Are you allowing the economy to dictate your results, or are you making your own economy?
In 1995, in the aftermath of the Kobe earthquake in which five thousand people lost their lives, an American businessman told me that he had been advised to lower his expectations for the Japan market because Japanese consumers had reduced their spending, so as not to appear ostentatious or feel guilty about enjoying life in the wake of the tragedy suffered by their compatriots.
Last week, I was meeting the Japan CEO of a major European luxury brand company here in Japan who told me that he had seen a tremendous uptick in sales to Japanese consumers because in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, in which tens of thousands of people lost their lives, people realized that life is fleeting and you cannot take your money with you when you go.
Is it possible for similar phenomena to produce opposite behaviors, assuming these assumptions are correct? Of course. Yet at the same time, I question the underlying assumption in each.
Fulfilling these is what it means to create value. The most successful business people I know understand that. They seek to create compelling value for others. The economy matters little to them. They make their own economy based on the value they create.
It is only lesser business people who find external factors in the environment in which to ascribe cause for poor results, justify futility in making effort, and argue the pointlessness of attempting any change. There are myriad factors in any environment, so there is no shortage of factors from which to choose. They can tailor any argument they want to justify whichever view they favor. Their arguments are usually completely sound. Such people seem educated and informed. Some have even been trained to make such arguments in MBA courses. Beware of such people. They will drag you down.
All of my clients are selling products and services in declining categories as the population of Japan continues to shrink. Yet, all are experiencing growth in their businesses, most at double-digit rates.
Their leaders and the people they lead understand that while the environment always matters, it is attention to value that counts.
Do you and your people get that, too?