I think a huge reason why we survived year one is the fact that I like people, and I want to see them thrive. Really it gives me no greater joy than to play a part in someone’s victory. It’s always been a goal of mine to make someone else truly successful and happy.

I’ve made a huge effort to get to know people on a personal level, gain their trust and be a friend as well as a coach. For a start this makes my job more rewarding and fun as I’m working with people I like and get on with. From the customers point of view, they’re more relaxed around me, and therefore communication is more productive in class. This also helps them feel part of something down at CFI, and not just another customer. People want and need to feel like they’re important and not just another number. And to me everyone has their story, their own challenges and their own way of being motivated.

When you genuinely care for people, they’ll recognise this and as a result, be that bit more loyal to you as a result. When I worked for O2, they had a campaign to turn their customers to fans. One of their slogans was “Customers complain, fans forgive.” Now whether this was lip service or not I don’t know, clients of ours who we’ve made a real effort to go above and beyond the call of duty, have been a lot more forgiving of our mistakes when we make them. They’re also the customers who are quicker to point out when you’ve slipped up, which is a great thing, since we can go about correcting them. Customers who aren’t that involved will simply leave without saying anything when you mess up.

Tony Hseih, CEO of Zappos, a company which was sold to Amazon for close to a billion, has this to say on building frienships with people versus trying to get something out of them:

“If you are able to figure out how to be truly interested in someone you meet, with the goal of bilding up a friendship instead of trying to get something out of that person, the funny thing is that almost always, something happens later down the line that ends up benefiting either your business or yourself personally.”

A drawback of this approach is having those uncomfortable conversations, chastising people or bringing up awkward topics where you have to be the bad guy. The familiarity you have with them can make it difficult either for yourself or them. Being able to draw a line and stop being their friend so you can be their coach or ensure your bills gets paid on time is a tricky one to recognise.

But, to me and CFI so far, the drawbacks are far outweighed by the positives.

PS: I have a copy of Tony Hseih’s book “Delivering Happiness” in the office if anyone wants a loan of it.
PPS: “Scaling Caring” by Gary Vaynerchuk