How Should We Think About The Way In Which We Work?


Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. – E.F Schumacher

Wednesday, 9.05pm

Sheffield, U.K.

Do you ever wonder if you have a responsibility – a fiduciary duty of care – to the world around you?

Most people probably do. They’re concerned about their environment, feel sorry for those in more unfortunate situations and try and be good people.

But is that enough?

Take the minimialism movement, for example. Some there would argue that you have a responsibility to live in the smallest house possible.

The smallest one that lets you do what you need.

But we’re not driven by needs. Well, we are to a point. But that point is fairly low – we know that millionaires are not ten times happier than those with a hundred thousand in the bank, who in turn are not twice as happy as those with fifty thousand.

They’re all about the same. Some of us, it could be argued, feel that the more we have the less content we are.

It’s like that saying – first you own stuff, then your stuff owns you.

So, is the right approach to have less stuff? Or less but better stuff?

For example, let’s think of a simple activity like taking notes during a sales meeting.

You need paper. Should you spend a little bit more and get a pad made from recycled paper or spend as little as possible and go for a cheap notebook with low grade paper?

Should you buy a cheap biro, an expensive fountain pen or a silky smooth Japanese 2B pencil?

Which approach do you think will get you the business? What will your prospect think?

It’s hard to tell. I’m told that some people always look at your shoes to tell what kind of person you are. I’d fail on that test.

But then you have a book like The Curmudgeon’s Guide To Practicing Law – which has possibly one of the best chapters I’ve read – Chapter 8 on page 93, to be precise.

It’s titled Dress For Success and all it says is:

I don’t give a damn what you wear. Just make sure the brief is good.

Perhaps you don’t need to worry about this at all. You can try and be something you’re not and sell successfully to people you don’t respect or you can be who you are and work with people you like, admire and trust.

Which brings us to E.F Schumacher and his book Small Is Beautiful: A study of economics as if people mattered.

You don’t really need to read the book. The title alone tells you all you need to know.

Think about what you’re trying to do in a consultative sales process? Are you trying to make a sale? Or are you trying to help someone decide whether what you do is something they need?

Take the words you use to say what you do… Churchill once wrote Short words are best, and old words, when short, are best of all.

Why would you use a long word when you have a short one that does the same job?

Take the design of a web page or a brochure. We think sometimes that our prospects make decisions based on how your stuff looks. For any real purchase of any significant value, however, you can bet they read your stuff before making a decision.

A simple design that helps them get the main points should work just as well as a pretty one.

What about systems? How many steps should your sales process have?

One, if possible. Two, if you can’t have one. Three, if two isn’t possible.

Really, you should have as few things to do as possible.

What about customers? How many should you go after? How wide should your market be?

If you try and sell to everyone, you’ll end up with no one buying from you. If you want to succeed, you need a niche. Successful large businesses are often a collection of niche businesses.

However big your company, these days you’ll probably find that if you want to get something done, it’s down to you. Perhaps with a few colleagues you trust. A small team.

The real point here is that scale and size is an illusion. If you own a very big company employing lots of people, you probably spend most of your time with three or four people. If you’re an entry level employee at the same company, you probably spend most of your time with three or four people.

If you want to get your point across, speak as you would to one person. Keep everything small.


Karthik Suresh

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