Two sentences defines Apple's purpose

"We love to make great products which enrich people's lives" Apple's CEO Tim Cook at the launch of the Apple Watch on 9 September 2014.

"We believe this product will redefine what people expect from the category"

Love or hate Apple, one thing is clear.  They are clear on Purpose.



Customers don’t care about your goals.

So - why are you in business?

To make money right?

Sure you need Sales to exceed your expenses.  Everyone gets that.

Most people would also say you need goals.  I accept that too.

But here’s the problem.

Your customers don’t care about your goals.  And they couldn’t care less about your profits.

Customer Tug-of-War

You’re in a tug-of-war with customers.  They want you to make “less” profit by dropping your price.  You want the opposite.  You both dig in.

Go on, admit it.  Customers can really suck sometimes.  Everyone seems to be taking a bite out of you.

How do you reconcile this problem?

Some businesses try to ‘satisfy’ their customers - every customer.

You shouldn't sell customers anything and everything.  You only sell what your company was created to do. It’s called  authenticity, and customers love it.

If you’re a high end fashion brand and your customers come in asking for cheaper alternatives, will you go down the line to ‘satisfy’ them?  Or will you be authentic and stick with what you do? 

The starting point is knowing what your company was created to do, it’s purpose.

Ask yourself one question: “Why does my business exist?"

It’s a tough question because you can only define purpose in terms of how the outside world views your business.

It’s about one thing

It becomes a question of value.

You need to know what your business brings to the world, it’s value to the world.  It's not about what you ‘offer' the world.

When you think about the offer, you are thinking about yourself.

This is the tough part. You need to see value from the customer’s perspective, but start from what you want to do in the world.  

Poor Yahoo

Let’s look at Google and Yahoo as an example.

Yahoo started life as a search engine, even before Google.  And yet Google’s share price is now $597.78 and Yahoo at $39.59 at Sept 7, 2014.  Google is 15 times more valuable.

Let’s look at how they defined themselves 10 years ago.

Google in 2004 ~ We maintain the world’s largest online index of web sites and other content, and we make this information freely available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Yahoo in 2004 ~ is a leading provider of comprehensive Internet products and services to consumers and businesses through our worldwide network of online properties.

Google was focused on what it was; a search engine.  It maintains that focus.  

Yahoo wanted to be “leading” but didn’t lead.  They focused on what they offered.  Yahoo offered products and services. 

Big deal, so does everyone.  

Yahoo was looking for ways to make money and lost sight of why it was there in the first place.

Source: NASDAQ

You don’t have to be a financial whiz to know Google is doing better.

Your customers are selfish

Back to your customers.  

They only care about what you can do for them, not your goals.

They don’t even care about your Purpose.  They only care about their value.

You don’t define Purpose for customers.  Purpose is yours.  It’s your single point of clarity.  Home base.

Part of the problem is that all the fancy management words are confusing and seem too blend together.

Now, you might be thinking that purpose, mission, vision, goals, strategy and tactics are different words saying the same thing. 

They're not the same.  Purpose is often forgotten because it’s mixed up with Mission, Vision and Goals. You need to be clear on the difference.



VISION:  Outcome

GOALS: Specific targets

STRATEGY: Your choices

TACTICS: To-do list

And it all starts with Purpose. 

Next up, we’ll look at the 6 things that define a valid Purpose.

But for now.  Start thinking about your Purpose.

End note

Yahoo in 2014 changed dramatically ~ is a global technology company focused on making the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining. 

Google in 2014 just tightened some wording ~ Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful


What managers can learn from Saints

In April 2014 the Catholic Church canonised two saints.  Both Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII were inducted into the catholic hall of fame for their acts as exemplars of their religion.

The Catholic Church is one of the oldest institutions in the world.  Modern companies are lucky to survive 10-20 years, but this organisation has lasted for 2,000 years.  A big part of all religions is the worship of people who do extraordinary things, or who other people will follow.

Let's have a look at the process, and you will see some lessons which could be learned in our own companies.

Importantly, a saint is to be publicly venerated by the whole Church.

When declaring a saint, the church looks at:

  • The life of a person. It looks at what the person did, how he/she reacted to the events of life, and
  • Is the person still alive in the faith of the people?

The nomination comes up from a local branch (diocese) and then makes its way up to Rome.

Now the question of miracles.  The recognition of a miracle verifies that the person is with God and has intercessory power with Him. The Blessed person does not grant the favour herself but intercedes with God on behalf of those who ask the favour.

Here are some lessons from the sainthood process.  Start from the end.

  1. Have a good idea of why you would recognise stars (e.g someone for others to look up to or emulate).
  2. Design a prize (a way to celebrate the stars)
  3. Make a big deal of "publicly venerating" them.  So celebrate!
  4. Have a defined process for recognition.
  5. Get nominations from everyday people.

Whether or not you are religious, you have to admire how religions recognise their stars, whether it be the Jewish Tzadik, the Islamic Mu'min, the Hindu rishi or guru, and the Buddhist arhat or bodhisattva.

In business, we should think beyond the token employee of the month, or employee of the year, we could go further.


Qantas - 10 ways to fix a company without spending money

My Australian readers know the topic well, others will know similar companies.

Qantas is in a vortex of trouble and blaming everything from taxes, to exchange rates and unions.

They have never blamed themselves for their malaise.  Sound familiar?

I am a loyal frequent flyer, but…...

Although I understand there are limitations on budgets which affect the ability to provide new aircraft and so forth, the following measures would cost next to nothing.

I'm a Gold Frequent Flyer so I get treated a little differently, but I'm also one of their prized frequent travellers.

    1. Penthouse to the Doghouse

I get treated like a rock star at the airport with express lines and premium boarding, but once I get on board the ‘specialness’ disappears.  On a recent flight from Singapore I had free Martini’s in the lounge but then could not get a drink on-board (more on that later).

Don’t pick customers up and then dump them down. 

    2. Be precise with pricing

When I make a booking you charge me $7 dollars per passenger for a credit card transaction.  We all know the credit card fee is a fixed percentage of cost, usually 2%.  On a $350 fare it works out the same.  On a more expensive fare the airline misses out, and on a cheaper fare the customer overpays.  To the customer it always feels like they are being gouged.  So Qantas is potentially ripping itself off, and making the customers feel ripped off.

Look out for Lose-Lose scenarios.

    3. Technology - Do it well or not at all

Their phone app is terrible and all it seems to do is sell other services.  It’s become unusable.

Either do your technology with customer utility in mind or don’t do it.   

Don’t turn technology into an excuse for an ad.

    4. Keep up with the Jones’s 

The facilities in competitor lounges is simply better, especially things like segregated checkin at Virgin Sydney (and Qantas strangely has it in Auckland and Singapore but not Australia).

Customers notice what the competition is doing and are easily tempted.

    5. Don’t bore me

The first time you go to the lounge it’s awesome.  The second time OK, then after years of travelling, when you see the same food every day, you stop using the lounge and start heading into the food hall.  The special stuff has to stay special. 

Don’t confuse consistency with boring.

    6. I’m always important

As a frequent flyer, the lounge and boarding experience make me feel special.  Sometimes on an international flight I will get greeted as a Gold flyer.  When this happens (as it usually does with their partners like Emirates) I feel a little warm glow from being special.  But the problem is that it happens rarely on Qantas.  Once it happens, I expect it all the time.

When it doesn’t happen (usually), I feel a little less than ordinary, rather than special.

The same happens with express customs clearance cards.  Sometimes frequent flyers receive them, but most times not.  They will provide one if asked, but that’s not the point.

Once a customer is made to feel extra special, you have to keep it up.

    7. The free extras should not be rubbish

Most free things are terrible. On Qantas, the food is not free. I pay handsomely for food with my ticket.  So I don’t appreciate receiving something with the same quality as free.  If you have ever flown into Sydney at 6am and greeted with the oily tasteless concrete Danish served with orange juice, then you will know.   

    8. Either you are premium or you are cheap

There is no in-between.  

It’s well known now that to get a drink on Qantas is almost impossible.  There is one alcoholic drink with the meal and then just water.  Again, I paid for full service and expect at least to be asked. Don’t make me feel like Oliver Twist.  On a recent flight I pushed the call buzzer for a wine after dinner and had to wait 21 minutes for someone to answer the call, after which all I got was huff and puff from the staff member. (Yes I timed it because I run a Mystery Shopping company) 

    9. Give a massively valuable FREE freebie

I used to get upgrades.  Now - never.

Here's a big tip Qantas.  Occasionally upgrade your frequent-flyers to business class. It costs nothing and generates a mass of goodwill. It also won't affect your business class bookings. It’s such a wonderful surprise, and usually gets spread on social media in seconds (there’s nothing like posting a Business Class seat photo).

Apparently policy is to upgrade only if Economy is full.  Well Economy is rarely full anymore because you dropped the ball on all the things above.

All businesses should look for massively valuable goodies which cost next to nothing.

10. Zero Cost is not zero impact

Just because these measures don't cost money, does not mean they will not have an impact.  I now fly Emirates planes when I book on Qantas.  Thanks to their codeshare I fly an awesome airline and it costs me no more, though I'm sure it costs Qantas a lot.  These free fixes matter.  Just don't get too complicated and you'll be fine dear Qantas.


My disclaimer is that I don’t run an airline, I run a Mystery Shopping company.  What I know from doing over 30,000 evaluations per year is that customers crave consistency, but the companies who need my services most are the ones who don’t use them.  I wonder if that's why they keep bouncing around like a plane in a storm?  

Love you Qantas, loyally yours… for now.


One thing which will kill your business

The one thing that kills businesses is the arrogance of its managers.

I am not talking about their attitude or the way they carry themselves.  I’m talking about being so arrogant they think they know everything.

Me: “So - do you test the quality of your product?”

Prospect: “What do you mean?”

Me: “That it’s fresh, cooked properly, and presented right”

Prospect: "Oh yeh we care about quality, but we already know what quality is being delivered”

Me: “Oh really?  How”

Prospect: “We have great fail-safe systems.  The franchisees cannot stuff it up”

Me: “But what if they do? I’m sure you’d agree that would be a good place to start?”

Prospect: “No - we’re good with all that"

Me: “Goodbye”

I can’t help people who believe their own bullshit.  It's an excuse for laziness.

I’ve come across phone systems that don’t work, stores selling competitor products, and even stores which don’t exist (but should).

Do you want to know what’s going on in your business?  

Challenge the things you “know” to be true before you look for unknown problems which may not even exist.