Seek to “INNERstand”

To understand your audience is one thing; but to truly reach into the deepest parts of another individual, to fully comprehend their drives, inhibitions, desires, and motives; this is to INNERstand them. Whether you are an individual with a burning message to share with the world or an organization with a life-changing product to provide to those in need; both cases require a certain level of innerstanding. Much like within interpersonal relationships, understanding the point of view the other is crucial. The best relationships do not form due to similar tastes in movies or music, but by allocating quality time with pure intention to fully grasp where exactly the other person is coming from.

In this new economy, it is essential to treat your relationship with your customers, as you would treat a friendship. For instance, if you had some news that you wanted to share with a friend, would you deliver it to them in a compelling story that is relevant to their own life experience or just give them a generic statement that you kinda, sort, think makes sense? For far too long, advertisers have been talking at their audience instead of speaking with them; and by speaking with them I do not mean some focus group that is being paid to taste your new Acai recipe. I mean a true conversation; a back and forth dialogue that is deeper than “which one tastes better”. Social Media has made it possible for individuals and companies alike to maintain a streamline of communication. There are no longer any excuses for not getting to know the true beneficiaries of your brand. This sort of symbiotic relationship creates a win-win situation; both parties receive exactly what they want while reciprocating the value.

Take the extra time to know your customer. Ask them questions. Know why they buy from you and not the place next door. Ask them why their kids love the place. This may seem self-serving, but for those with a true sense of care for their community, this conversation allows for a greater customer experience and in return you will have a larger community to serve as they spread the word about the wonderful good or service that you so wholeheartedly provide.

-Tinashe Hwande

(edited by Tayla M. Hasselbach)

Problems are Opportunities.

Would you believe me if told you that every single problem is nothing more than an opportunity in disguise? I believe that the first creation of anything came from somebody complaining about something. I can see it now: our primitive ancestors grunting and groaning about the lack of light in the night skies. While the entire tribe grunted on, night after night, one chose to do something about it and WOOP all of a sudden there was fire.

Ok maybe it didn’t go exactly like that, but I’m sure that it wasn’t far off. Every successful and even failed business was most likely created in the hopes of solving some problem. Nike was created as a comfortable shoe to run in and google as a way to look up weird sh** and find information in a fast, vast and efficient manner. Whole Foods was created for the purpose of making organic produce the norm and Taco Bell was created to keep your backside on a toilet seat for the next 30 minutes. For better or for worse, every company that you see around you solves some kind of problem for somebody; some of these problems being the product of the mind.

When you look at the true definition of an entrepreneur, it is somebody that lives their life solving other people’s problems. A complaint to them is nothing more than an opportunity. Many people fail in business due to their intention. If a business is created because somebody simply wants to be freed from the corporate matrix then only one person’s problem is being solved. This is selfish by nature and selfishness is an impossible foundation on which to build a successful organization.

Problem solving is not only an empathetic way of relating to your fellow humans but also a practical way of operating business. If you decide to create something that nobody has a need for or maybe the hundredth thing within a certain marketplace, then you will go nowhere. For every one Chipotle there are a million different taquerias that are open and closed each year. The difference with Chipotle and the other taquerias is not their product, but the service in which they deliver the product. They focused on creating an experience of efficiency that had never been done within their industry and this was something people were willing to pay for.

When you create a business simply on the basis that YOU love it, yet it does not aid others, it will become the problem; and a very expensive one at that. Even if the most self-centered, egotistical individual wants to create a business, they must begin to think about others first. Organization building is a selfless act within itself and is usually destroyed in the management process when a CEO with more ego than heart is put in charge. I digress. As the founder, your job is to find other people’s problems and then some. Unless you’re living in Perfectopolus, this world will never run out of problems and people will never run out of complaints.  

There are little segments within your own business that you often see as a problem or a burden; these are the same pinpoints that someone with a true entrepreneurial mind would see as a unique opportunity. When Warby Parker realized how inconvenient and expensive buying new spectacles was, they did not sit around and complain about how unfair the system was but instead looked to solve the problem.

Though figures like Martin Luther King and Gandhi were not “entrepreneurs” per say, they had the same spirit as one; they led organizations that solved some of the largest systemic problems in known history. They saw how unjustly certain humans were being treated, but unlike a majority of us, they chose to be a part of the solution and create the change that would leave lasting effects for generations to come.

No woman, man, nor child is born ingrained with such a mindset; it is something that must be picked up, taught, and practiced diligently. In a society full of negative chatter, we must not indulge in this practice but rather put on the lenses of a problem solver, one who seeks to find a way and not just accept the reality they have they were handed.

Tinashe Hwande

(edited by Tayla M. Hasselbach)