HGTV is my form of meditation. When I need a break from the world, I can always count on them to whisk me away for a couple hours of remodels, renovations and real estate purchases that leave me wondering what, exactly, a 23-year-old couple does that affords them the ability to buy a $700,000 vacation home in Belize. (I hear I’m not alone in this.) If there is one thing HGTV has taught me over the years, it’s the importance of a solid foundation. Let’s be honest. In a world of drawer pulls, lighting fixtures and “smart toilets,” foundations are blah at best. Unseen and unsexy, they’re sort of the girdle of home ownership. But it turns out they’re super important.
Here’s the thing: you can build a lovely home on a bad foundation. You might even be able to live there for years before it becomes evident something is wrong, but eventually you will have to confront reality. And when you do, it will be messy, costly and painful.
Yesterday I read an article about a brand I love. The headline was, unquestionably, one of the worst things I could ever imagine someone saying about a brand: “I Do Not Know On Person Who is Happy at Amazon.” The letter was penned by a current employee with hopes of casting a light on the reality behind the scenes at Amazon. (Suddenly those happy face boxes aren’t seeming to happy.) Sure, it’s possible it’s the handiwork of a disgruntled employee, but I don’t think so. These are the kinds of brutally honest things people send up as a flare when they have a clear vision of what could be, not when they’ve given up.
“Everyone has a time table for quitting. No one says, “I hope I stay here forever.”
“Man, there are smart people here. But they are also smart enough to know that they have been had. That is the thing with smart people, they have high expectations of their work place.”
“As incredible as this company is, it’s hard to imagine how much more powerful it could be if anyone here, more than the odd few, were happy.”
Your internal people (and culture) are the foundation of your brand. Sure, it’s tempting to fast forward to paint colors and flooring — the things that the outside world sees on a daily basis — rather than really investing in the basics. It’s fun to build a beautiful house, but if you want to build something successful and sustainable — focus on building a strong foundation. Start from within.