The business of being human or being human in business

This new blog entry is a little bit different compared to the previous ones. It delves into business, but the one that has to do with our human condition.

It’s about the business of being human. We can put it like that.

It wouldn’t surprise us if you are overwhelmed by the amount of content related to artificial intelligence or Brexit.

Some days we are too. Let’s take a break, then. We deserve it.

But to do this, we also don’t want to reinvent the wheel. Why should we when recycling good ideas is not an exercise in laziness but one of acknowledgement and sharing.  

That’s why, to put together this article, we’ve taken five valuable business reflections from Antonio Ranucci, one of our young PwC ambassadors.

Restless-minded, curious and with a sober but contagious positivism attenuated with life experiences, Antonio writes “pills” once or twice a week on his LinkedIn profile.

What he wants, he told us, is to elicit reflection on what being human is within the context of today, when technology disruption, uncertainty and mistrust in business and governments, diametrically opposite points of view on climate change, geopolitical secession, and, you name it, are winning the battle for the spotlight.

So can you navigate this global labyrinth? You can start by following these five pieces of advice. The only person that can impeach you for inaction is yourself.

Advice 1: Fight the fear of meeting new clients with… silence!

When you visit a new client, do you start breathing like Darth Vader because you’re too nervous?

Or, maybe, you comically slipped and fell on the ground more than once, in a Matrix-like style but without the charm and the “humility” of Keanu Reeves, when you went to an important meeting?

Then maybe I can help you. Being nervous when you meet a new client is perfectly normal, but a few simple rules to fall back on can give us the calmness needed to conquer hearts and spirits.

We must forget what we think we know. Yes, we studied many years and now we feel like the world is waiting for us. Well, truth is it isn’t (thank God! who would like that kind of responsibility, anyway?) Remember, the Earth rotates on its axis, the sun still rises up in the sky, and we are just a beautiful grain of dust in the desert.

The people we will talk to know the business much more than us. Isn’t their organisation after all? However, they have called us because they need support on something. To help them, we have to understand the intricacies of their needs. Next, listen, smile and speak your wisdom only when asked. Active listening and keeping smartly silent are best pals in this situation.

Avoid reacting to critics in a negative way. Criticism is a present in an ugly, commonly unsexy box.

Advice 2: Honesty boost sales.

Often, this is a misconception of our work. We’re not here to sell anything. We’re here to make things come to life.

Bear in mind this example. A client calls us. She presents to us her pain points and her vision of what things should look like. As advisors, we are there to give her our take on the problem, to agree on a solution or an opportunity to catch. Only then could the idea begin to come alive.

The next step may or may not involve our intervention, though. Because in reality, we aren’t there to sell something if it is not strictly needed for the issue at hand. A good consultant doesn’t sell, a good consultant solves problems.

When only looking at sales with a short-term perspective, people destroy value, waste a potentially healthy client relationship and impact trust in its broadest sense.

Want to be great? Be honest with clients. Sales will follow.

Advice 3: Start giving or continue doing so

Do you want to be successful or be larger than life and all that stuff?

Start giving, seriously. Egoism is not going to bring any long-term value.

Here’s my reasoning: most of us are influenced by an unavoidable reality: one day we will vanish. We’re scared of death.

So, we need to feel somehow special in our short lives. Even more than special, we often need to feel “better than the others”.

When we try to “play the clever” on others, however, we really play for a fool.

So while we want to come off looking like Tyrion Lannister, with this behaviour we will end up being Joffrey, you know, the person that most Game of Thrones followers hated.

Look around. People are walking down the road of life with you. If it isn’t that easy for you, it isn’t easy for them either.

They’re the best thing you’ve got here on this planet.

So start giving or continue doing so. Be useful to others, and that includes your clients. Good things may happen to you if you are sincere and kind.

Long-term egoism is like playing on the stock market. Let’s face it, there’s one Warren Buffett and all the rest lose money (that’s why you should go for passive funds as Tony Robbins suggests).

Be kind.

Advice 4: Being the business guy “next door” is good

Oh yeah, I know what you’re thinking.

We all celebrate incredible leaders, outstanding people that change the world, with their intelligent prose or their meaningful actions. But that has a downside: we often believe that only greatness has value.

We tend to lose the sense of who we are to favor who we should be.

The truth is “here we are”, and we should not ignore the wonderful, romantic and routine moments of our lives.

The coffee in the morning with our partner.

That strange laugh that our friend does when he or she is nervous.

Our parents that call us because of a computer problem.

Our pet waiting for its belly to be scratched.

In moments of pain and sadness, because unfortunately these moments happen, I would have paid gold for one of these “average” moments.

Average is good. Simple is beautiful.

Don’t underestimate it.

Advice 5: When hiring, consider the human (because you’re a human)

It’s about being, as odd as it sounds, a good person.

The more we get into a world where technology thrives, the greater our physical and even intelligence-related assets will be replicated. A convenient mix of algorithms and transistors will look like better versions of ourselves.

What will make us different, then? Our human experience. We still have the power of the blood, the incredible combination of countless factors that make up life and make us different — fortunately— from one another.

An algorithm cannot get to that for the moment. We’re still a long way to get there.

Do you want to hire amazing professionals? Consider their technical skills, of course, but never forget to assess their soft skills.

Being human cannot be learnt. All the rest can.

Have you thought that the time-lapse between the moment you start recruiting and the moment you finally find the candidate, is enough to make the technical skill you are seeking already obsolete?

Human qualities are here to stay instead. Societies often change at a slower pace than technologies and the new competencies they require. And, somehow, that’s a good thing.

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