I had a call the other day with a client and there was a consultant on the call from a large consulting group and the consultant referred to the business as “look… they are just a ___ company” — I can’t give the exact details for the sake of privacy but basically this consultant reduced this large and prosperous company down to the most simplistic and unflattering form.
And as an entrepreneur who’s romantic about companies — I knew right then and there that this consultant knew very little about starting and growing a great company. They may have gone to an Ivy League and found a way to have a large Fortune 500 hire them but I assure you that if they had to build one — there isn’t a chance in hell I would bet on this person. Zero.
I grew up watching and studying companies. I’ve been around companies, entrepreneurs, and great business people for nearly 30 years. My dad helped build a company from just under $80M to over $2B and listed on the NYSE. I’ve personally built multiple multi-million dollar companies and I’ve read literally hundreds of business books and studied entrepreneurs’ stories and journeys like I was being paid to do it.
And I can tell you that every great company and entrepreneur is passionately doing something bigger than a commoditized product or service. Tiffany’s isn’t “basically a jewelry maker that sells stones” — they sell love, dreams, and luxury and they just happen to deliver it with diamonds and shiny platinum objects.
Over the years, I’ve come across these people that break companies down into the most irreducible and unflattering terms. To them, it’s simple numbers and profit and logistics but these people destroy great companies. It’s a shame they feel the need to involve themselves in business.
Our client in this case is has a fantastic culture and is one of the more passionate companies I’ve worked with. I’m also a customer of theirs. They take pride in service, their brand, their mission, and their people. They believe in their brand and mission and the actual product of what they do is simply an extension of what they’re doing. I’d argue that the reason for their success has nothing to do with their product per se and everything to do with the vision and values that support it.
So my sentiment is this; never let anyone reduce your vision and values or mission down to the barest simplistic terms. If it offends you, it should. Defend your brand and purpose. All great companies are built on something much greater than pushing a widget in the most profitable way possible.
If you find these people in your org that do this — identify it and get them out.
And then continue on with your pursuit of greatness.