Monday, January 12, 2009

More Branson wisdom

Can't say I've EVER come across wiser words in business than these from Sir Richard Branson:

“I’m not good at theory. Almost everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned by doing. However, Muhammad’s opinions excite me. They confirm a lot of the gut feelings I’ve developed about business over the years. And topping my list of gut feelings is this: business has to give people enriching, rewarding lives, or it’s simply not worth doing.”

The last 14 words say it so much better than my 20,000 word dissertation!

Thank you Sir Richard and Amen


12 comments:

Scott said...

More so than seeing this blog about Branson, I was glad to see that someone else has contributed to your charity RACE. That's awesome. Anybody, everybody, and those who appreciate Simplicity, I'd prefer to give my hard earned money to Trevor than government. Remember...charitable contributions, at least in the US, are deductible. Go Trevor and keep on training like you're fighting Apollo Creed for the Heavyweight Title.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Scott - you are very kind.

We quite appreciate that people donate to many charitable causes and ours is just 'another one.'

We have some people sponsoring us 'off line' too so we are confident of hitting our £3000 target by the end of April! Every little helps.

Thanks again Scott and best wishes.

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Mark JF said...

Twaddle.

I've no argument with the notion that work should be dignified. However, to suggest that every job has to be some kind of life-enriching fulfilment trip... twaddle. There are some jobs that are just rubbish: who leaves school saying, "I want to be a toilet cleaner / rat killer / paperclip counter..."

Your own dignity and pride may make you do the job well and diligently. You're a person and you have the right to be treated properly, whatever your job. Undeniable.

But the idea that it's your job that enriches your life and provides reward of itself... The idea that you're in some way defined by your job... The idea that your job is what provides you with enrichment and reward... twaddle.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Mark – Happy New Year – hope you are well.

Far be it from me to second guess him but I read Sir Richard’s remarks to mean that employers have a responsibility to make sure the people who work for them feel valued when they are at work. I would love to think the bosses of toilet cleaners, rat killers or paper clip counters see their responsibility as trying to enrich the lives of their employees.

Arguably those folks who do jobs that you describe as ‘rubbish’ need to be valued even more by their employers. They fulfil tasks that are necessary and they ‘contribute’ – they can expect and should receive equal respect and value as anyone else … and who is to say some people don’t aspire to do these jobs?

Scott said...

Mark,

I've met toilet cleaners and laborers that are more grounded and "salt of the earth" than many managers, executives, and owners over the past several years. Education has made graduates very dangerous and many of them won't lift a finger to get a job done; they're too busy thinking and plotting about how to get things done while life, and profits, passes them by.

The unfortunate fact is this: even though the toilet cleaner, counter person, or paperclip counter enjoys their job and perform in a manner of dignity, they're the first to go because of terrible leadership...the people who refuse to perform jobs with less glitter.

I've graduated from college, held some high level positions, and enjoyed the opportunity to clean the "head" on occassion. How can I ask someone to perform a job than I'm unwilling to perform myself?...twaddle.

I've seen people lose their jobs recently in the States. A small percentage, very, very small, don't handle the new environment well and elect to end their lives.

Why? Because they take great pride in cleaning toilets, delivering products, and servicing clients' needs. They define themselves by what they've accomplished at work and for their families.

Even though my pay has been drastically reduced here in the US, I still maintain a "cleaning lady" I've had for several years. She's become part of our family, she watches over our house, and she is a wonderful lady in her sixties trying to make a living.

How about those overeducated politicians that haven't done anything but take your money and appropriate it to their friends? I'd take my cleaning lady any day over the current leadership in the States.

Mark JF said...

Trevor / Scott - no-one is denying that people doing dirty jobs should be treated with respect and dignity. My point is that we should not be making the JOB the focus of an enriching, rewarding life. We should be making dignity and respect for each other central to our behaviour and we should should seek enrichment and fulfilment from who we ARE and not the JOB we do.

Obviously, if the job contributes to it, well and good. But I think there's something fundamentally unrealistic about telling everybody that their job per se is enriching. It's not about jobs, it's about people.

Trevor Gay said...

Mark – I believe (hope) we are actually saying the same thing.

I do not see how you cannot separate the job from the person. If you disrespect the job, you devalue the person – there is no grey – just black and white.

It therefore follows that the reverse is true.

I’ve just read "Dropping Almonds" by Bach Anon which is a brilliant book. It is written by someone who has actually been ‘at the top’ in organisations. He writes about how people ‘lower down’ the pecking order are not valued and how badly they are treated. I would love you to read the book – it only takes an afternoon - 106 pages of truth and realism about - among other things - how business leaders abuse, disrespect and devalue employees.

Talking from my own experience as a manager in the health service for many years I confidently state that many of the best ideas I ever heard came from front line employees doing the sorts of basic jobs you describe as ‘rubbish.’ As far as I am concerned the cleaner in a hospital is just as crucial as the surgeon in most clinical teams – and most doctors will agree with me on that.

Going back to Sir Richard’s words I believe the best leaders and managers will see the toilet cleaner as just as important as the Chief Executive and that is what Sir Richard is driving at – every job – therefore every person - needs to be equally valued – and not just not just in words.

Scott said...

Trevor,

Well said...

Mark,

Good points...

That's why I enjoy this blog. I believe that I can actually take some of these lessons to the marketplace, spawned in the center of healthy debate too!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Scott - very kind of you. I'm glad this Blog provides some learning - I am the biggest recipient of the learning - the people who comment here ALWAYS educate me!

By the way - I've just posted my thoughts on Dropping Almonds as my latest post.

In a nutshell I loved it my friend - thanks again for the recommendation!

dave wheeler said...

Scott...terrific point of view. You are absolutely correct about the "educated". Degree lone does nothing to insure one can get results when people are the tools you have to produce them. People who can see, think, and are not fooled by the emptiness of the words when the actions don't match them. The best education is not in the classroom, it's on the front line. This is where you learn empathy, the power of teams and teamwork, and the value of credibility when leading a team.

Trevor...great topic! I'll have to check out the book.

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