Now, let’s not get too metaphysical. There are plenty of spiritual approaches to this question. But this is a business publication, so I’m taking the topic down a couple of pegs for this exercise. More specifically, my question is: what does the world want from you – in the world of work, of business, of entrepreneurship?
As you approach your job, profession or business, what stands out as your value proposition? We often think of what we are “pushing” out to our customers, or to our employer – pushing our competencies, our skills and attributes. But how about if we think about the “pull” rather than the “push”? As in – what exactly that they want from you? From me? Can we sort out the push, and the pull?
I believe in keeping a balance between the push, and the pull of our value proposition. It’s a balancing act, one that shifts over time and adjusts to ever changing circumstances – some external as caused by, say, disruptive technology while others are caused by our own personal circumstances, such as starting a family or ill health. Let’s look at two examples to illustrate:
Walter Elias Disney – Walt Disney knew his entire life what the world wanted – cartoons. Sounds trite, but he had a vision for family entertainment. He matched it with ingenuity and courage. Think about this: Disney and his small team produced a very popular cartoon character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Oswald became so well known that a rapacious film producer in New York maneuvered Disney out of the rights to the character and his design team. Undaunted, in 1928 Disney hopped a train to California and on the way to Hollywood he sketched a new character – a mouse. You know the rest of the Mickey Mouse story. Walter Disney went on to win more nominations and Academy Awards than any individual in history. By the way, Disney’s company, to settle an old score, bought back the rights to Oswald from NBC Universal in 2006.
Here in Rochester, NY, a towering figure comes to mind: Katherine Van Bortel. Kitty was fired from a well known Mercedes Benz dealership, because she was a woman, in spite of the best sales record in the showroom. She said to me in an interview, “I started with $500. I bought a used car, put it on my front lawn in my home in Victor, NY, and sold it for 6 times that, so I was on my way.” She launched what has now become Van Bortel Subaru, a top seller nationwide and often times the #1 Subaru dealership. Only 3% of all dealerships are owned by women. But Kitty knows what women want.
What does the world want from you? A great software app? A family pasta restaurant? A customer oriented CPA firm? You have it in you. But have you asked them, the world around you, what they want from you?