How do you open a conference on change? That was the job that Food & Drink Business Live gave to Richard Sauerman, The Brand Guy, at its Industry of the Future Forum this week. Food & Drink Business is PKN’s stablemate, so we were there.
How did he do it? With a truism. “Some things never change.”
Those things, he said, are people. People don't change. We still want the same things we always have and we still see change as a dark force. We don't like it much – it's unsettling, unnerving.
Yet it's nothing to be afraid of. We all accommodate change. And to prove it, Sauerman produced a guide for family life from the 50s. Its rules included “Have dinner ready,” “Don't complain if he's home late or even if he stays out all night,” “Speak in a low and soothing voice,” and “Provide him with immense personal satisfaction.”
To restate the obvious, we all accommodate change.
Right now, we are all having to accommodate change very quickly. Technology is accelerating the rate of change in the world – the change in everything in the world – at breakneck speeds, because it is giving us access to volumes of information unheard of fifty, twenty or even two years ago. In 1985, a microchip could hold 1,000,000 bits of information. In 2030, it will hold 16,000,000,000,000. What will life look like then? Simply put, we don't know.
Lives are complicated, swamped with choice, busy and stressful. Life today is like a small boat on a big ocean. No one knows exactly what will happen next. So where's the keel? What keeps life balanced and centred?
People. People never change.
And why is this relevant? Because you can substitute “business” for “life”. Business is changing at an extraordinary pace. It's like a boat on an ocean. There may be a storm to face tomorrow. Or a headwind. But what keeps it balanced and centred are people. People never change.
And this is where The Brand Guy's message about navigating change gets serious. Business will navigate change successfully if it thinks and acts like person who's a peak performer. The attributes of a peak performer never changes. A peak performer doesn't aim to be middling. He rates himself as a 9. (Rate yourself as a 10 and you're arrogant and probably a little bit blind.)
A peak performing brand:
- Aims to be the best. “Draw a line in the sand and stand above it.”
- Stands for something.
- Does things differently. “If you win the rat race, you are still a rat.”
- Discusses itself. “Know who you are and communicate it.”
- Invests fully in its customers' need to be taken seriously and be esteemed. “Treat your customers like people, not walking bags of money.”
The secret for business success in a world that keeps changing? That has not changed and never will. It's this: “Do epic shit.”
Watch The Brand Guy at Yaffa's Adnews event: