By Sean O’Leary
What happened to the Punk attitude?
I’m of that age where 70’s Punk was an important part of my teen years. I always loved a wide variety of music, but Punk really did it for me. It fired me up. While I was still at school, the non-conformist, deliberately shocking, disruptive and anarchic aspects of Punk were hugely attractive. Here I am now, in my mid-fifties and they still are!
Look, I’m nothing special, loads of us loved our Punk, but what happened next? Well, the thing is, I feel that most (not all) of the Punks from my era sold out. Not only did we all mostly end up working for “the man”, lots of us who started businesses became ‘the man” and for many, not in a cool sense!
A lot of people who had that Punk attitude went on to be part of the mainstream, running shockingly conformist crap businesses!
Listen, I’ve been in business for 30 years, so I love business, I’m not anti-business. I am though, anti crap businesses! What pains me about that, is that so many, now in their 50’s, who might have had that Punk attitude in their youth, lead or own crap businesses.
So, let’s get straight into it, what’s a crap business? Here are 10 pointers to help you identify a crap business. Contact me directly and I’ll give you real-life examples of each:
– The sole purpose of the business is profit!
– The business is all about the owner.
– The business, a large corporate, is run predominantly for the execs.
– The business scams its customers or clients.
– The business puts profit before people.
– The business exploits people’s weaknesses or frailties.
– The business exploits natural ecology.
– The business sells stuff no one needs.
– The business product or service makes people worse off.
– The business crushes the souls of its staff and or its owner.
It didn’t have to be that way and it doesn’t have to be that way! Collectively we could have and still can run truly outstanding businesses that feed our souls, add huge value to society and make a profit!
Punk was a reaction against crap music and we can bring that attitude to business. Reject it, disrupt it, challenge it, set the agenda and stop conforming. Bring joy to business and do great work.
Want some pointers to the type of business we can own or lead? Here are a few:
Purpose – A great business has a purpose beyond profit. The purpose is bigger than the owners or exec’s and adds real value to society as a whole. And it makes a profit! Can you achieve all that and make the world a little better? Absolutely and that’s exactly what you should aim to do!
People – People come first, full stop. Stop bleating about your CSR, your Talent Programme, Customer Retention Programme and all the other jargon/ nonsense. Just simply, put people first; your staff, your customers and anyone else that is impacted in any way by your business.
Process – Keep it simple. Seriously, our love of technology (and I love technology) can make us over complicate matters. Ever been caught in an automated telephone cycle? Been on a website with no physical address or telephone number? Followed an endless sequence of hyper-links that go nowhere? Feels terrible doesn’t it? Think of what it is like to be a customer / user and make your processes as simple as possible.
Profit – You have to make a profit, otherwise you have a hobby not a business. Profit, however, is an outcome, a measure. Get the first three right and profit flows, it’s inevitable. A great purpose, people aligned to your purpose, providing great service to your customers, with simple and efficient processes and profit flows!
Posterity – Great businesses create and leave a legacy. They impact the world in a positive way and make the world a better place. As owners and leaders, we want to create and leave a positive business, financial and personal legacy, as stewards of the businesses we create.
Again, if you want direct examples of companies doing this well now, drop me a direct message.
So, to all you aging Punks and also you younger, aspiring Punks it’s time to reconnect with that Punk spirit.
Sean O’Leary is founder and Chief Wonderer of Fit to Lead, a movement that teaches people how to be their best in life and business.