Wednesday Words

To Go Where Your VisionPoints, a few inspiration points for you and your business.

Ralph Lauren has always stood for providing quality products, creating worlds and inviting people to take part in our dream. We were the innovators of lifestyle advertisements that tell a story and the first to create stores that encourage customers to participate in that lifestyle.
—Ralph Lauren

You don’t have to like Ralph Lauren’s dream. But I’m betting that almost all of my readers, almost anywhere in the world you may be reading this, know what that dream lifestyle is. It happens that Ralph Lauren, a scrappy little guy from the Bronx, hitched his wagon to a dream many folks have, and staying incredibly focused on that image for the company made him a billionaire.

We don’t buy Ralph Lauren. Not the scrappy Jewish kid, not the dreamer, not the climber, not today’s 69-year-old billionaire.

We don’t buy clothes. You can get those at WalMart.

We buy youth and leisure and effortless elegance and a romantic past we have nostalgia for without ever having lived it, because Ralph, that savvy businessman, made his Vision as pervasive as the air we breathe, all around the world. He never lets up.

“I’m no billionaire, Kelly. People buy me!”

Tell that to Ralph R. Lifshitz, tie salesman in his 1950s Bronx high school, who’d soon change his name to Lauren and start a little tie company lifestyle brand named Polo.

We’ve talked about it a lot here, but a recent conversation at Men With Pens got me thinking about Vision and Purpose all over again.

Even when your business is as small as young Ralph’s, people don’t buy you.

No. They don’t.

They buy the story you tell, the lifestyle you’ll help them achieve—even if it’s as simple as “Joe’s Cat Litter gives me more time in my day to enjoy my neglected husband.” Joe’s Cat Litter=Peaceful Love Nest. You’ve got to know your Vision backward and forward, then you have to tell me. And I’ve got to believe the story.

If you’re really lucky and really talented, you might tell a story we already deeply want to believe, like Ralph did. It’s no 1960s bygone fantasy. People do it all the time. Like Christian Lander does. Like Naomi Dunford does. Like Barack Obama did. They’re telling stories we want to believe.

The alternative? If you don’t define yourself, your customer will. And they might get it “wrong.”

Find your Vision. Tell your ONE story, every day, in all your customer interactions. Do your damnedest to find a story you have a unique angle on, that we already deeply want to believe, and hitch your wagon to it.

Simple, huh?


Grow and be well,

Kelly Erickson