The Return of the Golden Rule

You can let out a big sigh of relief. I’m about to release some tension:

The kind of behavior you strive to exhibit in your personal life turns out to be more effective in business too.

I know, a lot of us don’t feel like this is true, but it is! Now more than ever.

See if you can relate

In his social and family life, Joe is a pretty good person.

He respects your privacy. He’s open and real. He’s there for you when you need it. He often does and says nice things without stopping to consider whether he’ll get something in return.

Then Joe logs in to work.

He feels he’s bugging people all day with emails and calls. He might say things he doesn’t fully believe in. And he’ll focus only on tasks that he knows he’ll get a return on.

At work, Joe treats people (and himself) differently.

And the tension between his work self and his real self is growing.

The epiphany

There are a lot of us in Joe’s shoes, especially in sales and marketing roles with monthly numbers to hit.

The good news is that more and more of us are seeing the problem. We are re-discovering in our work life one of the oldest social rules: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Golden Rule.

In fact, this is part of what’s driving The Great Resignation, a wave of workers walking away and changing jobs. Many of us want more.

Not primarily more money and better titles - in fact, many are opting for less - but more authenticity. We want to feel like our work life and our personal life aren’t in conflict. We want to treat people better.

The shift

This is not a knock on sales and marketing.

There is nothing inherently bad about connecting your solutions to the problems of others. This is what good sales and marketing teams do best.

But so many of the dominant tactics and frameworks are tired, overused, and increasingly annoying to potential customers.

Prospects still want solutions, but they want solutions from trusted individuals and communities. They want solutions that work well with others. They don’t want to be a part of 50 different sales funnels, they want to be a part of one ecosystem.

The process of product discovery and delivery has shifted.

For the Joe’s of the world, this shift is a great opportunity. It means the tactics that make him feel a little icky at work can be left behind for something more in line with his genuine nature.

It means he can treat customers and prospects how he wants to be treated.

The paradox

I wrote in my last column about the First Giver Advantage; the fact that all good, reciprocal relationships start with unilateral value-creation from one side.

It’s not just about seeking fulfillment in the workplace. Pivoting away from the old-school business mindset is the way to win in an interconnected industry that will prioritize partnerships to acquire and keep customers.

In other words, the kind of behavior you strive to exhibit in your personal life turns out to be more effective in business too.

Look at your own life

Consider the companies you love and happily continue to do business with. . What do they have in common?

They effectively solve a pain point for you. But to really generate loyalty and excitement, they have to do more than that.

They provide moments of delight. They do things you didn’t expect. They care about you, and in turn make you feel like the least you can do is buy, share, and say thanks.

Consider the partners you love to work with. What do they have in common?

Consider any good relationships. What does the other party do that makes you enjoy the relationship? What they don’t do is behave like stingy, quid pro quo scorekeepers, that’s for sure.

Partnerships are really just good relationships. You build them in just the same way. A mindset and commitment to creating value is what leads to compounding, ongoing mutual value-creation.

The move to partnerships

This is why I love working in partnerships, and working with partner leaders.

Recognition of the fact that customers live in ecosystems, not funnels, and an understanding of the Golden Rule demands partner-centric approaches to growth.

How can we work with those our customers and prospects already trust?
How can we work together, instead of in silos?
How can we create value for others first?

These questions are replacing the old mindset, “How can I get stuff from people who don’t want to give it to me?”, which is rife with friction.

The result is not only better business outcomes, but happier, more connected people.

One small step

If you’re feeling any of the icky-ness we explored with our hypothetical Joe, now’s the perfect time to try to change things up!

Today, try doing one thing to create value for someone in your network in a way not required of you, no questions asked. It doesn’t have to be crazy, consume all your time, or jeopardize your job. Start small.

Do this every day and you’ll create a compounding reciprocal web of ROI that can’t be stopped.

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