Does Your Business Have a Heart and Soul?

Every now and then, I receive an email asking if I would be interested in receiving a new book to read.   I always enjoy reading the books that come my way, because often I would never have heard of them if the authors or publishing companies had not reached out.  Such was the case of  "Heart and Soul," by  Robert L. Shook. I was intrigued with the book because Bill Austin and Starkey Labs was one of the five companies featured in the book.  I admire Austin's work with children from all over the world-- he supplies hearing aids to those in need.

This post is not going to be a book review, because I will tell you simply that this is a wonderful book to read about companies who are doing the right thing and providing services or products above and beyond the scope of their business.  There are five companies profiled in Heart and Soul:

  • Mary Kay, a cosmetics company whose founder believed in giving to those in need.
  • Starkey Labs, a hearing aid company that employs missions around the world to distribute hearing aids.
  • InRETURN,  a non-profit organization that provides jobs for people with disabilities
  • DaVita, a company that operates outpatient dialysis facilities and lives by the quote, "It is easy to be mindful. It is hard to remember to be mindful."
  • World Wide Technology, Inc.,  the nation's largest company with majority in African American ownership, which believes, "A company must have a foundation of trust."

It was the book jacket that really drew me in.  I learned that Robert L. Shook is an author of 55 books, five of which are best sellers.  He specializes in writing business books.  I got in touch with Robert so that I could learn more.  Bob, as he is known to his family, was a former insurance salesman.  He began writing his first book back in the late 70's and discovered that he truly enjoyed the writing process.   "As an insurance salesman, I would get up at seven a.m. and come home at eleven at night.   I was good at sales, but I didn't enjoy what I was doing." His first book, "How to Be the Complete Professional Salesperson" was turned down 24 times before it was published.  After Bob sold his first three books, he quit his job and has been a full-time writer since 1978.

Before he began writing "Heart and Soul,"  Bob asked himself the same question that he always does before each business book he writes:  As a business person, would I benefit from reading it? He felt strongly that the positive message of the five companies needed to be shared. "American greed--that upsets me," Bob said.  "I believe if you take care of people, if you treat them right, it is better for business.  The companies that I researched for the book-- they all did the right thing.  They take care of their employees and their customers.  Their employees are loyal as a result and they have less people who quit."

Bob also explained that there is a huge marketing benefit for companies that operate with a heart and soul:  they derive benefit from word of mouth marketing-- and spend less money on overall marketing costs.  "The message from Heart and Soul is a simple one: treat people well.  When you treat the customer right, you will have repeat business from them and from referrals.  Most companies don't understand or follow that basic, simple philosophy."

Writing is a skill that Bob has passed down to his three children and all of them have published books.  "If you write a page a day, in 300 days, you can complete one book-- that's success," said Bob.  "Writing is 98 percent discipline and just two percent creativity, although my daughter would say that it's actually 99 percent discipline!"

One of the most challenging books for Bob to write was "Miracle Medicines, Seven Lifesaving Drugs and the People Who Created Them."  The book was born from a simple question: Why is medicine so expensive?   Bob found the topic difficult to research and understand, due to his limited knowledge of chemicals.   "I told my wife, 'This is hard.'  I struggled with it, but I never gave up.  I learned a lesson from it:  How do you eat an elephant-- one bite at a time.  The same with writing this book.  Some books are hard to write, but they're the most rewarding to finish."

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