I don’t know if I have ever told you I’m afraid of flying.
Probably an odd thing for me to type on my iPad while winging over Lake Michigan on my way home from the 2012 IEG Conference. This aversion could be the result of a virtual Bermuda triangle of angst. Afraid of heights. Germaphobe. Claustrophobic. What are the technical terms for fear of flying and a fear of heights?
It can paralyze individuals, families and societies. Ditto for employees, leaders and corporations.
I once read a simple quote that declared: LOVE, is the absence of fear. Perhaps that should have been the title of Hublot’s Jean-Claude Biver’s rapturing keynote speech on Tuesday. It wasn’t a speech about sponsorship. It was a speech about SHARING, FORGIVING and RESPECTING.
SHARING. FORGIVING. RESPECTING. These are the three values that guide how Hublot conducts itself as a company. Simple. Clear. Admirable.
SHARING. FORGIVING. RESPECTING. These are the three tenets that comprise Biver’s personal religion. Inspirational. Contagious. Fantastic.
SHARING. FORGIVING. RESPECTING. These are the three principles that allow the employees who work for Biver and Hublot to thrive. Comforting. Encouraging. Motivating.
Hublot has built an enviable business around these three words. By encouraging senior management to share their knowledge and expertise with staff. By forgiving mistakes, as long as they are not repeated. By showing respect to colleagues and listening to input from all sources. Their leader has built a corporate culture truly built on love. They have built business partnerships on the same premise. They have built brand love, on love.
IEG this year was obsessive about love between consumers and brands. P&G had a remarkable presentation on their Olympic Moms campaign. Their Special Olympics ad execution teared up my table. VICE demonstrated how understanding what youth love can turn a little Canadian media startup into a global powerhouse. Coke did the best job of showing how love can be at the center of the proposition of the world’s most valuable brand.
If you can, watch the video of Hublot’s speech. You will love it. You will love him. Maybe you will love me for telling you about it.
But what you won’t see on the video is what happened after the speech. Now this next part is a true love story.
When Biver opened his speech, he asked that if anyone in the audience was wearing a Hublot, to visit him at the end of the presentation and he would donate $10,000 to the charity of their choice for every Hublot owner in the room. Wow, a bold statement in a room of 1,200 people. But the watches do retail for $20,000 to $5 million. Yes, $5 million for a watch!
The only Hublot owner present was a young Canadian delegate who I have known for a few years. Let’s call him John. If he wants to share his real name, he can comment on this blog.
Last year, John’s father passed away unexpectedly and suddenly. John was extremely close to his father. Extremely. As part of a family tradition, when the father dies the elder son is given a watch from the family as a memorial. Usually, John’s family had gifted Omegas, but for unknown reasons John’s uncle switched it up to a Hublot. As John watched the speech and heard the offer, he was understandably emotional. But the best was yet to come.
John approached Biver after the speech. Biver loved John’s story and confirmed he would gladly donate $10,000 in the name of John’s father to a charity of the family’s choosing. He posed for a photo, asked John to call him, and encouraged him to stay in touch.
For John, it was the most emotional experience imaginable. I saw him minutes after this occurred. He was shaking. Almost spent from the encounter. A golden memory.
I love what Biver did for John. I’m sure John loves him for what he did. But I just love that he is truly authentic and not slinging some BS at us because IEG gave him the floor for an hour of my time. I’ve just broken out into goose bumps recounting this story for you.
I know it’s hard to feel the same, but I want you to do a little exercise for me. Read the rest of this blog. Then close your eyes, repeat the final two paragraphs in your head, and imagine John talking to Biver about his father’s grave. Imagine the emotion of opening up to a total stranger. Then, open your eyes and imagine telling the next person you see that you love them.
The crux of Biver’s keynote is that LOVE is essential in all business dealings. He considers all partnerships marriages. He won’t sign a celebrity unless he and they have personal chemistry. He asserts that if you love your employees, they will have no fear to make mistakes. If they make mistakes, it means they are trying new things. Trying new things is essential for business growth. In conclusion, love is all you need to succeed in business.
The gravestone marking John’s father’s resting place bears the following inscription: All You Need is Love.