Business Advice From the Pope?

pope_bookI’ll admit it. The popular business book, “Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis” by Jeffrey Krames piqued my interest. The Pope is an inspiring man, but what the heck does he know about business? After all, he’s spent most of his life serving the church.

I was skeptical, but I settled in for the 140 page read anyway. Heck, if the book’s Jewish author was so inspired, maybe I could pick up a few words of wisdom. And I wasn’t disappointed.

I discovered that many of Pope Francis’ teachings are so basic that they apply to all areas of life—even the corporate world. Two of his “lessons” are particularly relevant to my work as a business marketer:

#4 – Don’t Change – Reinvent

The Pope teaches that drastic changes (rather than a steady stream of small modifications) are needed to break the church’s fixation with dated ideology. Likewise, businesses must make drastic changes to survive and stay relevant in today’s face-paced world, especially changes in marketing. A new strategy takes guts. A different “look and feel” takes guts. A bold advertising claim takes guts. But the greatest rewards – sales – come with these kinds of risks.

I am often frustrated with clients who keep taking the safe route with their marketing communications. New WOW ideas are instantly rejected or watered down. Vanilla is the only flavor that is ever approved. Their resulting marketing campaigns don’t offend anyone, but they certainly don’t inspire anyone or even attract attention. I’m going to fight harder for the bold ideas. And I’m going to remind my clients more often not to be afraid to reinvent!

#9 – Run Your Organization Like a Field Hospital

The Pope also instructs people to get out in the community and get involved in others’ lives in order to “heal wounds and warm hearts.” Likewise, business leaders (and marketers) need to spend time on the front lines—with customers and potential customers—to get the insights needed to relate their product or service to actual people’s needs in the workplace.

Without that basic understanding, which can’t come from analyzing reports and crunching numbers, messaging will be off target and marketing will fail. I’m going to remind myself more often that people don’t respond to clever words, images and designs. They respond to stories they relate to, people who inspire them and offers that address their pain points.

Thanks, Pope Francis…for reminding me that businesses are not faceless entities. They are collections of people working for a common cause. And motivation techniques work the same on people whether they are at church, at work, or at play.

Chris HenneghanChris is one of Schubert’s longest-standing employees, starting with the agency in 1987. She now serves as Senior Vice President and Brand Strategist. Chris is a Notre Dame grad and enjoys tennis, golf, hiking and reading.

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