Leading without competing

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I am not in a dream. Today I had such a great time with an interview for an upcoming episode of Business Matters. This episode, which we will air at the end of next week, is about GREAT small businesses. You may not know it, but small businesses represent over 1/2 of our economic output. Pretty amazing…

coffee-house-largeToday’s interview was with Jon Cates of Broadway Cafe in Kansas City. I won’t give the whole story away (otherwise why would you want to listen to the radio program?) but i will say a bit about why I was so excited about our conversation.

I think one of the defining myths of capitalism is that if you don’t focus on the competition you will not succeed. I have thought about that a lot over the past few years. It has seemed to me that this approach often is both distracting and does not produce the results expected. It seems to me that the best and most sustainable approach is a commitment to be the best at what you do so that your customers will never consider going anywhere else.

This simple statement of being your best requires that you give it all you have. It isn’t a half-hearted kind of thing. I find that most of the corporate clients I work with have a strong sense of winning over someone else; fighting the competitors and so on. Yet there is too little attention put on being the best. Being the best is both a personal commitment and also includes the actions that both confirm that commitment and inspire those around me. Each day everyone in the organization creates a customer experience that is better than the one from yesterday.

A tall order, however, when it is the unwavering focus of the leaders amazing things happen.

imagesWhat brought Jon to my attention was a story that one of our producers told me about how Jon’s establishment thrived even when a Starbucks opened up close by. How is this possible? It wasn’t by reshaping their approach to “compete” with Starbucks. It wasn’t by a new marketing plan (they don’t spend any money on advertising). It was by simply doing better what they already did and not put any attention on what Starbucks was doing.

I can’t wait to share the story with you next week.

Until later,


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Author: Thomas White

Over the past thirty-five years, Thomas White has created and led private and public organizations that initiated breakthroughs in areas as diverse as computer software, publishing, printing, market research, leadership development and organizational change. The common ingredients in his success are simple. He looked beyond the limitations that others believed and found real solutions to needs that business leaders have. He attracted the best talent to translate these innovative solutions into practical products and services that were of high value to customers. He created cultures where people love what they do, work at their best and produce extraordinary results. In addition to his role as a business leader, Thomas has been a pioneer and inventor of technologies in the computer-networking field. He is a patent holder for innovations in business process and workflow technology. As part of his passion for educating others about the interface of human and computer systems, he was the co-author of “New Tools for New Times, The Workflow Paradigm”. He has also written articles for numerous publications. In 2001, he turned his attention from leading companies to supporting leadership teams in creating organizations of excellence. After many years of being a part of the machine of change, Thomas recognized that business is the most powerful force in the world. It has a major impact on public policy and governments everywhere. It is a key influence on how we use our resources and sets an example of the values that shape communities from local to global. He formed the consulting firm of Profoundly Simple to be a guide for exemplary leaders - leaders who wisely uses the power they are entrusted with to serve their constituencies first and themselves second; leaders who know that it is good business to treat people with respect, honor the environment and act with impeccable integrity – leaders who inspire greatness in those around them and by doing so create great organizations that are notable examples of success. Feeling the itch to get back into the game again, Thomas joined with two long time friends, to start the C-Suite Network. This network of business leaders offers an online network, events, services, and insights to its 500,000 member community. In addition, the C-Suite Network produces and distributes television and radio content to an audience of over 5M per month

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