How is it like to attend Harvard Business School ?

The question !

Today I was with one of my Vietnamese ex-student, a young successful man, and he asked me a strange, unexpected question: ” Did you ever regret anything about getting an MBA at Harvard ?” I was surprised and I replied “never” without hesitation. Then he asked me why ! It’s always hard to answer such question on the spot because it leads to a number of thoughts. So, this is for him ! And for you !

First of all, this was a dream coming true at a young age. I was 25 at the time and my dream was to study in the US in a prestigious university. It could have been Stanford or MIT but then, Harvard was some kind of myth. When you’re offered a ticket entrance for theirMBA, it’s hard to say no. But actually, I only realized the value of the journey after going through it.

First of all, I went through “experiential learning” before the word was invented. Solving cases, day after day, for two years, was quite an experience. Eighty students in a classroom, trying to get a minute or two to talk and get a point to their peers and their prof, teaches you the importance of self expression. If you never talk, you’re frustrated and never get recognized. If you say some platitude, you feel others looking at you with some kind of pity and the prof ignoring you ! You learn humility and the value of words.

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Secondly, I gradually built my selfconfidence. This is a key point in all strong MBA programs. People enter fresh, either underconfident or overconfident, and the confrontation with others is balancing all that. You quickly see where you stand. In class discussions and through the tests. Being in a group of very smart individuals leads you toward excellence. It’s like playing in Champions League. At the end, you get out of that experience with an exceptional level of confidence in your skills and, if you’re lucky, you are balancing that happy feeling with a high degree of humility. That’s the top !

Thirdly, I was taught by great profs. I had had good and some very good teachers in my life so far but i was amazed by the enthusiasm and the professionalism of Harvard profs. I got interested in marketing when following Hiro Takeushi, http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=6563, a young Japanese guy, now a famous professor who was just stunning ! A real show ! I learned strategy with Malcolm Salter http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=6545 and Joe Bower http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/profile.aspx?facId=6426. Their techniques of teaching inspired me so much that I decided that I’d be a prof of strategy some day. Which I became. They were fun, but tough. Friendly with students but incredibly respected. So inspiring that we were waiting impatiently for the next class session.

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There are many other things that made this MBA the experience of the life. A wonderful campus, the legacy of heritage, sport and fun, and a number of anecdotes that we like to remember. But basically, it gave to my life a dimension that is still guiding me today.

Harvard is not the only place where you can experience all this. In any great MBA, including the one I’m now teaching in, the journey is more important than the knowledge. Today it’s easy to get the knowledge: you click and it’s there ! ¬† Giving sense to knowledge is the trick !

I wish you can all, “ride high”, as rangers say in the wild West. As high as you can. And still higher !

Be inspired !

Marketing…it’s not what you think !

What is marketing ?

To this question, most people answer it’s something about famous brands and TV commercials, billboards in the street and supermarkets… More sophisitcated thinkers often relate to the 4 P’s (Product, Promotion, Price and Place) and they wrongly say that this model was brought about by a professor called Philip Kotler.

Actually, this is not a model and it was not invented by Prof. Kotler. Edmund Jerome McCarthy, an American marketing professor at Michigan State University, was the first one to mention the 4P’s in 1960 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._Jerome_McCarthy. More than 50 years ago. A number of professionals still tell me they’re using the 4P’s anyway. It’s like driving an old Chevrolet ! It’s nice to remember but dangerous on today’s roads !

Marketing and the mass market economy

¬†Most people associate marketing with mass markets. They’re right. Marketing techniques were developed to sell and mass distribute products of growing industries like automobiles, soap and detergents, fast moving consumer goods like food and drinks. They associate it with global brands: Coca-Cola, Mac Donalds, Apple, Nike and the others. Some mention the obscure role of multinational companies as mass marketers, selling anything to anyone as long as they’re making profits. Yes, they’re right ! MNC’s did use, develop and improve marketing techniques over the years, leading to a world dominated by brands and mass distribution. But…

Everything comes to an end

This view of marketing is about the past. Well, maybe it’s still the present…But in no case will it be the future. All our paradigms are changing. Consumers are changing. They got the power now. They decide what to buy, when to buy and where to buy based on peer references, reviews on internet and their own smarter opinion. They choose the ads they want to see and not to see. They trust few brands but they want to entertain a fruitful relationship with them. They became much more demanding and hard to satisfy.Satisfaction. Here we are ! Here we come to the heart of contemporary marketing: satisfaction !

Satisfaction and oversatisfaction

Satisfaction of customers is not a new topic. It started to be popular 20-25 years ago with the coming of repeated economic crises and the hardening of the competitive environment. Faced with less demand and more competitors, companies had to retain customers, make them happy and loyal. This happened thanks to better products, more service, smiling selling staffs and nicer places to shop. Customers became happier and happier but the more they were spoiled, the more they started to behave like spoiled kids. More demanding, keen on details, choosy ! Impatient, sulky, agressive ! Never happy, always complaining, arrogant ! So, at the end of the day, they might have what they wanted but they were not loyal anyway. That’s how the idea came of oversatisfying them.

Delight your customers ?

If you want to make kids happy, give them an unexpected gift. Take them to the ice cream parlor when they don’t ask. Let them suddenly do what is usually forbidden. Exceptionally of course. Organize a kids’party for no special occasion. Etc. Well, if you want to delight your customers, do the same ! Easy ! Give them an unexpected discount, break the company rules for them, organize a surprize event. Go over their expectations. Always ! Underpromise and overdeliver. Care for details. Remember their names. The names of their spouse and children . The place they like to go for vacation. Give them attention ! Develop a true, trustful relationship. It will pay !

Marketing is about delivering value

Why do people stay with you ? Because they find an advantage that your competition cannot offer. It can be a functional value, a financial value, an emotional value. Google is the king of functional plus financial: an answer to all questions for free ! Apple is combining functional and emotional, but it’s expensive. Disneyland is 100% emotional. Whatever the combination, if you don’t offer a superior value, you’re dead ! Marketing today is the art of creating and delivering value. Selling is the outcome, not the goal. Selling at a healthy margin is what you’re striving for. And selling at a healthy margin for years and years mean that you are a marketing master.

Marketing is not only for money

¬†Strangely enough, marketing got out of the profit making industries to enter the non profit world. Museums, cities, hospitals, schools, NGO’s are practicing marketing today. They all need to satisfy their partners, visitors and audiences. They also want to share their vision of the world. They need to survive in the midst of hundreds of competitive alternatives. They also need loyalty. And they went digital too. When you think of all this, marketing is not so much a question of budget (new marcom tools are much cheaper to use). It’s a question of empathy, relationships and trust. It’s about setting up a creative, benevolent and open culture within organizations.

All in all, marketing today has not much to do with what most people have in mind

We, as marketing pros, should stop harassing customers and teaching young students and professionals to do so. We should promote upright and honest practices based on good faith and transparency. We should call for a triple bottom line approach https://profbaeyens.com/2016/04/07/do-you-think-about-your-triple-bottom-line/. This is not to feel good. it’s a question of performance, efficiency, results !

Be inspired

 

Did you find the green ocean ?

Blue ocean strategy is making the buzz these days. I can hear students and professionals talk about it everyday. And…as all famous models, the more people talk about it, the more the model gets distorded and looks like some kind of old patchwork.

Blue Ocean Strategy was developed by Kim and Mauborgne and first published in 2005. More than 10 years already. “They observed that companies tend to engage in head-to-head competition… Yet…it brings no real profit in today‚Äôs industries… Success comes, not from battling competitors, but from creating blue oceans of untapped new market spaces…”. https://www.blueoceanstrategy.com

This book is one of the most inspiring book i’ve read. Clear, persuasive, disruptive. But now it’s already a classic. Marketing has moved to new paradigms. One of it is “green marketing”. Green marketing is not new but it was limited to some greenwashing for years. Nothing really fundamental. Nothing really strategic. In the meanwhile, some pioneers were managing their little green business in some hidden garage somewhere. Now, the little guys grew up and are the current winners. The little green sea became an ocean !

Some examples ?

  • Whole Foods Market, founded in Austin, Texas, in 1980 by two owners of small natural stores, now more than 400 supermarkets in America and UK. A wonderful concept, marvelously merchandised. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com
  • Preserve Products, a plastic manaufacturer founded in 1997 by Eric Hudson in Waltham, Massachusetts. Hudson worked with scientists and engineers to create Preserve’s first high-quality product from recycled plastics‚ÄĒa toothbrush. Since then, it has grown into a dynamic, green lifestyle company offering a range of everyday products for almost every room in the home. http://www.preserveproducts.com¬†13413701_1740078236276574_328058319174818470_n.png
  • Ecover, founded in a small cottage in a rural town in Belgium by a team of highly motivated eco-pioneers. Long before ‚Äėsustainability‚Äô and ‚Äėeco-friendly‚Äô became household names, they showed evidence that phosphates, a common ingredient used in laundry and dishwasher products,¬†were polluting water systems. They created a phosphate free washing powder, a real success that soon found its way across the globe. http://uk.ecover.com/en

So what ? What does that teach us ? Winners are those who believe in their deep values. They’re not dreamers, they’re militants. They want to share, not sell. Money is not the goal, it’s the consequence. The key to success in contemporary marketing is this: values bring value !

Be inspired !

 

BREXIT: a new example of VUCA

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Have you heard of VUCA, one of the buzzwords in strategy today ?

VUCA is the acronym used to describe the state of our business environment.Not only business, by the way, but also political and societal.

VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity

Volatility

When I started teaching strategy, back in the 80’s, the best of the best tools was the “long term strategic plan”. I’ve seen dozens of such plans: 80-100 pages of details about investments to make, market shares to gain, factories to locate and countries to conquer‚Ķ All that was based on assumptions that the world 5-10 years down the road would be more or less the same as the present. ¬†Well, we know now that change is the only status quo. Not only that: the way we compete, our customers behaviors, our political and regulatory environment are moving constantly. Business and financial investors don’t like that. That’s why Brexit generated so much volatility on finacial markets too.

Uncertainty

Linked to volatility is the unpredictability of the framework¬†in which our decisions will be executed. Management techniques were always based on assumptions about the future and the use of planning as a major tool of management and control.But , as said above, , change is constant in this volatile world. ¬†We don’t know anything about the future. That’s why “planning, budgeting and control” methods lead to endless discussions in companies today. It just doesn’t work anymore. ¬†So, what can we do ? Strategists talked about scenario planning i.e. generating several scenarios about the future and the probability of¬†occurrence. Good ! But‚Ķit doesn’t really help much. Look at Brexit again. Everyone knew that the “leave” decision of voters had a 50% chance of occurrence but ¬†a few hours later the consequences of it were nevertheless¬†still hard to predict.

Complexity

Our world is now so complex that great decision makers are those who can point¬†the key issues in an information jungle.And great executers are those who can keep focus on key actions. Everything became complex: supply chains, customers’ behaviors, big data systems, economic models, financial products,‚ĶSo the danger is overcomplexification leading to a lack of vision or oversimplification due to a misunderstanding of key issues . Brexit again is a good example. Consequences of this political factor will be economical, commercial, regulatory¬†and‚Ķemotional. Moreover, all consequences will link together making the whole a kind of never seen patchwork.

Ambiguity

I believe that one of the main challenges of our times is to accommodate paradoxes. For centuries, mankind was characterized by simple problems that could be dealt with simple solutions. The complexity of today, as mentioned here above, is leading to a gigantic confusion. As most people still reason in terms of dichotomy (good or bad, right or wrong , desirable or not desirable, ‚Ķ) we end up with never ending debates leading to no solution. Today, we must think differently. We should accommodate the extremes. We cannot escape solutions that are wright and wrong, baring consequences that may be good and bad,¬†being finally desirable and undesirable at the same time. This how we should see Brexit. Whatever the vote, there was no “good” solution for all. Now that the vote is done, we will need to manage and negotiate the outcomes intelligently.

To conclude, Brexit is a good example of VUCA. But VUCA is everywhere now. We live and we manage in a global interlinked societal, political and economical environment. What is happening somewhere on the globe bears consequences everywhere else. Let’s be attentive and understand this complexity the best we can.

Be inspired !

 

Final theses presentations: viewpoint of the prof !

Last week was full of final theses presentations. Heavy stress for students. What about profs ?
Well, I always find it a very rich experience. ¬†So much human. Smiles or tears. Joy or despair. ¬† This is the final step, the end of student life, the entry into adulthood. What a feeling‚Ķ this moment stays imprinted in a person mind for life. In the old times, before becoming a “master” a journeyman (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/journeyman) had to accomplish a “masterpiece” that would demonstrate that he’s mastering the skills and knowledge needed to get the highest recognition. Our system of master thesis is the heritage of this practice and I like students who ambition to create a “masterpiece”!

Some students now choose not to present their final work. Solvay Brussels decided to make it optional. It’s one of the most stupid decision a faculty can make. The students who are not presenting their work also make a big mistake. First of all it’s a sign of disrespect for those who directed or helped them. Not even having the courage to come and stand out to defend your own output: what a pity ! Secondly they miss the opportunity to show an essential part of their person, to answer questions that might be useful to the understanding of their paper. Finally, maybe more important, they miss a learning experience and a “moment of truth” of their life.

I must say that we lost a bit of formality over the years. A jury chairman should remind to some of ¬†our colleagues that some formal attire is adequate as a sign of respect for the student and for the institution. I’ve once seen a young colleague coming in t-shirt and bermuda to a presentation. This is not acceptable !
Students often ask how we can read so many pages without being bored. Well, sometimes it’s boring. The challenge for the writer is to raise our interest.
I use quick reading techniques. I learned them when I was studying at Harvard. Go to the essential, get a general feeling, then go deeper on selected pages.
Students would like jury members ¬†who judge objectively. We try but it’s never objective. Should we judge the effort or the end result ? How can we forget about our empathy or our antipathy for some students. So difficult. I think giving a mark is the most difficult sometimes. How can a number reflect the complexity of my opinion ?

So, dear young people, be just sure that profs do not act “√† la l√©g√®re” (lightly). When listening to their comments, listen and learn to accept that you always have to make progress and we cannot make progress without examining our own short comes !

Be inspired !phd032205s.gif

Story telling. Why you need a strategy behind it !

TwoNotesonStorytelling-Header.jpgStory telling has been making the¬†buzz these last years. It seems to be the panacea to all communication problems. “With a good story, people will remember you” said an ad man to me recently. ¬†Yes, it’s true that people like stories and tend to remember¬†better what they like. The problem is‚Ķ.everyone is telling stories nowadays ! And, as always, once a new marketing tool is used by everybody, it’s not distinctive anymore.

Story telling is not as easy as most marketing people think. When you hear stories anytime anywhere, it becomes a “me too” tool and using “me too” tools is¬†the worst a marketing person¬†can do. If you add the fact that stories are written as quickly as the net information flow is going, 99% of them are¬†totally uninteresting dull stories¬†! Most of them have no real sense at all. I mean: strategic sense !

Stories, as content marketing in general, should not be run without thinking about it‚Äôs purpose. Otherwise, it‚Äôs just pure amusement for some geeks ! A sense of purpose is the starting point of any strategy. Vision if you wish ! Is your story an essential ingredient of your strategic differentiation ? By the way, did you think about your strategic differentiation at all ? Did you¬†define your target segment, your positioning idea, your value proposition ? Take a moment and think of this…

  • A great story is a story that means something for your audience

So, who is your audience ? Good marketing starts with knowing who you’re targeting at. Targeting is the first key decision and, strangely enough, few marketing pros are clear about it. I constantly see classical segmentations meaning nothing serious today (demographics or socio-economics). Or funny stereotypes that lead to nothing serious. Besides marketing analytics that are good for tactical move, you as storytellers should have a clear sense of their strategic audience. Talk with them, understand their words, preempt their sensibilities. Then ¬†you will be able to find the words and the scenarios that are touching the heart and mean something to them, not only to you !

  • A strong idea makes strong stories

The reason why most stories are lost in the marcom ¬†jungle is that they rely on trivial ideas. Platitude is common. People hear or read stories that seem nice but don’t get embedded in their mind. They read, hear, see and forget ! They say: “Oh yes, i heard this or that yesterday but I don’t remember the brand‚Ķ” This is not what you want. We know that a strong image should be based on a strong positioning idea. Use the S.P.I.C.E technique. S.P.I.C.E is a model I developed a few years ago to understand how you can better position a brand. S.P.I.C.E stands for¬†Sexy,¬†Personality,¬†Intelligence,¬†Customer orientation¬†¬†and¬†Emotions.¬†If you’re strong on all these points and if you can blend them into a distinctive concept, the chance is you can build a strong, great, distinctive story around it !

  • People like stories that never end

The best example are¬†the TV series. Once you have a strong concept, you build scenarios that induce the next ¬†ones. Each episode is a story but they call for another one you want to ¬†see. That’s how, at the end, you make characters stronger and the title means something. Something you’re waiting for. It may even becomes a myth.Look at long term successful mythical brands. Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, McDonalds‚ĶYou may love them or hate them but they all have a story, actually they “are” a story ! It seems that Americans are better at stories than Europeans and Asians. That’s why they have created Hollywood. Japanese brands are great brands but they don’t make us dream. Who’s dreaming of¬†Sony or Toyota ? There is no story there.¬†For us anyway‚Ķ

  • Emotions come over facts

A number of professionals think that emotions should not have a place in strategy. Strategy is based on facts, they say ! Customers should buy our products because they’re the best, they say ! Customers should love us because we have the best service, they say ! Forget about this ! We’re now in a post-modern world where emotions are more import ants than facts ! Like it or not, it’s like this ! So, we’re in a fight for emotions. That’s what media journalists are so good at. I don’t like that, I feel it terrible but that’s how it is in these days. That’s why to have a superior story, you should include emotional triggers in your positioning idea and your value proposition. The value proposition used to be “a product for a price”, then it became “product + service for a price”, then “product & service + image for a price”, now it’s “product & service & image + experience for a price or no price”. Have a unique or at least solid experience proposition and your story will come out distinctive.

In conclusion, as with any marcom tool, story telling is a good tool if and only your strategy is strong; solid and distinctive. There is no right tool without a clear purpose ! There is no impact without the right strategic orientation.

Don’t just be a “me too”, be different !

Be inspired !

 

Why we should admire extreme people

I’m the greatest, Muhammad Ali

We’re more famous than Jesus Christ, John Lennon speaking of the Beatles

I gave my beauty and my youth to men. I am going to give my wisdom and experience to animals, Brigitte Bardot

There are, there were other “extreme” people on this planet and they are fascinating. We love them or we hate them. They dare to say things we wouldn’t dare to say. They do things we¬†wouldn’t dare to do. We say: “Wow, (s)he’s cheeky !” We think: “Oups, I’d like be like them”. ¬†Actually, we need them to make things move. Because they’re cheeky, they speak out louder and make the world change.

I was thinking of all that last Sunday when I heard of Muhammad Ali’s, alias Cassius Clay, death. This man was extreme as I like: he was fighting like a street savvy guy on the ring but was smart and could be sophisticated when talking about his values. He was courageous when he refused to join the US army and¬†make war to North Vietnam. He was as important as Martin Luther King to make the black community fully recognized in their own country. His extremeness made him an icon and he could then¬†disseminate his ideas.

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John Lennon,¬†one of the world famous former member of The Beatles,¬†is another example. ¬†Lennon did incredible things in the 60’s and 70’s. The younger generations know about his song “Imagine” but they don’t know about the incredible things he did.¬†With his wife Yoko Ono, he held two week-long¬†Bed-Ins for Peace, one in Amsterdam¬†and one at Montreal, each of which were intended to be non-violent protests against wars, and experimental tests of new ways to promote peace. It was an incredible scandal. But it created a huge global anti-war movement. We would like to have people like this today !

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A last example is¬†Brigitte Bardot.¬†Most of you don’t know her because she quite low key in people press now. Actually, Bardot was one of the most beautiful woman and sexiest star of the 60’s-70’s. She was so extreme in her sexiness that it allowed young women of that time to make them free of men stereotypes. Actually, she was not a great actress but she was a great icon. After an incredible career in cinema and several marriages, she stopped that life to devote her fame and energy to the well being of animals. She created a foundation Bardot fighting for animal rights for years, a very trendy opinion movement now. Bardot is now an old lady, still moving, still fighting, criticized ¬†by some for her right wing thoughts but she made things change, we can’t deny that ! Respect ! ¬† ¬†long-bangs-brigitte-bardot.jpg

It’s strange, reviewing this post, that my all three examples are from the 60’s. Maybe the society today doesn’t let extreme people express themselves.Or maybe it’s because I was struck by these characters when I was a teen. Or maybe some are around that I don’t see. Tomorrow, I’m going to look around for the extreme people of today !

Be inspired !

Marks, grades, honors, distinctions,…next

My last post was about how students consider marks and grades. Well, I just graded students assignments recently, so it’s time to tell you about how we, profs, consider this difficult task !
I’ve always been unconfortable to give a mark because I know how important it is for students and I don’t want to mistake. For a prof’, there are always a number of unanswered questions. One is: should you grade the effort or the performance ? Some are doing lots of efforts, they work much, they spend nights studying and…the end result can be “not so good”. We should take that into account but how do we know ? Other students don’t study much but for whatever reason (they’re smart, intelligent or just lucky), they perform in top category. So, what should we do ?
Also, judging a performance is sometimes hard. I envy accounting profs who can have a ¬†clear appreciation of what is right or wrong. In marketing, it’s much more difficult ! we tried to be fair, we have objective criteria but it doesn’t mean we can not make mistakes.phd012014s.gif

So, faced with these dilemmas, I’m always keeping some principles in mind:
1) Is the delivery “professional” ? i.e. rigorous, deep enough for the essentials, impeccable in terms of oral or written delivery. I cannot accept a “middle of the road” performance when a great one is expected.
2) Does it bring value to the class ?¬†This is when the assignment is presented to the whole group. Is stimulating curiosity, bringing new ideas, offering relevant sources of information…
3) Is there some intellectual honesty behind it ?¬†No manipulation, no willingness to appear better than it is in reality, hide weaknesses or to tell some lies about the amount of work that was provided. I hate hypocrites and I prefer a student telling honestly “I don’t know because I didn’t study enough” to the one who will¬†cheat in some way. We have our secrets to detect this…

I hate written exams. I don’t like multiple choice questionnaires. I like to have people in front of me. It’s human. It’s like in business. It’s a true interaction.
And a last thing: I believe exams should be part of the learning process. So I always try to find evaluation systems that bring new knowledge or experience to my students.

Be inspired !

Marks, grades, honors, distinctions,etc.

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Exam time is here and, if there is one student concern I found in every region of the world, it’s¬†grading !
So much to say about that. Today, I will reflect my experience with students, next time, I will speak about how profs see it.
It’s strange to see how much importance students generally give to marks and grades. Even in adult education, when I’m teaching to professionals way above 20 yr old, it seems that students (we call them “class participants”…) are getting to “back to school” time: they even care about grades‚Ķ
Why is that ? Where does it come from ?
People prefer to be graded than evaluated. They feel reassured. They need to compare to peers. At the same time, they’re anxious, sometimes overanxious. They don’t think about what they learn, they think about what they think they are and they think about what other people think about them.
This is all bullshit ! Marks are per se a wrong estimation of a person value. You can study for days and fail that exam day. You can be a brilliant debater and a bad writer. Or just the opposite. The questions of the exam may be wrongly addressed by the prof, etc.
Of course the extremes of the Gauss curve (top 15%¬†and low 15%) reflect some reality: hard working smart students consistently score high and those who never work enough or are for some reason demotivated are always in the low. But for the 70% in between, what’s the deal….?

I ‘ll tell you more about it in another post, but for now, if you happen to be in exams now, just think about one thing: yourself ! You’re studying for YOURSELF, not for the prof, not for the others ! It’s just a deal between you and you !
Bye for now

Be inspired !

Do you have a life purpose ?

My last post was about: “Do you have a life strategy ?” Following up on this , I’d like to tell you more about the notion of purpose. Life purpose ! I happen to read today a blog post of my respected Harvard colleague¬†Clayton M. Christensen¬†published in¬†Harvard Business Review (https://hbr.org/2010/07/how-will-you-measure-your-life?) where he’s developing some of the same ideas I wrote about last week.

We both agree on the importance of starting a life strategy by a statement of purpose. I like to link  the purpose to a vision. In my eyes the vision can be more concrete than the purpose. Or, more exactly, the purpose is the way to transform your vision into  meaningful objectives. Whatever, I recommend to write a vision and a purpose statement.

Although I love his sentence “Doing deals doesn‚Äôt yield the deep rewards that come from building up people” , I differ on¬†Christensen‚Äôs thinking¬†on the fact¬†that he seems to recommend some kind of purpose that would lead us for life. He regrets that most Harvard MBA students “…have given little thought to the purpose of their lives. And he mentions: ”¬†I tell the students that HBS might be one of their last chances to reflect deeply on that question. If they think that they‚Äôll have more time and energy to reflect later, they‚Äôre nuts, because life only gets more demanding‚Ķ”¬†. I must say I don’t agree with that.

First of all, we have plenty of time to reflect on the purpose of life at various times in life. It can be when we go through¬†very important stages of life: marrying, having a kid, divorcing, burying a parent, etc. Actually, my experience is that it’s rarely related to job and career. These key moments make you understand that career is worthless compared to private life. And it’s good to realize that. ¬†After all, career, power and money beyond necessity are just lures !

Moreover, your life purpose is evolving. You cannot expect a 25 year old chap to see life as a 60 year baby boomer ! In fact, to tell the truth, my life purpose was never formalized. When i got out of Harvard, at 27 year old, I¬†had a very conservative life purpose. I just wanted to have a nice life, 3 kids and a dog, a beautiful home and a challenging job. Nothing great in fact. But it reflected my values. Later, approaching 40, I started to understand that I was more happy teaching that being a businessman. I was not a killer. I liked to inspire. I also had my mid-life crisis ending with a divorce. Then I found true love and for some years, I lived on a day to day basis. Now that I reached 60, I’m more concerned about my life purpose. Time left is scarce. I don’t want to loose any moment with stupid people or working on stupid projects ! My life purpose is clearer: to keep my freedom, to enjoy every moment in life, to pass on my knowledge and experience and to leverage young people.¬†

My vision is to be a man who is admired for his energy, emotional intelligence and caring. And to keep intellectually agile and always up to date. I have the vision of the father of one of my friends who stayed intellectually strong until an advanced age, being respected by all  to the end of his life.

My young friends, try to have a life purpose ! Try to make it more specific than just “being happy” or “being successful”. But if you can’t, i will surely understand it !

Be inspired !  54bd2593-2630-44ab-9f30-ba0e25f8a859_560_420.jpg