Friday, June 5, 2009


You can quickly sense a well positioned business, product, movement, person. They define themselves in a word.

The non-profit I met the other day does really inspiring work with troubled teens. It has a word: relationships. The U.S. president has a word: change. The governor of my state, Minnesota, has a word: accountability. America has a word: freedom. Young GIs who dropped into the water and hit the beach at Normandy 65 years ago (still) have a word: hero. At my company, we have a word (actually two words): smart catalogs.

It's hard work knowing your word. That's because a lot is packed into it. Like what you stand for; how you are different, even special; what you value; the way you behave; the kind of people you will hire; where you are heading. Knowing your word means you've made tough choices about what you are and what you're not.

It's just as hard staying true to your word, consistently breathing life into it. And letting it breathe life into you. What good is your word if you never use it in your messaging; or let it guide your strategy and your culture; or define your products and services; or influence the kind of customers you want to work with and the kind people you will hire?

Really successful organizations know their word. They are inspired and energized by it. They are true to themselves and others because of it. They are confident about their futures by remaining centered on it. This is why successful organizations keep their word.

So, what's your word and how is it helping you? Drop a note. It'd be great to hear the story of your word.


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  1. Well, you really put the pressure with this post. How about for me, Living, I'd like to think I'm open to the opportunities presented just by living. How's that?