The (Lasting) Power of Acceptance

I was speaking to a group of project managers the other day about team-building. We shared examples of ropes courses, timed games, and other high-adrenaline situations that are designed to bring people together, depend upon one other in stretch situations (things out of one’s comfort zone), and foster deeper understanding and trust. I added that team-building can leverage these events but a project manager’s primarily responsibility is to build that productive, trusting environment for the team. No one else is going to do it.
At that moment two podcasts from National Public Radio came to mind. The first is a new jobs program in CA providing increased access to work for transgender employees. Kristy Ramirez, interviewed for the story, owns 6 Pollo Loco franchise stores in CA. She opened her first store prior to transitioning. In 2012, when she hired her first transgender employee, that employee told her how tough it was to find a job. Turns out that transgender people have twice the unemployment rate of the rest of the population. Ms. Ramirez hired several more transgender employees and found that her business increased, beyond transgender customers, that one might expect on the surface. Respect for individuals seems to be a recognizable, marketable practice, I told the project managers. Nods of recognition.
I shared a second NPR story that supported my point — Subaru’s profound business turn-around linked to the lesbian population. Turns out that in the 1990’s Subaru recognized a small but dedicated following of its all-wheel drive vehicles were lesbian. This happened almost by accident as Tim Mahoney, head of Subaru’s marketing team had a colleague that was gay and he shared this insight with Mahoney. Smartly,  Subaru pursued this market segment. Subaru hired a small advertising firm to create subtle cues to lesbians in their national advertising. Appealing directly was too risky at that point in time. Subaru could alienate heterosexuals from the brand if things didn’t work out. Subaru took the plunge. Using inside jokes that were  glaringly obvious to the lesbian community but innocuous to the rest of the population (that’s a hidden joke, after all), Subaru hired Lucy Lawless, the actress behind Xena, Warrior Princess to appear in their ads. The also placed a few clues on license plates in the ads, all inside jokes to the community. That campaign reinforced what Subaru learned, effectively saying, “Hey. We know you are out there. Thanks for doing business with us. We like you.” And it worked. That ad campaign was nearly 25 years ago and the power of acceptance, the power of saying, “I see you” has stuck.
Wow! How’d you like to make THAT happen on your projects, in your business? That’s some powerful stuff! At that point in my stormdp-otaku-obsessed-with-drivingy to the project managers I noticed the hair on my arms standing on end. I was electric.
Recognizing and accepting
people for who they are, where they are and appreciating them.
Now that’s something to drive home.
You are great!
Gordon
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About Gordon Young

Need 10's of millions? Start here. Keynote speaker, coach and instructor. I help companies tap into the creativity and energy of their teams resulting in profit, engagement and well-being.
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