“I got it”, said Ross. “Got what?”, I replied. “You are selling vitamins not painkillers line” “Say what?”, I responded.
Ross is a good friend who did an MBA at the Berkeley Haas School of Business. Being right beside Silicon Valley, Berkeley takes entrepreneurship and business building seriously and it’s part of the legend that you don’t want to build a business that sells vitamins, but instead sells painkillers. Here is what he taught me.
Vitamins are things you ‘should‘ take. Their benefit is in the future and is somewhat opaque. Who knows if your good health is due to vitamins or any one of a number of other things?
However you take a painkiller because you ‘have’ to. Something hurts and you want it to go away. When you take a painkiller, it’s clear that the painkiller made it go away, nothing opaque about that!
With businesses there are lots of things that we should do, services we should buy. However it is far easier to sell the things that people and companies have to buy. Therefore we get the Berkeley legend of it’s better to sell painkillers not vitamins.
So, we are in the business of leadership development and it is probably more in the vitamin camp. At Adeption and JumpShift we have a very good, evidence-based vitamin, but still a vitamin. A should.
However things are changing. The world is getting more complex and more volatile. Automation and AI are taking away the easy jobs that don’t require lots of leadership (from everyone). Finally add in a pandemic, and other massive instabilities – maybe leadership development is becoming a must. As another friend once said to me, “Carl, Leadership development is still a vitamin, it’s just the world has got scurvy and that changes everything”.
Hint – if you don’t get the wisdom of his comment check this out
This is where you all come in. Let’s make leadership development a must. A healthy must.