This Business of Love

MH3 —  March 22, 2012

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?

Fear.

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.

Ready?

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.

11 responses to This Business of Love

  1. Awesome story. Will be sure to watch speech. My father also passed away a few years ago. I wear his watch almost every day. Something special about connecting to him, right where my pulse beats.

    PS the watch is a Concorde.

  2. My friends Dave & Joanne gave me a Steven Covey book (Daily Reflections for Highly Effective People) for a present when I started my company…in 1994!!!

    Today’s reflection read:
    Love is something you do: the giving of self, the sacrifices you make, even fir people who offend or do love in return. Love is a value that is actualized through loving actions.

  3. As always my friend, a lovely story! You continue to amaze me with your skill with the written word.

  4. When I arrived at the IEG Sponsorship Conference, I came with an open mind hoping to be inspired. Nothing could have prepared me for this tremendous experience.

    Mark, thank you for sharing my personal story in such an eloquent and touching way. If anyone feels even a fraction of the inspiration I felt that day, my father would be tremendously proud.

    Thank you, Jason “John” Huang

  5. Mark, I love you Man! Beautiful story. Spoke to my heart. Well-written. And reminded me of my own father. I have been spending as many weekends with him as possible, as I know our time here together is not infinite. Every time I leave now, I tell him I love him.

    Yesterday two of my sisters visited my Mom and dad on Galiano island and helped them celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. Last night Dad called to tell me about their day. He was tickled. After we hung up, I emailed my sisters, thanked them for the joy they had brought my parents…and then I toasted my Dad with a Stella.

    Love, really is all you need…it is the meaning of life!

  6. Elizabeth Hodge March 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Hi Mark,
    Thank you for sharing!
    My long-standing passion in emotional intelligence is now taking it’s valuable place in the pragmatic business world we’ve know for decades. I believe that true success comes from the congruence of mind and heart together, never seperate, and leadership comes from the heart, influenced by the trained mind’s offerings.”You are only able to lead after you’ve touched someone’s heart.” Neuroplasticity and genetics research has changed the way we view our scientific history and beliefs.Referencing the great work in “Biology of Belief” Bruce Lipton and Greg Braden’s, “Bridging Science & spirituality.” Refocusing our beliefs on skill-sets leads us to understand, “What we thought was soft(skill-set,E.I) is actually hard and what we thought was hard (concrete “sciencific fact”?) is actually maliable.”
    Thank you for mentoring Nick. He is truly blessed to be in our “company”, both literally and figuratively.

  7. Hi Mark,
    Pleasure to meet you at last evening’s event. I was eager to find this blog and see how you would encompass Mr. Biver’s amazing keynote. Wow, well done! I was so inspired by his talk, and you’ve just refreshed that inspiration!
    Thank you for taking the time to write this so beautifully!

  8. This is really touching Mark!

  9. Mark – JCB’s speech was indeed inspirational, and genuine. I approached him afterwards, as John was holding out his smart phone to take a picture of the the two of them. I jumped in, and had the honor of taking the picture for them.