When I was young, I’d deal with my anxiety in the dentist office waiting room by reading Highlights for Children (once in the dentist’s chair, I’d be tripping my brains out on nitrous oxide, but that’s another story).

I remember at least a couple of times pondering the meaning of the phrase on the cover “FUN with a Purpose.” I didn’t know at the time that it was any kind of mission or vision statement, it was more like a mysterious koan. I thought “What purpose does fun NEED to have?” and “If it MUST have a purpose, can it still be FUN?” and “Does Goofus have FUN and Gallant have PURPOSE?

Our September 19th presenter, Kent Johnson, 4th generation CEO (and great-grandson of the founder) told me that focus groups of readers mostly don’t even notice the slogan, they just dive right in to What’s Wrong?, Hidden Pictures and the Timbertoes.

But think about this: how much do you, your customers, your employees think about your purpose? Whatever that purpose is, however clear or unclear, however much about money or quality or people, however much it’s the same as your grandmother first said it was (or how your grandchild made it hip and new), can your company be at its best, if you and your stakeholders are not keeping your eye on that ball?

Socrates said “the unexamined life is not worth living.” And Peter Drucker said the problem with “Management by Objectives” is that most people have the wrong objectives.

People who specialize in branding explain that your brand is kind of like your promise to your customer. One could then say that if you’re not paying enough attention to any and all of that stuff (as your brand has a lot to do with your purpose, etc), you kind of don’t know/remember/care what you promised. Is that how you want to be thought of?

And if you’re one of those customers that says “I couldn’t care less about the purpose/brand of the products/services I use” might you not still be very easily won over by another company that does care about making the right promise, and keeping it? They know that you only think you don’t care, but in fact, that is what you’re buying and why you’re buying it!

Think about it, at least to get your mind off of your next impending visit to the dentist.


About the Author

The Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley is a resource for families in business, and one giant aspect of that is the next generation, working its way into leadership; often discovering how to operate as a sibling or cousin team; assuming the risks in a more competitive market than ever before; needing to innovate and evolve to avoid failure; and realize how to achieve that magic state of work/life balance, combined with doing what you love, as well as using your unique talents, different than what your family has known before. This page will be a place for you to connect, explore, and express yourself in the local and global communities of the Nxt Gen of family business.

Ira Bryck is president of the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley (in Western Mass). The center provides a learning community for family and closely held companies, which include dinner forums, confidential roundtables, and varied workshops; and produces the website fambizpv.com and advice column, Dear Ira: Fresh Air and Cold Water for the Perplexed Business Family. Ira confers with entrepreneurial families on an array of usual and unusual challenges. He is the author of three plays about life in family business, including A Tough Nut to Crack, based on his 17 years in his family's 4th generation childrenswear business on Long Island, where he served simultaneously in every role from president to tailor. The plays have been performed internationally over 100 times. Ira hosts The Western Mass Business Show on WHMP in Northampton Mass, where he interviews business owners and expert advisors about what inspires them, keeps them awake, helps them succeed, and makes them unique.

For more info, contact Ira Bryck at 413 835 0810 or ira@fambizpv.com

Pin It on Pinterest