Monday night football. Nike commercial. An old coach tells a young player: ” A man thinks he can. Another man thinks he can’t. Both are right. Which one are you?” Personal expectations. Passion for success. An insane zeal for excellence. Harry Beckwith, author of the book “What Clients Love,” writes in his July newsletter that:
It started on a visit to Microsoft. I entered Building 26 of what were then 28 on the seemingly endless Redmond campus, and felt something. I realized I had felt that before.
It had come on a visit to Nike, years before, on my first of many visits to pick up some prototype shoes which they had me test in the early 80s. Nike employees were passionate. That feeling was so intense, in fact, that when their director of marketing Rob Strasser left Nike to assume the same role at rival Adidas, most Nike employees, when they would see Rob approaching on a Portland sidewalk, would cross to the other side to avoid him.
I felt that fire in Milwaukee, too, when I entered the headquarters of Harley-Davidson.
These companies share a palpable trait: passion.
Beckwith goes on to note how Jim Collins and others have focused on the same trait:
Jim Collins has seen it, too. In Good to Great, he concluded from his diligent research that great companies focus on whatever they can do better than anyone else, on that which drives them economically — and about which they feel truly passionate.
Two other professors — a group more inclined to focus on process than feelings — noticed it, too. In their influential 1994 book Competing for the Future, Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad observed that every successful company must articulate a statement of strategic intent that “contains pathos and passion.”
So these really smart guys all believe that passion is critical. Who am I to argue?
The challenge, it seems to me, is identifying what it is that each person is passionate about and melding the items of passion into something of value to clients.
Do clients, in turn, look for passion?