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February 4th, 2009, 10:00pm Print this article

Road Signs For Success

By Gerald Daniels

The old adage “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” is one we should take to heart as the country goes into overhaul mode on the economy. We are all trying to look into the New Year with a sense of hope, while still yet realizing the urgent situation many Americans are facing. The catch words to “learn from history” ought to be a call to arms for the ranks of business men and women across the country. I know it has been for me. Launching a new business, while the nightly news, the newspapers, and most of my neighbors continue to point out a financial gloom and doom report that has reached around the world could have been very discouraging. We choose to focus our attention on the good report that economic downturns are historically excellent times to prepare for economic upturns. To do that we’re implementing the business model I’ve learned from reading Jim Whitt’s book, Riding for the Brand: The Power of Purposeful Leadership.

Riding for the Brand is a story that weaves a lesson or two from history with some savvy present day and futuristic business practices. The book’s main character is Burns Marcus, the un-conventional CEO of Diamond Enterprises. A reporter, Bob Fooshee, is assigned to get a story on how Marcus turned Diamond Enterprises into the model organization of the 21st century. While reviewing the essential points in Riding for the Brand business model for my company, I learned the two basic reasons why many once successful businesses have failed. Their reluctance to change the way they do business and, for the most part, only dealing with employment issues when forced to do so. Whitt explains how the personality driven and crisis driven organizations are largely motivated only in times of a crisis or when the founder is at the helm. But after the crisis subsides, or the founder has departed, then motivation diminishes to the point of the minimal amount required to maintain basic productivity. Burns Marcus explains to the young reporter how he found success by building his business be developing a purpose-driven organizational model. The purpose-driven organization is about “giving ourselves to something that’s bigger than we are, as individuals.” Applying the purpose-driven business model found in Riding for the Brand is not easy, but it is certainly worth the effort when a company’s motivation is transformed from a crisis or personality-driven culture to one that is purpose-driven. The transformation results in an extraordinary business that not only meets the expectations of clients, customers, and employees, but exceeds their expectations.

Many businesses are shifting and grinding through these difficult times. Applying Riding for the Brand’s business model doesn’t make the shifting, grinding, or difficult times go away. What the model does offer is an in-depth outline on four foundational points that we have found make all the difference for our business, our employees, and our clients. In the book, Burns Marcus gives the young reporter a thumb-nail sketch of this business philosophy: “Financial success, or profit, is the byproduct of purpose, partnering, and pioneering — it all begins with Purpose. You have to Partner with people if you want to accomplish anything of greatness. You have to foster a Pioneer spirit to successfully adapt and change. Profit is the fuel that feeds an organization. It enables us to continue fulfilling our purpose.” Purpose, Partnering, Pioneering, and Profit — four simple points when engaged in a new or existing business that will literally revolutionize the way a company is run. 

Getting involved in the process of finding the purpose for your life and for your business is the first step to change. If we truly believe  that history is a teacher, and time is a one-way street, that only moves forward, shouldn’t we be moving forward in our business philosophies as well?

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