Why it’s in your own interest to forget your self-interest

The modern world inundates us with a constant flow of information.  Not wanting to miss anything, our tendency is to scan the clutter for ways to improve our businesses.  Studying best practices, following experts on Twitter, regularly checking in with our favorite bloggers, we ultimately seek to be better and do better by our customers.  Sometimes insights are cutting edge and bend thinking in new ways.  Other times we find activating perspectives in established works.

Founding partner of BrandingBusiness.com, Ray Baird, shares the best of timeless wisdom in an interview with August Turak.  Author of Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks: One CEO’s Quest for Meaning and Authenticity, Turak is an entrepreneur and executive who has been a monastic guest of the Trappist monks for nearly twenty years.  Through the lens of service to our customers and building a beloved brand, a particularly resonant part of their conversation follows:

Turak: The monks don’t have a brand; they are their brand. So every person that comes in contact with them, in every single way, encounters quality—quality in the way they’re treated in the line to get food, the way their room is clean; if you’re a guest, the way your room has been cleaned for you. Every single thing. They are their brand; they live it.

Baird: What other branding lessons can we learn from the monks…?

Turak: When I looked up the word piety, it comes from the Latin word for duty. The monks are not just pious towards God; they also have a sense of duty towards everyone.

Duty is out of style in our society, but if you want to have a great brand you think a lot about, “What is my duty to my customers?”

…probably the most important <thing>, is trust. Authenticity, to me, is having a brand that people can trust. And the monks are tremendously trustworthy people. If they tell you they’re going to do something, they’re going to do that.

The next thing is consistency. The whole monastic way of life is built on a consistent, methodical, day after day, living the life. If you’re consistently giving people every single day the best that you’ve got to offer, you’re going to have a great brand.

…<There is a> [Trappist] beer in Belgium that the Wall Street Journal says is the best in the world. They don’t have any labels on the bottles. They do no advertising, no marketing. People line up in cars for miles to get two cases, which is all you’re allowed. That’s a real illustration of how powerful a brand can become if people believe in you.

Turak so poignantly remarks, “The most important thing that I learned is, it is in your own self-interest to forget your self-interest.  The monks’ entire way of life is dedicated to what I call service and selflessness.”

As a customer experience consultant, I have regularly said, “service serves us.”  It is in the losing oneself to service that service professionalism thrives.  If you don’t believe me open a Trappist beer or chat with a Trappist monk… then give me a call!

Smoke over black background

Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

1 Comment

  1. August Turak on July 10, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Thanks so much for the kind words. More importantly I feel as if you pull out here the essence of what the Trappist Monks stand for and why they have such a powerful brand.

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