It’s early January and I’m currently sat on a train returning from London.
The Norbury clan have just been to see the star-studded cast of Julian Clary, Dawn French, Nigel Havers et al; performing one of our children’s favourite pantomimes, Snow White at the London Palladium, AND we booked in January last year. It sells out quickly.
Article aside, go and watch it in 2019/2020 because it’s VERY funny and the cast is pretty much the same each year.
It’s actually one of our favourite days of the year; we start with a leisurely train ride into London. Walk across Waterloo bridge stopping to look up and down the river, through Trafalgar Square to see the Christmas tree. A pit-stop at Planet Hollywood for a spot of lunch, no turkey in sight, and then up Regent Street past Hamleys (that’s a tricky manoeuvre) and into Argyll Street where everybody is milling about outside the world-famous theatre.
The show is definitely aimed at adults, with most kids under twelve sat there wondering why all the mums, dads and other relatives are laughing out loud. As the Guardian newspaper writes: “with Snow White, Julian Clary enters his third consecutive year of smuggling filth on to the London Palladium stage in the guise of family entertainment”. So, for a few hours, the world of political correctness vanishes, and real belly laughter can be heard ringing out.
After the show, we retrace our steps and wonder at the stunning decorations still up for a few days.
We always look to book for the same matinee show, yep you’ve guessed…it’s a Friday. In fact, the last Friday before Lily and James return back to school.
This has become a Norbury family tradition and we try to get the same seats as well (I won’t share those in case anyone tries to book them!).
In fact, the whole of the Christmas season is all about traditions.
The decorations, the fir tree, Advent calendars, the presents, the big man himself; Father Christmas, Turkeys, Boxing Day sales, Bond films, the Queen’s speech and the dramatic plots of the soaps (my advice is NEVER to venture near Weatherfield or Albert Square around Christmas as you may not survive).
Across the world, every country has a different slant on the main concept, and I bet you even have your own that has been passed down from generation to generation with the odd tweak here and there.
So why have we not tried to reinvent Christmas? Like say get rid of the tree…moved the date (if we put aside any religious connections) …made Santa Claus redundant etc? Well, the reason is that for decades it has worked; globally.
Generally, at this time of the year there is a different feel in the air, people speak to each other, we wish strangers happiness and prosperity, families are able to spend quality time together and as a parent seeing your kids’ faces light up with the belief that Santa Claus will deliver presents to all the good children is a truly magical moment.
Whether you believe in the concept of Christmas or not it still happens around us, it doesn’t need much explaining. I never sat my kids down and ‘inducted’ them into what Christmas was about. My kids have just turned seven but, along with all of their friends, got the concept really quickly and to quite a level of detail too. They are already talking about Christmas 2019 and all that it entails.
Wouldn’t it be great to take the concept of traditions and somehow link them into our own businesses – to get the same results, to get staff thinking, acting and behaving in a performance way?
If we substitute the word ‘tradition’ for customs, practices, methods, stories, beliefs, rituals and then think about it in a business context, what tradition really give us is a sense of belonging.
In our business, we have a few maxims. One of the key ones is:
People need… Something to believe in. Someone to believe in and someone to believe in them.
Christmas has this in abundance.
Traditions give us this; a sense of belonging.
You only have to look at some of the world’s most successful companies. They are not ALL the best at what they do in relation to their products or services BUT they are when it comes to creating a community that people want to be a part of.
You only have to look at companies like Apple and the loyalty this brand brings via its customers, staff and stakeholders. A lot of us have an iPhone in our pockets and to think an iPhone now costs more than some computers!
One of my modern heroes is Elon Musk; a guy that sold his business PayPal then invested everything into Tesla, Space X and didn’t even have enough money to pay his next months’ rent.
Our workforce, the millennial generation (1982 – 2000s) are all about meaningful work and purpose, rather than the task, belonging to something that is bigger than profits or even them.
This generation is now ALL adults aged eighteen to thirty-six and make up a large part of the workforce. By 2025, Millennials will comprise three-quarters of the global workforce.
So how are you setting up your business to attract them, retain them, develop them?
A few years ago, I worked alongside one of the UK largest companies as their leadership consultant; helping to develop programmes to do just that, and the main conversation in the boardrooms was not about profits or shareholder returns, it was about how to sustain this new demographic the millennials.
This generation has lived very different lives than most business owners have. Technology has been part of their lives, they have not had to adapt their ways to incorporate it, they designed it.
Businesses that do not understand this and don’t plan their strategies around this will become laggards.
My belief is 2019 is a building year, a year that is going to put down the foundations for being prepared for the next decade. And if you want to scale or grow your business you will need staff, but you will need to attract them and sell your business to them. The competition is going to be tough.
As Godin said, it’s not the products you sell, it’s the stories you tell and this applies to attracting staff, as well as customers. So, think about how you’re going to build rituals, stories, and real purpose into your business to make it a place where people want to be.
Give people something and someone to believe in and in return they will believe in you.
(You may not have to wear a red suit and drive a sleigh to do this).
The Scalability Coach | Britain’s Top 10 Adviser 2018 | Author of #1 bestseller I don’t work Fridays | Ex-CEO of a PLC