The Movie My Fair Lady was a film about the classic debate of nature versus nurture. Are we a product of our environment or is our way of being somewhat predetermined by the core software installed in our think-o-matic? That wasn’t the only Hollywood take on the subject, my favorite trio of goofballs, The Three Stooges, also explored the subject in their short Hoi Palloi.
No matter where you fit on this debate there’s no questioning that your environment definitely contributes to your success. This is, of course, why the librarian is always shushing people who talk too much in the library - you’re supposed to be able to focus.
But there is a take on this that’s relative to us in how we work toward making our businesses better. Is the environment you’re in conducive to maximizing what you’re capable of?
There’s a client I had where the environment was not conducive to success. Every idea would get poo pooed, creativity was stifled, the place was a madhouse and all they wanted to do was increase their sales. But the problem with their numbers wasn’t that their marketing sucked - it was that they didn’t do what it took to both manage their message the way their customers wanted to receive that message and then follow up with delivery.
This place had been very successful for a very long time but, in today’s changing digital age, they were seeing significant changes to their business. Furthermore a new company opened up near them that offered a competing product and they were eating my client alive.
That new competitor had all sorts of innovative and guerrilla marketing tactics that were just terrific. We could watch their business grow rather quickly. However, they were terrible at follow-through as well so their growth was stifled by that and, once the lousy reviews started coming in, they were not as much of a competitor after all.
However that didn’t mean that client A shouldn’t look at their messaging and how it was being done. Customers for this business still were aware of how this type of industry was being handled elsewhere and the expectations were changing as changes happened in the industry as a whole.
This kind of thing can be taken a step further with any business. For example, what shoe store hasn’t been affected by Zappos? What local hardware store hasn’t been affected by Amazon? Of course local book stores are probably the most affected by this retailing giant.
Even competitors to Amazon are affected by them because Amazon has established just how to do shipping and delivery right. When you order from Amazon you get an acknowledgement of the order, shipping notification and delivery notification. You practically get the delivery driver’s home address and whether they prefer craft beer or soda pop.
So, for example, if you do choose to sell products on the Internet take a page from Amazon’s book and offer outstanding delivery in that form.
One of my side hustles is selling a lot of stuff on eBay and I’ve found that having anything I have on the market already packaged and ready to go the moment a buyer pays has been great for my reputation as an on-line seller. This adaptation in how I manage this part of my life is a direct result of how Amazon does things.
So, back to the original topic, is the environment that you’re surrounded by conducive to making you as successful as possible? Clearly you’ve got the “nature” part of the equation right as you’re reading this blog, so now you have to nurture that creativity.
Sometimes just a few changes will adjust the nurture component in the equation to where it needs to be. In my case that can mean tidying up my office (I hate clutter, but I’m so good at creating it). However, in the case of the aforementioned Client A it meant simply telling them that I could not be of service. You sometimes do have to fire clients.
And, if you’re working at a job that doesn’t nurture what you’re capable of producing, that might mean it’s time to look elsewhere. There is nothing worse than being stuck in an environment that stifles your creativity and abilities to be exceptional. In fact, this is one of the biggest complaints employees have about their work place. Bosses - are you reading this?
Lastly, you may think I’m crazy but mentioning those films just allowed me to write off their purchase on my taxes. Who else gets to write-off Three Stooges box sets? And, yes, I bought it on eBay!