I was at TEDx Tampa Bay yesterday. (It's a local franchise under the TED umbrella. Charles Armstrong of SparkLabs is Tampa Bay's Steve Jobs - wait till you see the Tour Wrist. He stated in his talk, "The limits of what's possible is bound only by the limits of our innovators' imagination."
We saw this at ITEXPO East 2010 a couple of weeks ago. There are many companies that are banging out really neat stuff. Our industry has a bunch of brilliant stars - many of whom where in the Cloud Summit.
Guy Hagen summed it up during his TEDx talk: This economic storm is riddled with opportunity for creativity and innovation.
But now that you made this cool gadget/widget/product, what do you do now?
Brent Britton, the only lawyer to graduate from MIT Media Lab, spoke about ideas2happy. Plainly stated, "Make your customers happy and you will enjoy great wealth. Happiness being the key to success." Brent's a great speaker, but this was one of his best presentations.
Boots make Brent's wife happy. Boots make Brent happy, because his wife is happy. Brent is happy when his wife is happy.
Companies that look at the Street aren't making customers happy, just stockholders - and only sometimes. They are focused on the wrong metrics. The Customer Lifetime Value and Customer Referral Value are far better metrics than number of DSL lines or some other short term number. (They don't even look at Customer Acquisition Cost for that DSL or any of the FiOS subscribers).
If you make your customers happy, you will achieve great wealth, according to Brent Britton. If you make your employees happy, they will make your customers happy.
Did you know that cows with names produce more milk? So if you don't treat your human resources as cattle, they will likely be more productive. "You can't deliver good service from unhappy employees," Tony Hsieh said. Britton quoted Hsieh, "People are happiest when they are following a Vision with a sense of purpose."
Think about that. It goes back to what Jim Collins witnessed in Built to Last about companies that had BHAG's. A Big Hairy Audacious Goal becomes a vision for the company and its employees.
Britton reminded us that human happiness is strongly influenced by things businesses do. His reflection that "the only sin in life is to increase suffering" could be seen as a call for sustainability at all levels of business.
Google is worth $170B by thinking long term and making the user experience good. Zappos isn't selling shoes, but a great customer experience. It sold to Amazon for $1.2B recently. Happy customers buy more and refer more. Their Lifetime value is higher.
Brent's wife wanted boots. On a Friday at 5 PM she still hadn't found them. They found Zappos.com. She had them on her feet by Saturday afternoon. She will never shop anywhere else for shoes. She is happy. Brent is happy. Get the point?
Diego Uribe, head of IDEMX consulting, told the TEDx audience yesterday, "We live in a universe that expands and contracts to infinity in a harmonious way." Think about how we breathe or how the heart works - expansion and contraction. However, as a culture, we are addicted to growth. It's not good. Uribe noted that a switch to Mindful Consumption would be wise. Like a full hard drive or an over-stuffed closet, in order to create space for newness you have to get rid of a few things. Expand and contract (like the economy).
My take-away from TEDx is that we need to be helping our customers get efficient, gain productivity, and even grow business.