What a brutal, Marxist rebel can teach you about love (and leadership)
We can learn something from guerrilla war fighter, Che Guevara.
I am frequently asked, “What does it take to make this a business success? How do other companies follow suit?” Funnily, the answer has nothing to do with capturing more wealth. The answer lies in something the Marxist rebel, Che Guevara, said.
Che Guevara was one of the most brutal killers in history. I’d venture to guess there are probably not many fans of his out there – nor am I one of them. However, when they asked him, “What do you look for in a guerrilla fighter?”, you might be surprised to learn that his answer was “love.”
That is where I think leaders can follow suit – love. More specifically, having a passion for other people and a passion for helping.
After my rock band split up when I was 16, I was looking for a new identity, but what I ended up finding was something much, much more. I was chatting with a coffee shop owner, Heather, who was having trouble with her credit card processing and her point-of-sale system.
She was not the most business savvy person, but she had a tremendous amount of love and passion for her clients. I was not quite sure what I was doing, but I recognised she needed help. So I rolled up my sleeves and did whatever I could.
During this process, I found she was not alone in being treated unfairly by her processor. There were many other independent businesses around the area being taken advantage of by these huge, faceless companies. These were people in my community that I cared about and places that had supported my band over the years. I knew I could not sit back and let this happen.
I started by calling their credit card processors every couple of months. I negotiated and wrestled to get them better rates. I helped most of the small businesses in my neighbourhood and, as a result, their situations benefitted greatly.
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The connection and passion I felt for helping them was so much more valuable than any money I ever made.
A few years down the road, I was able to build up my product. From that came something I never expected – all the business owners I had worked with joined my new company, Gravity Payments.
That was a huge risk on their part to trust a 19-year-old college freshman with every dollar that went through their business. It took a lot of love and passion for them to believe in me. To this day, I still think they made the wrong decision, but I will forever be in their debt.
I decided that the love I served my customers by would be the foundation I would build my company’s culture on. Eventually, the company grew, and I was able to hire my first team member. Fast forward to today and the cascading effect this purpose-driven culture has had completely revolutionised the way we think and act at Gravity.
You often find people do things because their corporate overlords tell them they should. At my company, we believe it is not okay to do something you are not 100% passionate about. My team’s passion for standing up for the little guy or girl, treating them fairly, and doing more for them has made all the difference in our company’s success.
Our hope is that other business leaders will recognise that leading with love will be the new stick we measure ourselves by.
Che Guevara said, “We must strive every day so that this love of living humanity will be transformed into actual deeds, into acts that serve as examples, as a moving force.”
Society is starting to see a bottom-up revolution where we are empowered to do the right thing no matter what our circumstances are. Not only that, it is a responsibility. It is no longer a Gordon Gecko, dog-eat-dog world. Business is evolving into solving problems for humanity. It is a love revolution, and those who do not convert will go out of business.
Love is an irrational force, but a powerful one. We can tell by Che Guevara’s actions (and maybe Romeo’s, Juliet’s, and possibly every romantic comedy ever made), that love makes you do crazy things, but that feeling can propel you to a higher success than strict rationality alone.
Although it there were terrible and brutal things he did, maybe there is an important life lesson we can still learn from Che Guevara: What was he willing to sacrifice his life for? That is a question I encourage you to ask yourself. What is your life’s purpose and how do you connect that to your day-to-day life? What is one thing you would sacrifice everything else for?
I did not realise it at the time, but the one thing I am willing to sacrifice everything else in my life for was found while standing in line for a cup of coffee.
Dan Price is the Founder and CEO of Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company built on the simple notion of helping independent businesses fight for the same advantages typically reserved for large companies. He has been recognized by Inc and Entrepreneur magazines, and awarded “National Entrepreneur of the Year” by President Obama in 2010. To connect with him, visit Facebook at facebook.com/DanPriceSeattle, or www.gravitypayments.com.
Reposted with permission on Leaderonomics.com.