One recent addition to the entrepreneurship and business books category is “Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit at the World’s Greatest Companies,” by Jim Stengel, the former head of marketing at P & G. In the book, Stengel claims that today’s business environment requires business leaders to focus on a set of ideals, or their “true reason for being.” In essence, he replaces such concepts as “mission” and “vision” with the word “ideals.”
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And just to be clear, ideals don’t necessarily have to be tied to charitable giving. Instead, ideals address one of five areas of “fundamental human value.” These are: eliciting joy, enabling connection, inspiring exploration, evoking pride and impacting society. From Jack Daniels to Pampers to Zappos, Lindt and more, each brand’s success is driven by a set of ideals and a focus on improving people’s lives. And who would argue about Lindt bringing us joy? In the book Stengel references success stories such as the Discovery Channel whose “ideal” is to “satisfy people’s curiosity.” He also says that Pampers’ ideal is not so much about selling diapers as it is about helping mothers. Stengel outlines the difference between the Time-Life series of publications that stagnated because the brand focused on what it wanted to give to people rather than on what people wanted from it. This is contrasted with National Geographic which successfully migrated from print to broadcast. Stengel notes that, “ideals cannot be proprietary, but distinctive ways of fulfilling them can be.” During his time at P & G, Stengel says he successfully brought back the slogan “Choosy mothers choose Jif,” even though the company had abandoned it. The slogan reflects that the brand is solving a problem for mothers who are concerned about what their children consume. Not everyone is a fan of this book but it does have much food for thought for the seasoned or unseasoned entrepreneur.