Pushing The Boundary

Are you excited, nervous or a little bit scared?

Your comfort zone, as the name suggests, is a comfortable place.

It feels safe and secure to be there, because you’ve been there many times before.

Nothing unexpected is likely to happen. Nothing you haven’t seen before. And certainly nothing out of the ordinary.

But ordinary is not what you’re aiming for, is it?

Pushing the boundary is exciting and scary because the outcome depends on your thoughts and your actions right now.

Lead the way, and others will follow.

You could change everything.

Finding Yourself

THIS post was initially going to be called “finding your competitive advantage”, but I think it goes further than that.

Here are 8 factors to get you thinking, and to help find what you’re looking for:

  1. Why do you do what you do every day? What makes you tick? What do you believe in? These are things that you are not willing to compromise on for any reason.
  2. How do you provide value for others? Why do people ask you to help them solve their problems?
  3. Are you remarkable? That is, are you doing something that is worth people making a remark about.
  4. Where do you source your raw materials? Your ideas, your circuit boards, your fabrics, your fresh fruit, or whatever it is that you use to do what you do every day. Where do you get that from? Are they the best materials you could be using?
  5. Do other people talk about you in a positive way? Do you talk about yourself in a positive way?
  6. What are your key strengths that allow you to do what you do best? Are you using them?
  7. Are you in a stable financial position? (hint: lots of debt may stop from experimenting, from exploring, from discovering, and from becoming remarkable).
  8. If a customer or work colleague had to name three things about you, what would they say? What would you like them to have said?

Are you doing something remarkable?

Loyal customers provide repeat business.  Do something remarkable, and they will spread the word

CUSTOMER loyalty is an important asset for any business for two reasons. Firstly, loyal customers will give you repeat business, to quote Tom Peters “all business success rests on something labelled a sale”. Secondly, and more importantly, loyal customers are the people who spread the good news about your business. Loyal customers are the passionate and unpaid marketers who provide authentic testimony to the quality of your goods and services. Walt Disney captured this idea of customer loyalty when he said, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.

If a business can create something remarkable (e.g. beautifully designed products, superior service, or an uplifting experience) then its loyal customers will spread the word. In today’s competitive marketplace, a business that “does everything right” is a business that is merely “meeting expectations”, and Seth Godin identifies a number of reasons why word of mouth sometimes just doesn’t happen. If you can exceed expectations, dazzle and delight your customers with how much you really care then this will be worth talking about.

Speaking of the need to be remarkable, the McKinsey Quarterly recently sent me an email which is worth mentioning. Apparently, there has been a security breach at the The Quarterly and some customer details have been compromised.  While this could be a source of major embarrassment, McKinsey have turned the security breach into an opportunity to build customer loyalty.  The Quarterly’s email (set out below in full) demonstrates 3 things:

  1. McKinsey places the interests of its readers ahead of their own reputation;
  2. McKinsey takes confidentiality very seriously (much-needed marketing after the Rajat Gupta scandal); and
  3. McKinsey will apologise if it has made a mistake.

Here are the contents of the email I received from Rik Kirkland, Senior Managing Editor of McKinsey & Company:

Important information from McKinsey Quarterly

We have been informed by our e-mail service provider, Epsilon, that your e-mail address was exposed by unauthorized entry into their system. Epsilon sends e-mails on our behalf to McKinsey Quarterly users who have opted to receive e-mail communications from us.

We have been assured by Epsilon that the only information that was obtained was your first name, last name and e-mail address and that the files that were accessed did not include any other information. We are actively working to confirm this. We do not store any credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other personally identifiable information of our users, so we can assure you that no such information was accessed.

Please note, it is possible you may receive spam e-mail messages as a result. We want to urge you to be cautious when opening links or attachments from unknown third parties. Also know that McKinsey Quarterly will not send you e-mails asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. So if you are ever asked for this information, you can be confident it is not from McKinsey.

We regret this has taken place and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We take your privacy very seriously, and we will continue to work diligently to protect your personal information.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact McKinsey Quarterly at [email protected] For any media inquiries, please contact Humphrey Rolleston at +1-212-415-5321.

Rik Kirkland
Senior Managing Editor
McKinsey & Company