People and purpose

Christian Barden, Europe’s Kegstarter & Global Brand Builder, argues that a successful sustainable business needs two things: good people and a clear purpose for everyone to get behind. Here’s why:

Christian Barden, Europe’s Kegstarter & Global Brand Builder, argues that a successful sustainable business needs two things: good people and a clear purpose for everyone to get behind. Here’s why:

“We are stuffed in life without good people around us and a clear purpose. Behind every personal or team success story, no matter how big or small, there’s always a bunch of people who indirectly or directly created the environment for it all to happen. It might be a word of wisdom, a random act of kindness, a moment of inspiration, an atmosphere of support and safety, or perhaps a true one-off ‘sliding doors’ situation (for those that remember the film). Whatever it may be, we never achieve anything in total isolation. Nearly all the environments that help us achieve something involve good people.

We’ll never really know who all those people are, where they are and what they’re truly capable of until we stop, breathe, think, build and live that environment that attracts these good people to do what they’re great at every day for themselves, for each other and for your partners.

I only heard the phrase ‘your vibe leads your tribe’ for the first time a few months ago from the owner of our local chippy as we dropped in for our counterproductive post-sport Friday evening dinner. She’s right, if you, your family, your friends, your team, your colleagues, your investors and your business bring the right vibe, and that’s the energy that good people tend to bring to any situation, then you and your tribe will consistently have the best foundation to achieve most things that you put your mind to. “Yeah, but I’m not a people person, and I don’t know where to find these people” I hear very often. It’s actually pretty cool to be anxious about it; in fact, it’d be good to be. You don’t need to be whatever a ‘people person’ is; you just need to risk it a little, trust and make sure that to truly lead you need to serve first. Putting the effort ‘in’ and being clear, honest and trusting will undoubtedly get something back ‘out’ for everyone. As I said, none of us knows where these good people really are, they could be mashing in right now, or on the bus with you, or just walked past you before you sat down to read this. Being prepared to stick our neck out will help find them. After all, the turtle only ever makes progress when he sticks his neck out!

And it’s the same with having a clear purpose. Purpose drives a belief, belief drives a focus of energy and enthusiasm and that, backed up with the right leadership and the proper process and the right results, will get people and tribes where they’d like to be with a beaming grin. It’s important not to get purpose mixed up with achieving something at a specific time, that’s more about goals, objectives and key results, which are crucial, but a purpose drives you way beyond them.

Most of the mistakes I’ve made are from losing sight of the purpose that’ll keep me in line to ‘be’ and ‘do’ the right stuff. Having a purpose, perhaps counterintuitively, makes life a little more chilled out. It creates patience (something I’m notoriously poor at having) through a much bigger reason for doing stuff. A great example is what Garret Oliver pointed out at Scottish Beer Matters a few years back. He spoke brilliantly about making a great beer business. He said something along the lines of:
“I know everyone here wants to do all kinds of cool stuff with their beers and everyone will want to make a long term profitable business. You’ll make money by selling more, so in addition to all that cool stuff, remember to make beers that are so moreish that people want another before they finish that first third of a pint.” That worked for him, it makes sense to me, but everyone should have their purpose and be ruthlessly clear about what that purpose is throughout their business. Mine is to help get more great beers to more happy drinkers.

I know it’s tough to keep doing this kind of stuff, and everything else, day after day, month after month, year after year. It’s especially true in highly competitive and sometimes declining industries where everything is so immediate and where time and money is at a premium. But I’m yet to meet a team smashing it every day and hating it over the long run, and I’m yet to meet a team having a blast day in day out but consistently failing miserably.

I’ve been lucky to lead, start, turnaround, accelerate and mentor lots of different business, sports teams and people so far, and at the heart of the recipe for any success we’ve had together has been the focus on doing what it takes for everyone involved to have fun and measure the right stuff every single day, no matter how tough it gets, to deliver against that purpose.

In short, it’s why I bang on about ‘smiling faces and great results’ being my recipe of how to get stuff done with the right balance of the hard work, enjoyment, health and wellness needed to keep doing it for the long run.