“Why are you here? You are here to make people’s lives better. That’s why we are doing what we do in business.”
~ Bruce Dickinson
Do you want to have a great business that has real value and can weather a storm? One that is successful and sustainable in the long-term?
If you do, you’ve got to focus on your relationships with your customers. Or, as Iron Maiden front man Bruce Dickinson advises: We have to turn our customers into fans.
Close your eyes for a moment and think of something or someone you consider yourself to be a fan of. It could be a band, an artist, a sports team or even a business. Notice the feelings that come up when you think about this individual or group of people.
According to philosopher Charles Eisenstein, these powerful feelings are the result of something that goes far beyond a mere financial transaction:
“Even if you hire a band to play in your home, there is no guarantee, no matter how much you pay, that they will really sing to you and not just pretend to. If your mother sung you lullabies, or if you have ever been serenaded by a lover, you know what I am talking about and how deep a need it fills. Sometimes it even happens at a concert, when the band isn’t just putting on an act but is actually playing for that audience, or really, to that audience.
Each such performance is unique, and its special, magical quality vanishes in recording. “You had to be there.” True, we may pay money to attend such an event, but we receive more than we paid for when the band is truly playing to us. We do not feel that the transaction is complete and closed, that all obligations are canceled out, as in a pure money transaction. We feel a lingering connection, because a giving has transpired.
No life can be rich without such experiences, which might ride the vehicle of money transactions, but which no amount of money can guarantee.”
~ Charles Eisenstein
This is a perfect description of my experience of becoming a fan for the first time when I attended an Iron Maiden concert. I was overwhelmed by the intense feelings of affection and gratitude I felt for those six human beings who shared their hearts through their music, which resonated so powerfully with my own heart.
What took place was the communication of basic goodness, which in Shambhala lingo is referred to as Drala. This exchange is the creation of enlightened society.
What if the customers of our business or the company we work for could feel that way about our product or service?
“The economy can either be seen as the most powerful and visceral display of human selfishness, or as the manifest dynamic potential of human connectivity and community.”
~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
According to Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, relationships are the very essence of society. As human beings, we need to and long to connect with others—it’s an expression of our basic goodness.
“The teaching on enlightened society within Shambhala is that society itself is the natural arising of the energy, communication, and kindness of basic goodness. Therefore, we do not have to fabricate an enlightened society. … Society is the relationship between people.
Human beings always depend on each other and need to communicate with each other. This is the simplicity of the transmission of enlightened society. Basic goodness has an inherent wakeful energy that continuously wants to communicate.”
~ Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
By recognizing and honoring our own and each other’s basic goodness, we create enlightened society through our relationships.
“Contrary to the assumptions of economics, biology, political philosophy, psychology, and institutional religion, we are not in essence separate beings having relationships. We are relationship.”
~ Charles Eisenstein
The essence of business is the human relationship.
We are all, in one way or another, engaged in business. We may own a company, work for a company and at the very least, we are all customers.
We can create enlightened society through our business relationships.
We can create relationships with our customers that are characterized by integrity and respect. In this way we can turn our customers into fans:
So what does a rock star know about business?
In addition to being the lead singer of Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson has been a successful entrepreneur for most of his life. His business experience ranges from retail, to the music industry, to commercial airlines, and he is the founder and CEO of Cardiff Aviation.
Bruce Dickinson explains in this video that when we take care of our relationships with customers, livelihood takes care of itself. When we listen to what our customer really needs and can fulfill that need with integrity, we build lasting relationships that are characterized by mutual trust, loyalty and affection.
Dickinson notes that when customers are fans, even if we occasionally make a mistake or mess up, they will stick with us anyway. However, if we do not respect our relationship and start treating our customers badly, they will go somewhere else. Dickinson goes so far as to say: “When you do not turn your customers into fans, your business will slowly bleed to death.”
But when our relationships with customers thrive, our business will likely thrive as well:
“If you have fans, if you have customers who are so loyal to you that they will stick with you no matter what, then you have something of real value. And the whole thing about developing business is about developing real value—something real. … It’s about the relationship, it’s about trust.”
~ Bruce Dickinson
Nurturing relationships requires that we recognize and respect each other’s full humanity and dignity—our basic goodness. If we recognize our customers’ human dignity, we can no longer see them as mere “consumers” who have to be manipulated, because that undermines the integrity of our relationship.
Maybe this is why B-Corporations are more successful, stable, and able to endure economic downturns than businesses that operate solely with the purpose of maximizing short-term profits and shareholder value.
Companies that work for a greater purpose, nurture their relationships, and focus on maximizing benefit for all their stakeholders do better because they have a happier, more engaged, more motivated workforce.
When such a company offers a product or service to a customer, it becomes more than a fulfillment of a financial transaction. The transaction is simultaneously a fulfillment of their purpose, which is an offering and expression of their basic goodness.
It is the creation of enlightened society.
That’s how we turn our customers into fans.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman