Jay-Z Is Right: You’re Not a Businessman; You’re a Business, Man

When you’re empowered to be CEO of Me, Inc., there’s a tremendous impact on the overall business. Here’s how to think of it like a business, man.

By Kevin Warren, president, U.S. Large Enterprise Operations, Xerox

Jay-Z is one of my favorite performers, and he knows a thing or two about success. One line I borrow from him regularly: “I’m not a businessman … I’m a business, man!”

Kevin Warren
Kevin Warren, president, U.S. Large Enterprise Operations, Xerox

When you hand over your business card to a sales prospect, unless it says CEO of Me, Inc., it’s not your brand. You are your brand. They don’t buy the name of the business on the card, they buy you.

It’s a simple concept and a powerful opportunity – especially in an increasingly complex and digital world. We all know our clients and prospects are bombarded with many options. Competition is fierce. But at the end of the day people make decisions and surrender long-term loyalty based on interactions with people. According to McKinsey’s 2012 B2B Branding Survey, personal interactions with sales reps remain the most influential factor for  B2B customers—across touch points, industries and regions.

When you’re empowered to be CEO of Me, Inc., there’s a tremendous impact on the overall business – interactions with customers become more meaningful, the corporate brand becomes more human, and that focus on customers starts impacting the bottom line.

Here’s how to think of it like a business, man:

  • Make your supply chain a well-oiled machine: You must carefully choose and cultivate relationships with the people who deliver your products, solutions.  Your outputs have to be choreographed to ensure on-time delivery.
  • Ensure growth with strong finance and administration: Over achieve your plan.  Focus on short-term and long-term gains simultaneously.  Look for ways to contain costs and generate cash.
  • Display your human resources to differentiate yourself: Your human capital is your most precious asset.  Make the most of it with something I call the Success Triangle.
    1. Performance: Consistency is key; likewise, the ability to solve problems and overcome obstacles; if you don’t deliver, the file is closed.
    2. Behavior: This is all about your ability to work with others to achieve common goals.  To be part of a team, you have to embrace a “we” versus “me” mentality.
    3. Development: Talent development is not optional in a winning sales culture. Acquire experience, knowledge, skills and abilities for today and tomorrow.
  • Be a change agent through research and development: Listen carefully and ask good questions. Drill deep to understand your customers’ business goals.
  • Earn loyalty with sales and marketing: Envision what you want your brand to represent of Me, Inc.. Then build and reinforce your image; treat it as sacred.

Success as CEO of Me, Inc.  doesn’t just happen, it is the outcome of a formula that works – one that is evolving as digital and social change the game. But the foundation holds fast. We may not close deals by knocking on doors or dialing for dollars anymore, but at the end of the day –at the end of the business exchange – is a person. A person that is only going to choose your brand if they choose you.

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4 Comments

  1. Pamela December 13, 2013 - Reply

    So true:
    “But the foundation holds fast. We may not close deals by knocking on doors or dialing for dollars anymore, but at the end of the day –at the end of the business exchange – is a person. A person that is only going to choose your brand if they choose you.”

  2. Pamela Rodgers January 5, 2014 - Reply

    The hand of the dilligent maketh rich.

  3. Trish January 7, 2014 - Reply

    This is so true – think back to every experience you’ve ever had – good, bad or ugly, and you always remember the circumstance and the person – regardless of whether they are in person, at the end of a phone or a computer – we should all try to remember this, not just in business, but in personal interactions as well

  4. Mae Bryant February 5, 2014 - Reply

    Excellent subject, delivered easily, straight forward and to the point.
    Thanks for the pep talk, Mr. Warren

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