The Human Side of Business
September 12, 2012 2 Comments
I’ve had the good fortune of spending time with my older relatives. One commonality I’ve noticed is that when my relatives tell stories of the past, their stories usually involve a kind person who touched their hearts and changed their worlds. Recently my 83 year old cousin spoke of a teacher he had when he was 9. This teacher took him under her wing and helped him learn the ins and outs of the English language. She also introduced him to his two favorite foods – lobster and fried chicken. My cousin kept in touch with his teacher over the years and even reached out to his teacher to invite her to his wedding. The kindness of my cousin’s teacher was never forgotten. 74 years later, the story is still being shared.
It seems kindness is not just an individual value, but a business value as well.
A few weeks ago I read a Harvard Business Review post titled, “It’s More Important to be Kind than Clever.” In the post, the author talked about how a young man went to visit his dying grandmother in the hospital. While visiting, his grandmother wished for a bowl of clam chowder from Panera Bread. Unfortunately, it was a Friday and Panera did not offer clam chowder on Fridays. Luckily, when the young man called Panera and told them about his grandmother, Panera not only made a special order of clam chowder, but also included a box of cookies.
From a marketing perspective, the story of the clam chowder became a social media success story. With no marketing outlay from Panera, word of mouth proved to be the wind in the story’s sails. How you ask?
The grandson shared his experience on Facebook. From there his mom posted it to Panera’s Facebook page. All in all, the story generated more than 800,000 “Likes” and 22,000 comments (as of 9/8/12).
For those of you who are familiar with social media, you know how easy it is for a brand to “buy” Likes. Purchasing Fans and Likes is just a matter of setting up a paid media campaign or contacting any number of media companies. But, generating organic Likes and Comments is a different matter. When a community of Fans rally around a topic, it creates human connections and (potentially) a lasting bond with the brand.
So, the moral of the story is…make human connections and practice kindness. And, it doesn’t matter if you’re an individual or if you’re a brand. It seems, to change minds you need to start with changing hearts.