All I Need to Know about Business I Learned from a Duck

Business Lessons From Elephants

When it comes to creating a distinct, competitive advantage in the market place sometimes owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses are intimidated by the resources available to larger businesses and national conglomerates. What with their huge budgets and their ability to not only access sophisticated methods of marketing research but also tap into mounds of data that can be mined for purchase behaviors and buying trends; how can the small guy possibly compete?

In a word, to beat out the big boys, you have to be more creative then they are (you can’t out spend them so you have to out think them). And after more than 25 years of working in the advertising business where individuals make a living from generating creative ideas, I have determined that the best creative people have developed a system or process that provides them with an ability to see the world from a different perspective than the rest of us; and in so doing they develop truly unique solutions to business and communications challenges.

That was a long lead-in to the crux of my message; however it is important to understand that creating innovative ideas, strategies and tactics requires a departure from traditional linear thinking to smack-on-the-side-of-the-head thinking. Which is another lead-in to the subject of elephants … and the book I just published.

Edward DeBono, world-leading authority in the field of creative thinking, developed a lateral thinking technique where you first fully focus on the problem you’re trying to solve and then inject the idea of something that is far removed from the problem – the further from the subject the better. So as you consider the problem of creating a competitive advantage for your company, watch the video about elephants grieving, below, and remain open to the business lesson inherent in their behavior:

Here’s what I came up with for myself: Grieving is a form of empathy because both emotions require the ability to imagine being in someone else’s position. And because I recently read an article by Bruna Martinuzzi, president and founder of Clarion Enterprises, a company that specializes in emotional intelligence and leadership training, I’m aware of numerous studies that link empathy to improving business results.

Now imagine that you have fully integrated “empathy” into your organization and your value proposition (a value proposition answers the question, “Why should I do business with you?”). Can “big business” compete against a smaller company that consistently practices empathy toward their customers, employees and suppliers? Can they compete against a company with employees who strive to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, reactions, concerns and motives? Employees who are trained to understand what makes people tick, to create relationships and to be caring of others?

What gains in profitability, market share, employee morale, employee retention, customer satisfaction and customer loyalty would an “empathetic company” experience over the course of a day, a quarter, a year … 5 years?

If you liked this exercise, then you’re really going to like my new book All I Need to Know about Business I Learned from a Duck because it not only contains this business lesson from elephants, but it also contains 87 more! Ask for it at your bookstore, or click this link and purchase it online, today!

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One Response to “Business Lessons From Elephants”

  1. Patricia Lofthouse says:

    Hi Tom: I like your website. I like being able to download the excerpts from your book.

    I did have difficulty reading the flashing insets on your homepage. They flashed before I had a chance to finish reading the paragraph.

    I love the incorporation of the You Tube video.


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