It is amazing the lessons that can be found in the simplest places. I have to admit now, that I am a big fan of Guinness Beer. I have been for a while. To me, there is nothing better than a black and tan (Guinness and Bass). So, when I went on Amazon.com one day and saw the book title The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield I downloaded it to my Kindle! Well, I just finished it and was pretty amazed and it has some great life lessons.
First, I know that times are changing fast in our generation. It seems like the world is moving so fast, and changes are happening within our life time at a speed not seen in any other generation. Well, that’s what I thought. Here is a passage from the book about the changes that Winston Churchill experienced in his life time:
Consider the life of Winston Churchill. He was born in 1874. Men still lived who had fought Napoleon. Ulysses S. Grant was in his second term as the American president and Karl Marx was just then in the British Library writing the Communist Manifesto. Mark Twain had written none of the books for which he had become famous. Electricity, radio, television, and telephones were still unknown and only the year before Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Rutgers universities had met to draw up the first rules for a new game. It was called “football.”
When Churchill died ninety years later in 1965, men had orbited the earth, walked in space, and sent a probe to the surface of Venus. An automobile had already driven over six hundred miles per hour and sex-change operations had been successfully performed. Nuclear power had already come of age. Lyndon Johnson was the American president at that time and though he was considered an elderly man, he had been born when Churchill was already thirty-four. The year Churchill died, the Queen of England gave the Order of the British Empire to the Beatles. It was an honor Churchill had also received, yet for a far different contribution in a far different age.
Change is not unique to our generation. We like to think, and rightfully so, that we are having to deal with more change than anyone before us. Really, change is a shared experience through the ages. How we deal with, and what we make of change is up to us.
Mr. Mansfield highlighted a few key points about the story of the Guinness history. Here is my take on those points:
Discern the ways of God for life and business.
A great quote from Harry Grattan Guinness is “Gentlemen, find out the will of God for your day and generation, and then, as quickly as possible, get into line.
That really says it all. Find you place within the time that we live, make sure it lines up with the will of God and go for it!!
Think in terms of generations yet to come.
Did you ever notice that today in business and life, we are thinking short term. We don’t build a foundation for the future, we barely build a foundation. We need to be anchored in long term thinking – for the generations yet to come. Do you know it took 23 generations to build the Canterbury Cathedral? Can you imagine that? Can you imagine building a business not with a 5 year plan but a 50 year vision. We need to broaden our thinking and vision.
Whatever else you do, do at least one thing very well.
Ever notice that some companies want to be all things to all people? When you follow this line of thinking, you do nothing well. Advise that is good for all of us, be very good at one thing, then build on it.
Master the facts before you act.
Going back to the point that we think our generation owns change, we seem to act before we think. We are so bombarded with data that we sometimes don’t think strategically. We take an idea and run with it before we think about it. Challenge ideas and data. Once you have thought about an idea or project, gathered and interpreted the data and created a sound strategy, then act. Not only should you act, but act quickly and decisively – but only after your have mastered the facts.
Invest in those you would have invest in you.
Another great quote from Edward Cecil is “You cannot make money from people unless you are willing for people to make money from you.” This is lost on our generation. The best investment a company can make is in their human resources. Ya, it cost money, that’s why they call it an investment. Productivity does not come from squeezing everything out of an employee for the least amount of pay and benefits. Productivity comes from motivating an employee. People are people – if they only go through the motions of working for you, you are not going to get the greatest benefit from the resource. Educate your employees, care for them, pay them a fair wage and treat them like the precious resource they are. If you don’t care about them, they won’t care about you or your business.
2010 is going to be a great year! I will be the best year ever. Look out for those lessons, they may come from the simplest places. They could come the next time you have a beer! Hope it’s a Guinness!
Chris Reighley is an eCommerce marketing professional, online consumer behavior expert and social marketing evangelist. He is currently working on a PhD in eCommerce for Northcentral University in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Chris owned and operated many ecommerce retail stores in the music, golf and health & beauty categories. Currently Chris is the Director of eCommerce at FillTek in Cincinnati, Ohio where he works with online retailers such as Hugo Boss, Tretorn, Tommy Hilfiger and Bluefly.