Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Creativity and Empathy in Business

A friend runs a brewery. It's successful, but what he really wants is to open a second location; an intimate tap house with live music. Ideally it would serve beer brewed back in the mothership, but he has a business partner with no interest in such an endeavor. So my friend would need to open this venue on his own, which would mean buying beer from his own brewery at full price. Ugh.

In his mind, he's trapped. But my mind roils with possibilities. There are always creative solutions. If you frame your world as chock-full of potential alternative routes and workarounds, that fosters a spaciousness of perspective which really kindles creativity.

As inspiration, I told him this story:

I own some "junk" silver as part of my coin collection, and I didn't want to bring it with me when I relocate abroad. But I don't want to sell it now because silver's price is currently at a low. So I contrived an offer and emailed it (Subject: "Potentially Saving Your Life") to a friend. After explaining my situation, I wrote:
Can you stow it for me in your basement? If your house is burglarized or burns down, it would fall under your homeowners policy, and I'll eat your (entire) deductible.

If society devolves into a hellscape where only precious metals have value, TAKE IT AND LIVE! IT'S YOURS!

If not, when silver prices rise, I'll ask you to sell it and transfer the $$ to me, minus enough for a very nice dinner for you and your wife.
I'd turned a rather difficult "ask" into a good deal for him. The hellscape scenario might strike you as a longshot, but millions of people hold a cache of precious metal just in case. It's not nutty, it's prudent. Protecting your family means planning for bad scenarios.

And paying the deductible was also meaningful. Deductibles are eternal bitter pills. Between the two, I was offering a solid dose of peace-of-mind. And I could wait as long as I wanted for a nice high silver price, because, the moment we sold, the peace-of-mind would vanish. So the longer the better, from his viewpoint!

There is always a way to conceive and fine-tune incentives to get what you want, if (and only if) you're empathic - i.e. able to reframe from your own needy grabby selfishness to see the world from the perspective of the other guy. Load the other party up with value, even more than strictly necessary. Load and load full-heartedly to your outer limit of feasibility. The key to getting what you want is to fully apply your generosity.

My friend turned down the offer, fwiw. I understood why; I hadn't considered everything (e.g. homeowner's insurance might not cover it). Fine. I'll sell the silver now and take the loss. I stay lithe (also: SIGA is currently at $24).

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