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A Place for Joy – in Business?


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I have pretty amazing friends

Not long ago I invited some friends to support me in making a long-time dream of mine come true. In my letter, I explained what I wanted them to do, and I suggested four things that were in it for them if they helped:

  • Joy.
  • Curiosity. (“Can she do it?” “What’s it like to learn a new instrument?”)
  • Regular updates.
  • Music! I promised them a concert at the end of six months.

I invited about 95 people. I expected four or five to respond.

35 people pledged their support.

That’s right, thirty-five.

In marketing terms, that’s a 37% conversion rate.

I was shocked and amazed. Blown away!

So, I’m learning to play the banjo. (So far I know eight chords, I’m on my way to mastering one finger-picking pattern, and I’ve already created my own lick.)

I started wondering…

Once I got over the shock and awe, I started wondering. What the heck had I said that inspired them to respond in such droves? Granted, I have pretty amazing friends, many of whom have supported me in a variety of ways for years. Others among this group I confess I don’t know as well.

What the heck had I done to get a 37% conversion rate? And could I apply it to my business?

Maybe I just have amazing friends

At first I chalked it up to their being my friends and generally cool people. But in the small-business marketing circles I’m in, there’s a lot of talk about finding your “right people” (which is even more targeted than “target audience”). In marketing terms, I clearly found my Right People – at least for this.

Was there more to it?

I tried to leave it at that. But being the curious person that I am, I couldn’t stop wondering: Was there more to it? So I asked some of the people who had stepped up: What was it that inspired them?

I got two main responses (from everyone I asked):

Joy.

And they get to help make a dream come true.

That they responded with “Joy” didn’t really surprise me, since I had put that in the letter. (Although I was really pleased that it so appealed to them.) But I didn’t really think that would help me much with my business; after all, Joy isn’t something you hear about that much in the business world.

That they leapt at the chance to help make a dream come true didn’t surprise me much either, because they are all extraordinary people. What is interesting is that I didn’t use those words in my letter. But I had written a compelling message, so that aspect came through.

How awesome is that? But I didn’t think that would help me much in my business either, because people aren’t going to give me their business so that they can make MY dreams come true.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it

I still couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I remembered how I had heard Rich Sheridan, the founder of Menlo Innovations, say that it was his goal to for his people to be joyful at work. Maybe, I thought, that isn’t such a foreign concept after all.

If it’s not about joy, what is it about?

The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Curiosity, wonder, employee engagement, courage, drawing people out, bringing people together… if it’s not about joy, what is it about?

So when someone asked me a few days ago what business I’m in, I explained that I am a small business consultant and coach, and I work with individuals and small business to identify the obstacles that are holding them back and work over, under, around, or through them … (and I went out on a limb here) so they can get the joy back in what they do.

Wow! She started telling me all about her business and how she’s lost the joy and what her big struggle is. Amazing.

A few days later a gentleman asked me about my business, and I told him the same thing. He’d been taking notes, but he lit up and really started scribbling when I talked about getting the joy back.

And he hired me.

A place for joy in business

Maybe there is a place for talking about joy in business. There is certainly a place for joy in our lives, and small business people often pick their our businesses because what they we do gives them us joy. And when we lose that it’s a sad thing.

I get a lot of joy from talking to people about what they do, what they would like to do better, and working with them to do that. It’s not the only thing that brings me joy, but it sure is a part of my work. Joy is contagious. And working with people to bring back their joy – or to find it for the first time – now that’s a dream come true.

What brings you joy – in your life, or in your work? Is it missing? Let’s find it.

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7 Responses to A Place for Joy – in Business?

  1. Square-Peg Karen June 8, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Woo hoo! Love this. I think there’s something here too, about how we ARE when we’re talking about joy.

    I remember, a few years ago, joining Molly Gordon’s online forum because she & the other forum members (though business people) talked like *people* – their joy shone out (as opposed to talking biz-talk, professional-speak – which is so dry and un-people like, to me, that I can barely take a minute of it).

    Point being: I don’t think we can talk about joy without being VERY people-y – and THAT attracts people.

  2. Susan T. Blake June 8, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks Karen! That’s a great point – it does attract people. It IS contagious!

  3. SilverMagpies June 8, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    I’m pretty sure people can feel the joy I take in my business! lol

    It always makes a difference when you speak with someone who LOVES what they do. Even if it’s something you personally have no interest in, you often get entranced by their enthusiasm.

  4. Susan T. Blake June 8, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    Yes, Nan, the joy you take in working with beautiful things, making life more beautiful, and sharing that with others is definitely palpable!

    You’re right, it’s hard not to be entranced by someone who LOVES what they do.

  5. There’s a reason Catherine Caine named her site ‘Cash AND Joy’ (emphasis mine).

    I’m so relieved to discover that joy has a place in the biz world too. It’s not something we were taught – it’s about time that changes. 🙂

    Good Fortune on the banjo-learning! 🙂
    Maybe you’ll share a bit on the blog too?

  6. Susan June 14, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Hi Birdy, yes, it is a relief, isn’t it? I agree, it’s time for that to change. Yet another revolution – or part of a larger one, perhaps…

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