The day after Labour Day, I took Mandy for a walk in the morning. It was the first day of the school year and Moms and Dads and kids in the neighbourhood were all walking together for the big first day. New outfits and backpacks and excitement for the new school year.
I passed a house where Mom and Dad were taking a picture of their daughter on the front porch. She was wearing a school uniform and had a smile from ear to ear. Her backpack was on, she was ready. She hugged her parents’ goodbye and headed off down the street to catch the school bus. Her first time walking alone? Maybe. I could almost see the tears in her parents’ eyes.
In that moment there were so many emotions:
- Hopes and dreams
- Opportunities and possibilities
- Nervousness and anxiety
- But mostly, anticipation for the future
It’s why, every year at this time, I feel like it’s a new year. For us at Eaglecom as well.
- Where will we go?
- What will we do?
- We have new team members
- New client goals
- New roles and responsibilities
- New challenges
- And new opportunities
As we embark on another new Eaglecom year I want to bring forward three words, three ideas for us to consider.
The first is Trust.
I decided recently that I’m really a Socialist. I think most of you are too. If you research Socialism, you get a lot of different explanations and definitions. It’s a word that, over time, has taken on many meanings. And it often gets misused. The word Socialism often conjures up words like Marxism, Stalinism and countries like the former Soviet Union. But that is not Socialism really, that’s Statism. And it is very different from the meaning of Socialism.
Sociologists agree, and research shows, that the health of a society is not determined by maximum individual freedom and choice combined with minimum government, but rather by the quality of its relationships, by cooperation, by dependence and by trust.
Socialism is not against free enterprise, profit incentive, working hard, getting ahead, or even consumption, it is about working together for the good of all people in that society.
Trust is habitual reciprocity coated by emotion.
Let me repeat that. Trust is habitual reciprocity coated by emotion.
- It starts with back and forth communication
- Which leads to relying on one another
- Which leads to dependence on one another
- Which leads to sacrificing for one another
What started with communication, becomes sacrifice. That’s the emotional part of it.
In the corporate world, it is now proven that companies whose staff members trust each other:
- Get more accomplished
- Make more money
The second word for this Eaglecom year is Focus.
You’ve heard me talk before about being a hedgehog. It’s a concept I believe in very much.
In 1953 Isaiah Berlin, Russian poet, author, philosopher, wrote an essay called the Fox and the Hedgehog. It was based on an old Greek parable.
The story goes like this:
The fox has many talents – he is fast, sleek, cunning, smart, energetic, full of ideas, flashy and popular. The hedgehog, on the other hand, is quiet, slow, methodical, unassuming, calm, slow, focused.
Each day the fox decides this is the day he’s going to get that old hedgehog. So he comes up with an new plan. He runs around in various directions, he schemes and plans new ways and eventually jumps right into the path of the hedgehog ready to attack. The hedgehog looks up and says, “here we go again” and rolls up into a perfect little ball of spikes and patiently waits. Eventually the fox gets impatient and runs off devising a new plan for another day. The hedgehog then unrolls himself and goes about his business.
Isaiah Berlin says that this parable describes people. Are you a fox or a hedgehog?
Jim Collins, in his best selling business book, Good To Great, says that this parable not only describes people, but companies too. After studying thousands of companies worldwide, Collins and his researchers defined several characteristics common to great companies. One of which was that great companies are almost always hedgehogs. Really, really good at one thing. Think of Apple, Google, Amazon, Coca Cola. Think of Eaglecom.
Collins says that successful companies find the intersection of three questions:
- What are you the best in the world at doing?
- What are you passionate about?
- Where is there a need?
When you answer those questions, do that thing. Do it really well. Focus on it. Become the best at it. And don’t get distracted.
Eaglecom is the best DRTV fundraising agency in the world. We are passionate about what we do and who we serve. And there is great need. And each of us here is also a hedgehog aren’t we? Doing specific jobs, taking on unique roles and responsibilities, becoming the best at what we do for the company and our clients.
Most people believe that Mozart was a genius musician. And he was. But what gets lost in Mozart’s story is that he actually spent thousands of hours in his youth practicing the piano until he became an expert. While other kids were out playing with friends, Mozart was learning music.
Genius is not born, it is built.
The third word for this Eaglecom year is Simplicity.
A study of corporate leaders found that there isn’t one specific unique trait that defines leaders. Rather, they found that leaders of successful companies have the following:
- Attention to detail
- Analytical ability
- Dedication to working long hours
But, if there was one thing that consistently stuck out amongst leaders, it was there ability for simplification. That is, they took complex situations and problems and cut to the core of the issue and provided simple, clear solutions.
Today’s technology has allowed to get very complex and detailed and to pursue what is commonly known as obscure rabbit holes.
Leaders and successful companies figure out how to analyze situations, synthesize data, define the big picture and come up with effective, actionable solutions.
That is our challenge as a company for our clients this year.
So what do we have?
- Trust – that is how we work together as a team
- Focus – that is how we work
- Simplicity – that is how we communicate
I will end with this story:
One day a man realized he was losing his memory. So he went to his doctor and said “doctor, I’m concerned I’m losing my memory”. The doctor examined him and said to him “I’m afraid I have bad news, you are losing your memory”. He went on to say “I can help you with that but it will impair your vision. So you have to decide, do you want to be able to see or remember”. The man thought for a moment and said “I choose my eyesight, I’d rather see where I’m going, than remember where I’ve been”.
Me too. I look forward to moving forward this year. Together.