Thursday, December 16, 2010

Generosity in Business

One key to raging success in business is a predisposition toward generosity. Generous people naturally anticipate the needs and desires of others, and their customers can feel that, even if only at a subconscious level. Ungenerous people may try to simulate the same result by coldly thinking through their customers' prospective needs and desires, but the result's never as good (Microsoft's interfaces are a pain to use because no generosity has been applied).

It's not black-and-white, though. There is a spectrum of generosity which extends quite far. Those extreme cases, instinctively driven to absolutely delight their fellow man, almost can't lose.

Much has been written about the basis for Apple's success, but the key is the extraordinary generosity (in design, interface, and attention to detail). When you fake it, it's not the same.

As I wrote
Chowhound had a vibe, and that vibe was the nucleus of attraction for (at the time) nearly a million unique visitors per month. With no publicity budget, our success was entirely due to that powerful and singular vibe, which extended in subliminal ways into all aspects of the operation. The vibe was seamless because it was real. Everyone running the site was sincere and cared deeply, and perfectly mirrored the sensibilities of our audience. You just can't beat Love as a unifying principle. If, say, Coca Cola or Union Carbide had such synchronization of the heart, there'd be no limit to what they could achieve. Instead, the corporate world has created a vast array of mechanisms to simulate that - and to hypnotize various parties into sniffing it when it's not really there. Comparatively shoddy workarounds, all.

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