Treat Every Opportunity Like It's Your Last

Does your organizational culture connect deeply with customers?

In this video, marketing entrepreneur and best-selling author, Seth Godin, says that revitalizing your organizational culture begins with treating each opportunity as if it is your last opportunity. Recounting stories of individuals and organizations that made the choice to connect deeply with customers and colleagues , Seth talks about avoiding the "status quo" organization. He gives examples of how this is done, including how organizations can change the world by providing unique and needed services. Does your organizational culture connect deeply when it comes to the concerns of your customers? Discover how you and your organization can transform your culture by treating every opportunity as if it's your last opportunity and every customer as if he or she is your last. In taking the time to treat each customer with individual care, you have the opportunity to connect deeply enough to change the trajectory of your organization.
My friend Jacqueline Novogratz was growing up not far from here. And when she was in high school, she had a crush on a quarterback of the football team. Maybe the quarterback we just had here, I'm not sure. And she went to school wearing her favorite sweater which one of her uncles had given her. It was a knit sweater of scenes from the Swiss Alps. And she's showing up, she's 14 years old and she bumped into the quarterback and his friends in the hallway. And as often happens with teenagers, one of them makes fun of her sweater and the mountains and the whole thing, and she's humiliated and embarrassed. She goes home. She's crying to her mom. She and her mom get in the car and drive to the Goodwill box and drop the sweater in the Goodwill box, gone. Eight years later, Jacqueline Novogratz is in Rwanda working on the first women's Bank of Rwanda. She's almost 6 feet tall. She's running her 6 a.m. jog through the streets. She sees a seven-year-old kid on the street and that sweater looks really familiar. She stops her run. She went right over to the kid scaring him half to death, grabs him by the collar, pulls the sweater back. Her name is written on the tag. And in that moment Jacqueline Novogratz's life changed because she understood how deeply connection runs. And now, she understands that you can look someone in the eye, regardless of where they live, regardless of who their parents were, regardless of how they came up and say, "I see you and I can open a door for you." And that's what the Acumen fund has been doing day by day by day finding entrepreneurs want to build things bigger than themselves. We now have all of these tools around us to bring more compassion to the world when it's our turn, and it is our turn. Quick little experiment, I hope it doesn't make you too uncomfortable. If you have done something brave in the last day, stand up. Go ahead and stand up if you have done something brave in the last day. How about in the last three days? Stand up if you've done one brave thing, look someone in the eye. Thank you. How about in the last six days? If you've done something brave in the last six days, stand up. Go ahead. How about the last month? The last four months? The last nine months? Surely, you've done something brave in the last nine months. Go ahead and stand up. Now, here is the question. Here is the question. If you are one of those people who are standing, if you have ever felt like a fraud, if you have ever felt like you spoke up too much, sit down. That would be all of us. That would be all of us. Because what we understand is that when we do something brave, part of us is saying, "Well, I don't dare stand up because that would be too much hubris. I don't dare speak up because people would think I'm too full of myself." I am really a fraud. Someone's going to say, the thing we dread more than almost anything else, "You're not as good as you think you are." And so we hold a little bit back. Well, here's the thing, we have to make some really big decisions about our life, about our culture, about our organizations. Here is a science fiction scenario to think through for a minute Imagine in the last 12 seconds, a baby was born. I think that's almost certainly true, somewhere in the world, a little girl. And what if in the science fiction story, she's the last one, the last baby born on earth because there's some rift in the time space continuum. When that little girl is three years old, are we going to say to her, "We know you don't have access to a preschool or someone who's going to be able to teach you because we don't have enough money to spare to do that." And when she's six, are we going to say, "We're sorry your school is pretty rundown. We're sorry your teacher is hostage to a bureaucracy. But there are so many students, that's the best we can do." And when she's 14 and she's not learning anything because there's too much going on around her, are we going to say, "Don't worry, the SATs are coming up soon and all you need to do is learn to use a number two pencil." Of course, we're not going to do those things. And what about that customer that came to your website 12 seconds ago, or that customer that walked into your office 12 seconds ago, what if she's the last one? Are we going to look her in the eye and say, "I don't care enough about you to treat you differently." Are we going to say, "Well, I'm very busy getting the annual report ready. Just take what's on offer." I don't think that's what we want to do. I think we have the opportunity to treat everyone like they're the last one and every opportunity like it's our last opportunity, not by singing in harmony and always being in sync. The magic of what Neil Young did when he got the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was not that he sang in harmony, but that he was the fifth hammer. He was the one that was a little bit off. He was the one that was pointing in a direction that maybe everybody else wasn't pointing.

Seth Godin

Seth Godin is the author of 17 books that have been best-sellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dipand Purple Cow.

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