Long haul flights provide the opportunity for thinking time, sometimes even more than anticipated – thanks to BA for a cancelled flight. I am on my way to New York to attend the Second Global Conference on Creating Value and give a talk about how values add value. The talk is in the context of what I refer to as the Values Economy: how more people are making decisions based less on a rational and financial basis and more at a deeper, emotional level – think of the growth of Fair Trade. The title of the book I am writing due for publication in 2020 is “The Values Economy: How to deliver values-driven service for sustained performance.”
It will be an informative couple of days, and the most exciting thing about this conference for me is that Professor Philip Kotler is also on the programme. Why is this so exciting? Because it was Philip Kotler’s recommended text book at university (in the last century!) that inspired my interest in the topic of marketing. This original interest has been maintained and grown over the years and the concept of “brand identity” is a core element of the SERVICEBRAND approach I have developed and now use to support progressive organisations in delivering values-driven service for sustained performance.
The question I found myself asking is “How have I ended up speaking at a conference alongside probably the most respected man in the field of marketing (think GOAT)?” Well, it started several years ago when Gautam Maharajan, the founder of Value Creation Journal became a connection. Gautam was very supportive of the relationship between values and value creation and helped publish my article The Value of Values: The Amplified Role of Authenticity in an Increasingly Transparent World . Gautam then organised the first Global Conference on Creating Value in UK in 2018 but, unfortunately, I had other commitments so could not attend. A year later, we were able to make it work and the flights were booked last November. It was some months later that I discovered that Professor Kotler was on the same programme and realised what a beautiful closing of a circle this was. For those of you who are interested in synchronicity and serendipity, this is a very good example because there was no causal relationship between various events which have turned out to be meaningfully related (see www.carl-jung.net/synchronicity.html for an introduction to the concept). Also, think about how any number of different events might have resulted in a lesser outcome eg Gautam and I losing touch, the conference clashing with other commitments, Gautam not having a connection with Professor Kotler etc.
This example of synchronicity is not a one off. Here are two more connected with the first co-authored book The 31 Practices: how to release the power of organisation’s values…. every day . Co-author Alison Whybrow and I dedicated our book to “the alchemy of relationships, curiosity and serendipity”.
The first story is quite different to the one above because, in this case, there was a known desired outcome and the synchronicity was consciously strived for. Horst Schulze, co-founder of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. and Capella Hotels and Resorts had created and implemented the Daily Basics programme for Ritz Carlton and this was the inspiration for me to create the (now award-winning) 31Practices approach. It was obvious that his endorsement of the book would be amazing but how to make this happen with no personal connection? LinkedIn came to the rescue. I found Chris Reed, (now leading Sales and Marketing for the exciting Equiniox hotels concept) who had worked at Capella so connected with him and explained why I wanted to connect with Horst Schulze. Fortunately, Chris was helpful, knew Mr Schulze’s executive assistant, Kathy Wiggins, and introduced me. Similarly, Kathy was very kind in finding the right moment to give Mr Schulze a copy of the manuscript I had sent. Finally, Mr Schulze enjoyed the read and the result was this endorsement which we were delighted to feature on the back cover of the book
“ The 31Practices approach is simple, clear, at times daring and unconventional to the traditional thinker of today. But this will be the norm and essential in the future. Good job…I really enjoyed it.” Horst Schulze, Chairman/CEO, Capella Hotel Group and ex-President /COO of Ritz-Carlton
The starting point for the final story was a Sunday afternoon when I was thinking about how to make the 31Practices book “special” by including some great photography which reinforced what we were writing about. This time, my accomplice was Google: “happiness….psychology….habit”, “practice….habit….psychology”. Suddenly, there he was, the amazing Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk, photographer, translator for the French government for the Dalai Lama and, according to some, the happiest person on the planet. I made contact through his Foundation, Karuna Shechen to enquire whether we could use his photographs for the book cover and to introduce each chapter. The email exchange was quite bizarre and this is a synopsis:
“Would Matthieu Ricard be interested in collaborating on our book about values by allowing us to use his photography?”
“Yes, he would. Would you be willing to make a financial contribution to the Foundation?”
“In principle, yes, if it is affordable.”
“How much would you like to give?”
“We don’t know we’ve never done this before”
“Perhaps ask your publisher”
“OK, we have asked. They have suggested”
“Thankyou. What do you need?”
And this is how Matthieu Ricard’s photography came to be featured in our book. We had great fun choosing particular photographs to support each chapter in a meaningful way.
Now, fast forward about nine months to the summer as we were making plans for the book launch in a couple of months’ time on 22 October 2013. An email arrived explaining that Matthieu was visiting Europe in October and might be able to meet us if this was of interest. Where in Europe? Paris and available to meet on 21 October……. Alison and I took the Eurostar, met Matthieu in a beautiful garden in the suburbs of Paris and took a video of him which we were than able to play to our guests at the book launch event the following evening. Synchronicity. I continue to support Karuna Shechen with a contribution from the fees received from all 31Practices projects.
You can see from the three stories above that sometimes it is possible to give a strong helping hand to synchronicity and that on other occasions it is impossible for anybody to have foreseen the unfolding of events or to be able to have had any influence. I know which type I prefer. I wonder if Professor Kotler would be interested to read the manuscript for my The Values Economy book…..