was also a stark reminder of an important lesson I’ve learned as a marketer and a business owner: where a company’s focus is now versus where it should be.
Our family recently took a much-needed vacation in Palm Springs. A frequent stop was a coffee shop called Koffi. One day, a guy rolls up with a sweet Mercedes SLR McLaren, complete with wing doors and super-charged everything.
I was coming out the front doors at the same time as he was getting out of his car. Trying hard not to be one of those guys who ogle (and likely failing miserably), I still was so impressed with the vehicle, I couldn’t help commenting. “Great car,” I said. “You don’t see a lot of those on the streets”.
“Yeah, it’s worth about $550,000,” he replied. “I own a hangar by the airport with about 30 cars in it. Most of them are worth $250,000 to $750,000 and are appreciating. I live on Bob Hope Drive in the big glass house. You’ve probably seen it.” Then: “I have to go, my assistant is here.”
And, after all that, he walked away.
I was stunned. I honestly wasn’t expecting a real conversation with him but, after I’d had some time to think, what I realized is that he enjoyed it and probably felt it was a great exchange. What became clear to me was that his identity was fixed on what he owned, the business he was building, the mini personal empire he was constructing and the small self-esteem boost he received when latte-sipping strangers complimented him on his assets and perceived accomplishments.
It reminded me of the lesson Jesus gave to his disciples: wherever your money is, there your thoughts and heart will also be.
What do you want your employees to be focused on? Where do you want your business to focus? The right answer is – and always will be – your customers. You exist to serve and add meaningful value to people and organizations.
No one intends to allow their mission, money or revenue targets to get in the way of providing impact and delivering value to customers. It’s an erosion that happens slowly, over time, and eventually, you become used to seeing the numbers of the people. Or your business becomes a success at the expense of your health and/or relationships with family and friends.
As a leader, you need to keep yourself and everyone else around you focused on the right things. Having a car worth $550,000 is certainly one goal to strive for but goals that revolve around people and purpose are far more meaningful and last much longer than a sleek metal car with wing doors ever will.