I get it. We’re all a little more cynical when it comes to business these days — and perhaps rightfully so. After years of corporate scandals and white-collar crimes, followed by the sub-prime mortgage debacle and subsequent recession, we seem to have lost our faith in business, its intrinsic goodness and contribution toward the common good. As a result, many of us — small business owners in particular — have unnecessarily transferred that cynicism to our own businesses, divorcing our personal aspirations for success from our ability to create value for others. We need to regain our faith.
I’m not referring to spiritual faith. I’m referring to faith in yourself, your product or service, your company’s mission. Do you believe in what you’re selling? Let’s face it, if you don’t believe in who you are or what you do, then I’m not buying. Yet far too many people go about their business disengaged, lacking any passion for what they do or who they serve. They simply don’t … believe.
Faith provides us with the conviction that what we do creates value for our company, our customers and ultimately ourselves. That’s good business. So how do we put our faith into practice? Spread the good news. Or better yet, start opening jars.
I stumbled upon this concept of opening jars while on vacation a few years ago, and every year, since I go back to the same spot to recharge my batteries and renew my own faith in what business is supposed to be all about. That spot is the Historic Orchard at Altapass at milepost 328.3 on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Despite its rich history, the old apple orchard fell on hard times and began to decline. Neighbors despaired the loss and were preparing for the expected development of this landmark, but when it was offered for sale in 1994, Kit Trubey bought the land for an entirely different purpose: To preserve the Blue Ridge culture by resurrecting this Appalachian cultural and historical center. Her brother, Bill Carson, a retired IBM vice president, and his wife Judy started the preservation of the place, including its apples and its memories. The preservation project is underway today, with hayrides, live Blue Grass mountain music, storytelling, butterfly tagging, and a store to sell ice cream, fudge, country products, and local crafts.
The history of the Orchard continues because enough caring people believe in its mission. Sure, they understand that they need to produce, sell and generate revenue in order to survive, but it’s their faith that has taken the Altapass Orchard beyond mere survival to being one of the most outstanding organizations I have ever seen. Part of this bold claim is based on two quantifiable observations. First, the quality of their products, their ability to sell their products and their customer service is excellent. (The envy of any company) Second, almost everyone on staff is a volunteer.
How do they maintain such a high level of execution and performance if they’re not getting paid, I wondered. What could possibly be motivating them?
The answer, I discovered, is simple. They believe so strongly in the products they sell, and the reasons why they’re selling them, that they want you to try them. So they open jars. In fact, they want you to sample everything in the store. Why? Because they know that if you try something, you’ll buy it. It’s that good.
Opening jars. They have coolers of open jars — and if you want to try something that isn’t already opened, don’t worry, they’ll just open up a new jar right there on the spot for you. That’s how I fell in love with their homemade raspberry-jalapeño jelly. It’s also how I fell in love with their mission, which is why I joined their foundation and became a paying member. Imagine that. Why is a guy of Cuban decent, living in Miami, supporting the preservation of Blue Ridge culture in the mountains of North Carolina? Because when I went to the Orchard, they opened another jar for me.
It is said that faith can move mountains. In this case it kept the mountains right where they belong… along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Altapass.
Now it’s time to put your faith into action. Take a look at your product offering and scroll through your list of prospects. How many jars will you open today?
Manny García-Tuñón is executive vice president of Lemartec, an international design-build firm headquartered in Miami. Business Minutes runs monthly in Business Monday.
Source : miamiherald.com