I read a survey recently which stated that since the Coronavirus crisis hit CEO's trust ratings have plummeted. Yet, terrifyingly enough, just a few months ago the same survey revealed that companies were more trusted than politicians (kind of a low bar) and the media (kinda no bar).
It seems that Coronavirus exposes people to a special little nano virus that not only attacks our lungs but also forces us to reveal who we really are. More warts than all. While politicians run around like a headless chicken and the media reminds us of the meaning of vanity (who in friggs name stays on air from home all red faced and bleary eyed while self isolating with the Corona) and, it seems, CEO's are all about optimising....., well, really just one thing - their bank balance.
Sadly much of modern day capitalism has created a convenient scam which makes it legit for pretty much any CEO to be focused on one thing and one thing only - making them the money. Neoliberal for 'SHOW ME THE MONEEEEEYYY!!'. Placing the passion for great products, customer service and inventions on the scrap heap named Wall Street - all too easily bus chucked in the name of Warren stiffin’ Buffett. And think about it, do you really want to be Warren? But don't get me wrong, his cash is super handy for Bill and Melinda.
Maybe it no longer needs to be that way. Maybe Corona won't just kill all of us, more importantly it will kill neoliberalism. It'll nuke the greedy ass CEO. Make a Dodo of Warren.
Still wanna be Warren?
And maybe then we'll be clear to start again, to find a next gen capitalist model where new style CEO’s follow a different path, a better path, you know, where they become Jacinda Ardern. And more than that maybe the new, new CEO will fuse Jacinda, Trevor Noah and James-I'll-drive-you-anywhere-so-long-as-you-crack-out-some-nice-ass-tune-Corden all mixed up with a smidgen of Charlie Chaplin. Empathy and ethics combined with humour and slap stick. With more slap than stick and no slap and tickle because that'd be like Harvey Weinstein and look how it worked out for him.
Maybe the new CEO school should teach leaders that so long as they ALWAYS put people first then profits will follow. No longer profits first in the vain hope that people might follow. And putting people first means making them laugh, or cry, or just talk. You know like Oprah did. Where CEO's leave the finances to finance people, the data science to data scientists, leave the engineering to engineers, the marketing to marketers, the backhanders to politicians and just focus on the people. By treating customers and employees as ACTUAL people. And treating them like people means treating them like a close friend, a bestie (just not in the Harvey Weinstein kinda way).
Soon it’ll be the done thing to treat colleagues as actual, real life ‘friends’. Where you get your advice from Joey or Rachel instead of McKinsey or Bain and where not everything is in the name of business but where it's about the mates (the friends, not the baby stoppers). New business hipsters will be focused on making friends to make money and I don't mean a new season of Friends though that would be nice too.
Imagine if reopening post Covid-19 lockdown meant fewer employees dragged into packed offices, wharehouses, factories or foosballs (thanks Google). Where office politics gets kicked into touch. Where Jerry Maguire was right all along and fewer customers with deeper relationships really is the best way forward. Where the new company bible means we get to generate a bit less cash while becoming a lot more successful.
Where we get to spend more time enjoying empathy, ethics, humour and the sheer dream of one day finally hitting the pub again. Where every day on the job is fun and fruitful, emotional and valuable, loving and luxurious. Just like a day on the set of Baywatch. Where all of a sudden everyone's your friend and they visit you all the time, you know, to make sure they also get on the set of Baywatch. Where it's like grabbing a drink with your best buddies, not drinking the cool aid but swigging real alcohol and speaking it like it is. Yep, where every day's another Guinness ad.
As we reopen think about replacing the word customer or employee with 'friend'. You'll need as many friends as you can get. Ditch the customer toilet signs or customer loyalty programmes. It's the friends cafe and friend parking. Designing the new office layout is simple, just copy the set of 'Friends'. With couches and weird leather chairs and kitchens and cafes and terraces. Where you show up every day just for the laughs. Where your customer ratings soar because they're from actual friends like they were last time around, just more legit this time. Where you get to write a new script every day. Where people show up because they want to. And where Chandler finally feels truly at home.
Now that really would be a new norm. That might even be worth breaking out of lockdown loonies, donning the hazmat suit, getting back on a train and actually showing up to work.
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