Three weeks or so ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a book launch by a brand & design company called Dragon Rouge, in a unique new store on 10th Avenue and nineteenth street in NYC, called "This Is Story". The book title, "Business is Beautiful" with its whimsical and bold graphic cover, and the unusual location and story behind "Story", was what prompted me to make it a point to be there.
I am certainly not a book reviewer, or critic of any sort. I felt compelled though, to go meet the people from this large, global company, and ask them what was that motivated them to launch such a project. You see, I have worked in large and small companies over the years, and have had for a long while the nagging feeling that some of the ways and practices of many of them, could not possibly earn them the title 'beautiful'. So I was intrigued to follow this lead, and search whether this company, and this book, had an understanding of Beauty in Business that matched my own.
I was happily surprised in more ways than one. Not only were the co-authors approachable and willing to share, but I got the overall sense that they are fully committed to lead the way; pathfinders and supporters of business done in excellence, with grace, elegance and sustainability in mind, and a desire to continue their journey of discovery through communication that this project wonderfully opened up.
You see the book, which I have read over five times now, highlights and discusses age old principles and concepts of life, such as Curiosity, Empathy, Integrity etc., in the way they are being manifested by a group of wildly varied, and highly successful companies. The store "This is Story" is one of them.
What differentiates these individuals and companies from most everyone is their unique capacity to turn traditional understandings of productivity, profitability and long term growth on their head. They have adopted, often counter intuitive to popular beliefs, ways of creating products and services that generate value for themselves, their employees and audience, while the honor the environment, support communities, build new models of innovation and offer solutions to challenging issues and circumstances that most find too big or "pricey" to address.
I have not felt such astonishment and inspiration in quite a while, and as a result I have found it impossible to stop talking and sharing my "discovery", starting conversations with just about anyone I meet about the book, the ideas shared and the debate it opens.
On a personal level reading the book had ramifications I certainly did not expect, but was delighted to explore: What would happen if I, as an individual, started living my life as if it were a beautiful business? What if I embraced the habits and principles of an innovative, mission driven and value creating company? Would my net worth increase like it did for them? Would my network of people explode? Would I have the opportunity to go deeper and further in my capacity to create joy & purpose,
surprising and delightful adventures with my friends, my family and co-workers?
My instinct sounded an alarmingly loud "YES!"
As I aspire to increase my awareness of cultural and educational conditioning that makes me a "taker", and alter my ways when it manifests in my thoughts and actions, I improve my ability to give of myself and receive, rather than take, just like the companies featured in the book did. My sense of gratitude towards people, ideas and institutions that support my development as a human being & support the development of others, grows exponentially; my curiosity gets fired up in the pursuit of life sustaining and wellness promoting activities; my capacity to connect with my authentic self deepens and I get to generate original concepts and ways of acting, as I get better equipped to interact, engage and relate to others. I am learning to be a connector and contributor, and expand my capacity to generate value for myself and everyone around me, actively listening in and gradually integrating an attitude of non zero - sum, and produce "win-win" results.
Somehow the gap between what I thought was a successfully run company and a successfully run life, lost its reason for being. I am discovering the synergy and flow of what at first seemed like two distinctly different arenas of inquiry and action. It does make sense that the way we do anything is the way we do everything; if that holds true, and I believe that it does, companies--who in essence are teams of people creating value for other people-- and the way they operate, can not be much removed from their "moving", living, breathing parts or a mirror of the people they in turn engage and interact with.
The book is the starting point I feel, not only of a wave of innovation and newer understanding in the world of commerce, but also a beacon of a globally increasing awareness that in this moment, and to quote Dickens, where "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times" our choices personal & professional can dramatically shift the result to "it was the best of times so far!"