July 3, 2011

The Business of Business is People

The VietnamWorks North Sales team achieved their goal in one particularly rough quarter. To show appreciation, we arranged for a surprise visit from a Vietnamese pop music heartthrob. He sang a few love ballads and posed for pics. They loved it!

“The business of business is people.”

– Herb Kelleher, Founder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines (one of my heroes)

Ask different people what business is “about” and you will get different answers.  They’ll say “Profit” or “Getting rich”  or “Creating a product.”  It’s none of those things.

At the end of the day, the business of business is people.

Think about it.

In our VietnamWorks and Navigos Search businesses, the website doesn’t create itself.  Customers don’t appear magically on our doorstep with bags of money.  The accounting doesn’t happen because we have accounting software.  The budget or candidates aren’t simply willed into existence.  People make all these things happen.

The Oracle of Herb tells it this way: “Take care of your people.  Happy people will make your customers happy.  When your customers are happy, your shareholders will be happy.”

The ways to take care of your people are limited only by your imagination.  Every leader’s job is to work hard to create a fun, warm, hospitable and service-oriented environment in your company.

Ugh, “company.”  I don’t even like that word.

To me, there is no “company.”  The “company” is just an abstract legal concept.  It’s not real.  It’s a piece of paper filed in some government office.

People *are* real.  People make things happen.  Your people will make you and your business a success or failure.  Get to know them.  Understand them.  Know their aspirations, their hopes and dreams and talents and challenges.  Their humanity.

Then, love them.

You heard right.  I said “love.”  In business.

Click below for more from the Oracle of Herb.

  • Nga Nguyen

    One thing I’ve learnt recently is that you’ve got to care for *your staff* (maybe you like the word ‘people’ more) GENUINELY… And nothing wrong for you to expect them to care for *you* back ;-)

    I can see You in this new post, Chris.

    • Chris

      Yes Nga, absolutely.

      People can *feel* if you really care, or if you’re cynically taking action only to get something in return. The best leaders genuinely care for their people and want the best for them. You just can’t fake that.

      And yes, the care you send out does come back to you. It’s a virtuous cycle.

  • Pingback: There Is No Company - Chris Forrest Harvey()

  • Pingback: Business Books You Should Read - Chris Forrest Harvey()