I am going to mention the names of five companies. I would like for you to come up with the best business philosopher for each of these companies.
Ready? Here we go:
Do you have your answers? Great!
Now before we get to the answers, let me ask you this...
Are you leading a business, supervising a team or heading an organization? Is your daily participation so crucial that the entire organization would start to unravel if you took a break for several weeks or months?
In other words, your business, organization, or team is not self-sustainable without your daily hands-on leadership.
In this article, I want to share with you an important mind-shift. I also share some actions to take to lay the foundation for a high-functioning organization that is self-empowered, self-perpetuating, and scalable for generations to come.
In today's fast-paced and competitive business world, it is crucial to tap into our inner wisdom and unlock the potential of our own business philosopher. This concept revolves around the idea that the best business philosophers are those who follow their own inner wisdom and create practical solutions to human problems through their products and services.
In this article, we explore the importance of cultivating our inner business philosopher and how it can help us build self-sustaining organizations. We also introduce "The Business Philosopher Within You" podcast, which provides a platform for exchanging ideas, gaining insights, and building high-performing, resilient businesses and organizations.
Whether you run a business, head an organization, supervise a team of talented professionals, work in a brainy business with brainy people, or are simply interested in exploring these concepts, this article and podcast are here to nurture the business philosopher within you.
"Sure, they read books, they took classes, they went to college (some of them at least), and they listened to the gurus (up to a point). But when push came to shove, they listened to themselves."
The Best Business Philosophers in Some of the Most Iconic Companies
The best business philosophers for the companies I mentioned before, I think, are these.
Here we go: Microsoft, Bill Gates. Apple, Steve Jobs. Mary Kay, Mary Kay Ash. Amazon, Jeff Bezos. And Disney, Walt Disney.
That's right, the best business philosopher for each of these companies is also its founder.
Now maybe you disagree with me, and that’s okay. These answers are up to your interpretation, so there really are no right or wrong answers. However, I hope you see the point I am about to make.
Does the Term "Business Philosopher" Need Explanation?
My point is this: There is a good chance that you didn’t need to know what I meant by the term “business philosopher,” yet you probably thought about one or two of the names I mentioned above. You were intuitively able to connect the idea of a “business philosopher” to the person who was at the heart of the company, especially when the company was young.
Perhaps you had a strong reaction to the names of some of these business founders. You probably don’t like some of them, and you may not agree with their business philosophy.
You may not even see them as philosophers at all. In fact, if you asked any of these leaders if they saw themselves as business philosophers, most of them would probably say no.
Inner Wisdom: A Defining Characteristic of a Business Philosopher
So why do I call these leaders the best business philosophers their businesses have?
It’s because they followed their own inner wisdom in developing their companies.
Sure, they read books, they took classes, they went to college - some of them at least - and they listened to the gurus - up to a point. But when push came to shove, they listened to themselves. They took their own counsel. They subordinated other people’s business philosophy, other people’s thinking, to their own inner wisdom. They had more faith, more trust, in their own inner wisdom than the business philosophies proposed by other people.
For the most part, they didn’t follow the commonly accepted business wisdom. They followed their own inner business philosopher.
Can you identify with this? "They had more faith, more trust, in their own inner wisdom than the business philosophies proposed by other people." #awayre
A Fun Fact: Business Wisdom and College Education
A fun fact: 4 of the 5 people I mentioned above didn’t graduate college. Does that have something to do with why they were so successful in building their companies? Something for you to think about. Let me know in the Comments why so many resilient business organizations are built by people who don’t graduate college.
What Makes a Business Philosopher?
You must be thinking, wait a minute, what does a philosopher have anything to do with business? I mean, aren’t philosophers the ones who sit on a couch, drink wine and think about the meaning of life?
Well, that’s partially true. But I think there is a bit more to this, so bear with me…
Let’s think about what it means to be a philosopher and what it means to be a business philosopher.
Philosopher Versus Business Philosopher: What Is the Difference?
A philosopher does his or her own independent thinking. But what’s more important is what they think about. They think about the human condition.
So, a philosopher does two things:
- They do their own independent thinking, and
- They think about the human condition.
A business philosopher takes this whole thing to a different level. They make this philosophy practical. They bring these pie-in-the-sky ideas to the earth and make them applicable to our lives in some way. They bring it to you and me as solutions to our problems in the forms of products and services.
If they did not understand our human condition - our human problems - in some way, they would not be able to design and deliver products and services that we would buy.
They also apply this same understanding of the human condition in a very important way. They build organizations of people who will do what needs to be done to make their vision of the solution a reality in the marketplace, in a sustainable and profitable way.
Steve Jobs, love him or hate him, didn’t just build an iPhone. He built an organization of people that makes iPhones. He didn’t just make animated movies with Pixar, he created a culture of people who made those movies, even when he was not directly involved in making them.
A business philosopher is a practical philosopher.
So let’s put it all together…
Agree or Disagree? "They bring these pie-in-the-sky ideas to the earth and make them applicable to our lives in some way. They bring it to you and me as solutions to our problems in the forms of products and services." #awayre
Definition of a Business Philosopher
A business philosopher does three things:
- They do their own original, authentic thinking,
- They think about the human condition, and
- They build human organizations that bring to the marketplace practical solutions to our human problems with their products and services.
Tapping Our Inner Wisdom Helps Us Build Self-Sustaining Organizations
Now, you must be asking: Why is it so important to call these business founders and leaders business philosophers? Why are we splitting hair here?
Well, because they were able to do something that many businesses would also like to do: They built organizations that stood the test of time. The organizations they built are resilient and are designed to outlive them. If these founders are still around, you can make a safe bet that the organizations they built will continue to thrive long after they are not on this planet.
Some of the Best Business Philosophers Lead Smaller Companies
By the way, I pick these names to make a point: They are well-known companies that most of us are familiar with.
But there are smaller companies that I have personally worked with—10, 20, 50, 200 500 employee companies—that are just as resilient, if not more.
Many of these founders have no desire to take their company public or to watch their companies grow into mega-billion-dollar corporations.
They just want to build long-lasting businesses that can grow without them staying involved in their daily operations, so that the success of the company is not reliant on them.
Even if they do exit the company - perhaps by selling it, passing it on the next generation or taking it public--they have the satisfaction of creating a culture that will outlive them even as they step back from its active operations.
I will tell you from my personal experience in working with such leaders: Most of these leaders do not ever want to retire, they want to stay active and involved as long as they can. In that case, they give themselves the freedom to take on a more hands-off role in the organization. So, they manage from a broader perspective and do higher levels of thinking.
In fact, if you have built a successful business organization, I bet that you have already used your own wisdom to some degree to manage your people and grow your business. The business philosopher I am talking about is already there within you. You already are your own best business philosopher, and—here is the kicker—even if you think you are not.
Agree or Disagree? "Most of these leaders do not ever want to retire, they want to stay active and involved as long as they can." #awayre
How to Tap the Business Philosopher Within You
If cultivating a self-sustaining organization that thrives for generations to come is important to you, and if you are open to tapping into your inner wisdom, your inner business philosopher to get there, there are three things you can do:
- Seek insights, ideas, strategies and tools that allow you to deepen your connection to your core, your essential being, your inner well of wisdom and inspiration. Also, make room in your calendar to allow time for some self-reflection.
- Consider a diversity of perspectives from people with different disciplines and backgrounds.
This is going to sound contradictory. If I am trying to develop confidence in my own inner wisdom, how does it help to pursue other people’s perspectives. Isn’t that just a way to get confused? Well, look at it this way. The more confidence we have in our own inner wisdom, the more we can entertain other people’s perspectives. Just because I am my own best business philosopher does not mean that I am closed off to other people’s points of view. In fact, the more confident we are in our own inner wisdom, the more open we will be to different angles, to different ways of looking at things. One of the best ways to learn and grow is through different viewpoints. And one of the ways to be able to entertain such viewpoints with an open mind is to be anchored deep into our own inner wisdom.
- Avoid being your own echo chamber. Avoid developing your business philosophy in a vacuum. Engage in a dialog. Share your perspective with others and listen to others’ ideas with an open mind.
Please Note: The Business Philosopher Within You podcast Goes Live On December 6, 2023.
We are soon launching our podcast, The Business Philosopher Within You, on December 6, 2023. When Episode 1 goes live, we will post it here.
A Place to Cultivate the Business Philosopher Within You
What if there was a place, a platform, that enables you to do these three things?
Welcome to "The Business Philosopher Within You" podcast.
There is a business philosopher within you, waiting to be unleashed. The Business Philosopher Within You podcast is about nurturing that business philosopher in you so that you can build a long-lasting, high-performing organization that outlives you.
This Business Philosopher Within You podcast brings us together for three things:
- We explore perspectives, ideas, strategies and tools to help you—help us--become our own best business philosophers so that we can build resilient organizations that stand the test of time.
I have some ideas that I will offer, like I am doing right now. But you have your own perspective and your own ideas. If you want to share them, please do so in the Comments section at the end of this article.
We will also have conversations with guests who will help us dig deep into our own well of wisdom and build self-sustaining organizations and sustainable growth. Some of these guests will be leaders who have built successful organizations and are willing to share their business philosophies with us. Others will be experts and authorities who will help us tap into the core of our essence and bring out our inner business philosophers.
- We are a platform to exchange ideas with others, form opinions and have them challenged. We are a place where we can offer--and gain--insights on building high-performing, self-sustaining businesses and organizations.
- We are a community of like-minded business leaders and professionals with whom we engage and develop ongoing relationships.
Agree or Disagree? "The manager and the employee need to come to some kind of an agreement on their vision. My vision of that employee, as a manager, and the employee's vision of that employee have to match." #awayre
Brainy Businesses and Brainy Bosses: Who Is This Podcast For?
Are you a brainy boss working in a brainy business? Let me clarify my question…
A Brainy Business is a company that employs creative talent, professional expertise and intangible human factors that cannot be replicated by machines, algorithms and artificial intelligence.
You are a brainy boss if you manage a Brainy Business.
If you fit this definition, if you are a Brainy Boss or work in a Brainy Business, this podcast is for you.
Listen… may be this stuff is too heady, too heavy, and it’s not your cup of tea. I respect that. Maybe you like the status quo, and it’s working for you. I am okay with that, too. But if some of what I bring to you here resonates with you, perhaps you want to stick around a bit, follow this podcast and tune in often. Perhaps you want to hear more, explore ideas, ask questions and join the conversation. If you do, I will be thrilled to connect with you and get to know you better. Please follow the link in the show notes, and I will see you there.
"You already are your own best business philosopher, and—here is the kicker—even if you think you are not."
The "business philosopher" is someone who taps into one's inner wisdom and uses it to build self-sustaining organizations.
The best business philosophers are those who follow their own inner wisdom and make their philosophy practical by creating solutions to human problems through products and services. These leaders, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mary Kay Ash, Jeff Bezos, and Walt Disney, have built resilient organizations that stand the test of time. They are able to do this because they have cultivated their own inner business philosopher and have the confidence to entertain different perspectives while staying true to their own wisdom.
Such business philosophers are not limited to the iconic leaders of some of the most enduring business organizations of our time. We can also find them leading smaller but resilient businesses that grow and thrive independently of the hands-on leadership of their founders and owners.
To cultivate the business philosopher within us all, I suggest we do three things:
- Seek insights, ideas and tools that allow us to deepen into the core of our inner wisdom.
- Consider a diversity of perspectives from people with different disciplines and backgrounds even as we become more confident in tapping our inner business philosopher.
- Avoid being your own echo chamber and developing your business philosophy in a vacuum. Instead, test your business philosophy through exchange of ideas with others.
The Business Philosopher Within You podcast is a platform to facilitate these three things. It aims to nurture the business philosopher within each listener and provide a platform for exchanging ideas, gaining insights, and building high-performing, self-sustaining businesses and organizations. It is specifically tailored for brainy bosses working in brainy businesses, but anyone interested in exploring these concepts is welcome to join the conversation.