The most meaningful competitive advantage is
To scale your ability to care
Caring at scale is a clear competitive advantage because so many people out there pretend to care.
It probably would be easy to scale caring if you have a LOT of money. It would be easy, yes, but one should still decide to do it. When you have a LOT of money, it is also easy to not care about anything. Thankfully, there are a number of amazing people (e.g.: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet etc.) who are wealthy and also have a big heart to scale caring.
We both agree that LOT of money makes scaling a moot point.
What can you do when you don’t have that kind of money but you choose to scale caring?
If the above question interests you, then you might find the rest of the article relevant.
Let’s get started:
1. It all starts with the right intentions:
This may sound like some woo-woo stuff but it’s not. It is at the core of scaling – the intentions or the why of caring. If you are thinking of using caring as some shortcut to gain something, you have lost the plot. It rarely works that way and not just that, it would also be a painful journey where you will constantly feel like you are sacrificing something for a future benefit.
On the other hand, if your joy is in bringing joy to others genuinely, what you do stops feeling like “work” and it is also where the magic begins.
Just to be clear, I am not suggesting that your intentions “to care for others” should come at the expense of “caring for you and your family.” There is no need for self-sacrifice or martyrdom. If you are not standing on a steady ground AND if you are not growing, sooner than later you won’t have the capacity to care for others even if you have the purest intentions.
2. The one thing to remember
Next, you and I have limited memory (that we use) and while you can remember a LOT of things about LOT of people, the one thing that matters most is what matters most to them – what they deeply care about.
Do a quick self-audit about 25 people that you feel deeply connected to. Do you REALLY know that they care about most? Do you know what their hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears?
Or, are you happy to know their birthdays and anniversaries?
Actually scratch that – you don’t have to remember that anymore as Facebook will alert you on these “important” events and you can quickly post something on their timeline and move on with your life.
Jokes apart, if you don’t know what someone deeply cares about, how can you care about them? It’s going to be a non-starter and setup for failure.
Now, what is the meaning of remembering? You should not treat this as a safekeeping mechanism to be reviewed somewhere in the future but to actually keep this in your foreground thinking every time you encounter something or someone that can positively impact what matters most to them.
How to extend this even further?
Sooner than later, you will find a group of people who will share some characteristics (e.g.: entrepreneurs or knowledge workers or dentists). Pick one or more groups where you can make the biggest impact. Now extend by thinking through what that group as a whole will care about. What are top three things that will keep them awake?
3. Master leverage like it’s your birthright
It would take a lot more than a blog post to cover leverage but it starts with a mindset of design to get multiple positive outcomes for multiple people with a choreographed sequence of actions.
You’re trained to think about focus and going after one result. It is good but with a slight twist, you could design for results + positive side benefits.
A quick example:
You could design a blog post that will later become a part of the book. The content from the blog post can be part of a video. Extract the audio and it could be a podcast. Put a few slides and it could become a short presentation that you can share. I can go on and if you are too busy for a small fee a virtual assistant based elsewhere can do the repurposing part for you.
[ Note: Check out my course on this topic called “The Art of Leverage” ]
4. Design for partial autonomy
The most valuable asset you have is next available autonomous block of time.
We both know that we get reasonable autonomy with wealth. What can you do until then to be reasonably autonomous?
Answer: You start designing for it right from where you are.
It starts when people around you really NEED (not want) what you have to offer to the world AND they don’t care how you deliver it to them. They trust you that if you are handling it, it will get DONE in a reasonable timeframe with a better-than-average quality. If you can start there, you are on your way to building autonomy.
What will you do when you have that autonomous time on your hand?
To start with, it falls under two broad buckets:
1. Activities that will enhance the capacity of others to produce and care more
2. An investment in your own capacity to produce and care more in the future.
Being autonomous is not a destination point or an award that you are bestowed with. It is an ongoing journey where you re-calibrate to be relevant and valuable in changing times.
5. Design built-in amplifiers
You and I will leave our footprints in this world every single day just by the way we live. They are not outcomes that happen after a five-year project. It could be a simple blog post, a seminar that you delivered, a 1-1 meeting with a young student, an interview where you were quizzed about your values and beliefs and so on.
If you have packed enough value in any of the above, people who have been touched by them will benefit from it right away. But you could go one step further. You could take a few more minutes of your time to see how you could design what you deliver that includes built-in amplifiers.
I don’t have the time to cover the entire details here but you could start by understanding 9 ways people respond to content online.
6. Use the right tools
You and I both are benefiting from the evolution of available tools all the time. In fact, if a tool like WordPress was not available, publishing the article that you are reading would have been a nightmare. It would have taken more time, more money, more energy, more convincing to get it out of my head and into your hands. It seems simple now, but I had to take the plunge and embrace this new tool in 2005. if I had not, I would have not only missed the opportunity to share my thinking easily but also all the relationships that I have formed because of my blogging.
Earlier this year, I embraced using our own product from our new startup WittyParrot. It used to take me a lot of times to respond to my emails before I started using WittyParrot but now it takes me 1/10th of the time. Why? Because all the reusable content blocks (a piece of text, ebooks, blog article snippets, audio, video etc.) that we call wits are stored and available to me via the WittyParrot content delivery platform. Because the 80-20 rule applies here, 80% of the time I am reusing content items in one way or the other. Now, instead of trying to search, find, copy and paste, I assemble my email responses by dragging and dropping wits from the WittyParrot side bar. The direct result is that I am able to care and help more people than what I used to before I started using WittyParrot. Watch the launch video and if you are interested to learn more, tell me a little bit more about yourself in an email to me.
Our new book (written along with my close friend Bill Sherman) is all about one such habit – The Impact Habit that will significantly increase the impact you are making in this world.
I can go on but in summary all I can say is that tools have played a major role in everything I do. When I meet really bright people who have not embraced the latest tools that are available, I feel sorry twice – first for them because they are not capitalizing on what’s available and second, for the world – this knowledge could have helped make this a better place by a tiny bit. Now add this up for every one of the experts that are out there in the world and you can see the collective loss for the world – all just because they chose not to embrace the new tools that are made available.
Now, my request to you is that you should always be open to trying any and every tool that will provide leverage without increasing your cost (significantly) to get that leverage. If after trying the tool for a while you feel that you are not comfortable, you can abandon using it but not trying it is to shy away from the responsibility.
7. Ecosystems and Choreography
I saved this for the last because the combination is ultra-powerful. The ecosystem I am referring to is a set of people that you have built a close enough relationship that they are almost part of your family. You and I know that we cannot “order” such an ecosystem into existence. You get such a thing when you have partially mastered scaling of “caring.”
You can light a thousand candles in the same time that someone will struggle to light half a dozen. If you can do that, you start a virtuous cycle of building good obligations and slowly and steadily you cultivate an ecosystem that is like a fortress.
Now, building an ecosystem is only part 1 of the story. Part 2 is to be able to choreograph a compelling act that will bring the right players in the ecosystem to create more meaning to the world WHILE creating more meaning to the lives of the players who are participating in that act.
For your choreography to be successful, both have to happen – more meaning in the world AND more meaning in the lives of participants from the ecosystem.
If you can get there, you have the most meaningful competitive advantage!