We tend to value successful companies at face value for their ability to consistently meet analysts’ expectations. However, we should really be scrutinizing their internal structures: the culture, processes, and relationships in order to determine what’s driving the accomplishments.
Then we should steal them.
In the pursuit of self improvement, several parallels can be drawn between how successful companies are run and how we live our lives. We can realize these patterns, and actualize them into our lifestyles.
1) Craft your brand image based on what you’re passionate about
This is the what.
Our brand image is often driven by what we’re passionate about. For example, Zappos is known for and prides itself in its superior customer service, which is an ingrained ideology that is prevalent throughout the company starting with Tony Hsieh, its CEO.
We asked ourselves what we wanted this company to stand for. We didn’t want to just sell shoes. I wasn’t even into shoes — but I was passionate about customer service. — Tony Hsieh
This is our personal brand, an extension of what we are passionate about. It is our character. And it is shaped by our experiences.
Stepping outside our comfort zones towards new experiences is the best way to figure out what we’re passionate about. What new experiences can we take today to strengthen our personal brand?
2) Execute your competitive advantage
This is the how.
Our competitive advantage can be intellectual, but often lies in the execution of the business model. A prime example is Virgin, which started out as a boutique record shop but is now is a multibillion dollar conglomerate, operating subsidiaries including Virgin America, Virgin Mobile, and Virgin Galactic.
Don’t think “what’s the cheapest way to do it” or “what’s the fastest way to do it”…think “what’s the most amazing way to do it.” — Sir Richard Branson
How we go about our lives has a huge impact on our lifestyle. We are all creatures of habit. As such, we should figure out which negative habits (e.g. too much Netflix) we are willing to sacrifice for positive habits (e.g. exercise more), and come up with a way to ritualize this process. Once internalized, our positive habits become drivers that can accelerate us in building the lifestyle we want.
3) Choose your employees and business partners carefully
This is the who.
We need to hire employees and partner with clients who are aligned in vision and goals for the long term. Google is known for its challenging interview questions, but did you know that Larry Page and Sergey Brin used to sign off on every hire? This way, they make sure that they’re hiring not only the brightest, but also the ones that share similar mindsets.
“If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning.” — Larry Page
This is our network and how we interact with others: the employees and business partners are our friends and significant others. We are the average of the five people we interact with the most. Therefore we need to surround ourselves with people who are the right “fit” in our journey to improve ourselves.
The same forces that drive successful businesses can be applied to our lives. So let’s observe, identify, and actualize these methodologies so that we can be better than we were yesterday.