All You Need Is Love


Valentine's Day has come and gone - and with it all the chocolates and roses.

I'd like to invite you to pause now that it's finally Spring; when, as Shakespeare said, "we turn to thoughts of love," - to think about love and business.

I suggest that before you can truly succeed, you must love: love your employees, your company, your self, your customers. There is, in fact, no more powerful force for progress (and profits) on earth than love. It's the greatest power; the greatest sales and marketing tool: the strategic weapon.

How do people want to be treated? With love, of course. Robert Frost said, "Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired." Not too long ago, advertising media guru Karen Ritchie said, "It's not enough to know (your customer's) age, sex and income. We also have to be able to talk to them in a way they can understand." And what better way to do this than with relationships which are based on both parties' interests being served; built upon shared experiences and open communications. But relationship building (whether business or personal) takes work, time, commitment and action.

John Lennon said, "We've got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can't just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it's going to get on by itself. You've got to keep watering it. You've got to really look after it and water it."

In other words, the relationships are the key, and how better to create, nurture and sustain relationships than through love. Customers and prospects will feel they can trust you. They will feel you understand. They will feel important and comfortable when asked to have a conversation with them. There are, however, few four letter words in the English language that are more ill-used or beg for definition than the word "love."

In the mouth and mind of Jesus, the word love means "an act of unselfish regard for the other," or an act "that wills another's good." Both the philosopher Aristotle and the theologian St. Thomas Aquinas called that kind of love "benevolentia," from which we have our word "benevolence." And the theologian/philosopher Joseph Fletcher defined love as "good will at work in partnership with reason."

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin, author of "Being God's Partner: How to Find the Hidden Link Between Spirituality and Your Work", tells a story about the boss of the moving crew that moved his family from Pennsylvania to New York.

"It's like this, Rabbi: Moving is hard for most people. It's a very vulnerable time for them. People are nervous about going to a new community, and about having strangers pack their most precious possessions. I think God wants me to treat my customers with love and make them feel that I care about their things and their life. God wants me to help make their changes go smoothly. If I can be happy about it, maybe they can be, too."

Moving to New York. Buying a car from Lexus. A book at Books of Wonder. A diamond ring from Tiffany's. Lunch at The Four Seaons. You fill in the blanks. People want to be treated with love.

Peter Drucker has said that the way to grow a business is through marketing, "because its purpose is to create a customer." But if marketing is everything and everything is marketing, as I believe it is, then marketing demands love; for love is truly a matter of constant giving - a matter of acting for the benefit and satisfaction of others; and what better, more pleasurable, way to grow your business. As Katherine Graham said: "To love what you do and feel that it matters - how could anything be more fun."

Let love be the sum and total of all the little things we do, from the way we answer the phone to the way we write a letter, from the way we make a presentation to the way we fulfill an order. This will all help guarantee customer satisfaction. Because it will nurture and sustain relationships, and the relationships are the key.

Let love be a way of doing business; not a one-time event, but a process of creating a customer environment of information, assurance, comfort and credibility. Let love be your strategic weapon, and it will help to differentiate you and your company in the marketplace.

I believe businesses have never faced a brighter horizon than what is ahead tomorrow. The opportunity for companies that can discern and satisfy the desires of tomorrow's customers is enormous. All you need is love.