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1 The Cynics Guide to The Commitment Engine

I have a new book coming October 11th called The Commitment Engine – Making Work Worth It.

I know, I know, I’ve talked a lot about it lately, but bear with me. The book is a more personal look at some of the important elements of building a business that serves your life and there’s a decidedly more “touchy-feely” nature.

So, as one might expect, there are few folks that are surprised that I am sharing my thoughts along these lines.

Today I thought it would be fun to conduct a self interview of sorts with questions compiled from some of what I would call my more cynical readers. No, I’m not talking about you, but maybe you know one.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the interview.

1) Why did you write a book about commitment and how does it relate to marketing?

A:I think the main thing I started out to do with this topic was to redefine the concept of commitment with regard to business. I’ve seen seemingly successful business owners who felt like their “commitment” to their business was sucking the life out of them. I wanted to frame commitment in terms of commitment to a higher purpose the business services. The marketing connection flows from the fact that when businesses promote why they do what they do, the natural outcome is a committed customer.

2) Where does the bottom line of business intersect with ideas like passion and purpose?

A: So often people try to find the bottom line in ideas that don’t seem very “business like” and that’s really a significant theme of this book. Art, passion, purpose, inspiration all produce incredibly practical outcomes when applied with clear intent. For me what that idea illustrates is the notion of extreme clarity – those one or two moments in life when you knew. The most important concept of this book is that of clarity – personal, professional, brand and purpose.

3) I’m in a very competitive marketplace, how will the principles of this book help me?

A: The principles I use to illustrate how to build a Commitment Engine – hunger for extreme clarity, culture of shared commitment and a ridiculous passion for community – are powerful tools in the right hands.

4) The book includes some touchy-feely ideas such as the idea of learning to be “present,” taking time for self-reflection and creating a “passion mantra.” Aren’t you concerned that these ideas might alienate some readers?

A: No, I am not worried that my point of view might turn a few people off, that’s actually my intent and it’s a central idea of the book. Authenticity is a very attractive quality in business and the only way to keep it and communicate it is to present a clear and consistent point of view and stick to it, knowing that there will be many for whom this point of view resonates.

5) What exactly is a passion mantra? And why should someone do it?

A: The idea of a passion mantra is a little like a core message might be in marketing, but it’s your internal life message. When you create a phrase or concept that you can return to daily it can snap you back a bit and remind you why you do what you do, particularly when you find yourself in the midst of chaos.

6) You devote an entire chapter to the idea of treating your “Staff as Customer.” Does it still make sense for businesses to invest like this in their employees?

A: The concept is not only possible it’s more important than ever. Your staff is treating your customers exactly as you are treating them. So, does it make sense for a business to invest in employees, well, I guess only if it makes sense to have customers. Where so many businesses get tripped up with the concept of investing in culture is that they think that means buying an espresso machine. The best investment a business owner can make in culture is to understand and communicate the higher purpose or “why” the business exists and find ways to amplify that in every action that impacts the staff.

7) There’s also a section called, “Staff as Owner,” which advocates for creating a culture of shared ownership. Surely you’re not suggesting that every business, even those with seasonal employees, adopt this?

Part of this has to do with mindset as well as physical ownership. Any business, particularly those that hire seasonal help, competes for the best people available and attracting people based on a higher purpose ensures you’ll attract a greater of number of people that fit.

8) The first section of the book implores owners to engage in some serious soul-searching about their level of passion and purpose they bring to their business. Is this a necessary step, before you can expect others (namely employees) to follow suit?

A: Actually I believe it’s a necessary step if you ever hope to establish a guiding vision for your business, strategy that allows your business to stand out and differentiate and focus on the priorities that will keep you on track. It’s pretty tough to give something to someone else until you possess it yourself.

9) Has all this social sharing that people do now days changed the language of business?

A: I think it’s changed a few things. Yes, I think the way we talk about business, the way we share and perhaps what we share has changed dramatically. For years I’ve been advocating the use of personal stories in marketing and widespread social media usage has certainly helped break down resistance to this notion as a leadership style.

10) You say there’s a big difference between the term “plans” and “planning”. I have a business plan explain why they’re so different?

A: So many people approach planning as though the end document is the goal. To me it’s the process of figuring out what not to do or what to leave out of the plan that is the greatest outcome of the planning process. That’s why I also believe that it’s essential to keep your plan alive through continual revisiting and pruning.

11) The book includes a section called the Committed Handbook. Does this document serve a similar function as a social media policy for employees?

A: I look at it a something more essential than what typically rests as a section of an employee handbook. This is clarity training and includes why we do what we do, core beliefs, marketing proposition, key stories and even updates on numbers and current state of the business.

12) What three ideas from the book would you want a reader to consider and contemplate?

1. Clarity is strategy
2. Culture is clarity amplified
3. Community is a natural outcome of clarity

If you enjoyed this interview you might want to hop on over and download a free chapter of The Commitment Engine – Making Work Worth It.