I had the great good fortune to meet Russell Redenbaugh years ago when I was a still-too-young ambitious guy learning the whats whats of marketing. Russell was a huge inspiration. Blinded by an accident in youth, Russell blossomed into an elite investor, business leader, family man, world gold medalist in Jujitsu, and for me, a once-in-a-lifetime teacher.
Russell is an avid student and advocate of the teachings of philosopher Dr. Fernando Flores. Russell brought home many of Dr. Flores’ insights to small groups of equally lucky fellow students. Dr. Flores’ teachings are anchored in the premise that all human actions take place in conversations – whether with others or just with ourselves and indirectly authors as we read and react to texts, music, movies.
Dr. Flores elegantly showed how human actions and behavior can be deconstructed into atomic speech acts. One of these speech acts is the notion of the Promise. For every promise, there is a speaker claiming to address concerns of the listener. The listener will have criteria, or conditions of fulfillment in mind when judging the relevance of the promise as well as how well the speaker fulfills the promise. We make promises, explicit and implicit, every day. Listeners are always assessing the value of our promises, and how well we fulfill them. Our reputations and credibility are in large part determined by the promises we make and our fulfillment of them. As Russell and Dr. Flores say, as human beings, we are Walking Promises.
Businesses are manifestations of the people leading and representing them. Businesses are also Walking Promises. What are your business’ promises? How relevant are they to the concerns of your prospective and current customers? How well do you fulfill them? It is possible to design your and your business’ conversations. Do it and you can create and sustain unique competitive advantage. I promise.