4 January 2016 | 18 Comments
The day before I drove from St. Louis to Virginia for the holidays, I read an article on Inc.com about success, entrepreneurship, and leadership. It features a number of quotes and thoughts from billionaire Mark Cuban.
One of his lines really stuck with me, and I thought about it a lot on the long drive and over the holidays: “One of the ways to be incredibly successful no matter what you do is to reduce the stress of those around you.”
We often think about successful people as those who are the smartest, have the clearest vision, push the boundaries of conventional wisdom, and can command the attention of auditoriums full of people. Basically, we think of Steve Jobs.
As a Kickstarter creator and small business owner, I value all of those characteristics of success. I’ve also thought (and written) a lot about trust–I think a big part of effective crowdfunding is establishing and maintaining trust with backers before, during, and after the project.
But reducing stress? This is the first time I’ve ever heard it attributed to success. And I really, really like it.
I’m just not very good at it.
Here’s an example: A few days ago I posted a project update for Scythe, just as I’ve done every 1-2 weeks since the project funded on Kickstarter (regular updates are a good way to reduce backer stress). I mentioned that we were probably going to include a cardboard box inside the game box to hold the cards and tokens during the original transit from factory to backer. As I write this, I’m realizing that the reason I decided to include the box in the first place (and why I told backers about it) is to reduce backers of the stress of wondering if their game will arrive in perfect condition.
BUT here’s where I failed: I didn’t mention if the box will be able to hold sleeved cards or not. So instead of reducing backer stress, that missing information actually increased it (for some people).
Obviously this is a niche case, but I’m starting to see how I could improve my customer service in general by changing the focus to reducing stress. And not just customer service–this is something I can do better with my business partners, freelancers, retailers, and other companies I work with. I can have better relationships and thus make Stonemaier more successful if I’m always trying to reduce the stress of those around me.
There are so many ways this can manifest (and already has, through pure happenstance). Like, I remember leading up to the Scythe campaign, I got a lot of messages from people asking exactly when the campaign was going to launch so they wouldn’t miss out on early birds. We don’t do early birds, so I was able to reduce their stress in my response. But I could have taken it to a new level and made sure to better disseminate that information (the launch day/time and that we weren’t doing early birds) so those people wouldn’t have to stress about it at all. It seems like every level of stress relief has another level above it.
Leadership doesn’t have to be about power or control or authority. It can simply be about making life a little easier for those around you.
Here’s the full quote from the article about stress and being nice, as I think it’s a good way to end this post: “Being nice pays. Would you rather have business with somebody nice? One of the ways to be incredibly successful no matter what you do is to reduce the stress of those around you. If I have the chance to be nice to somebody, I’ll do it, because the best branding in the world, the best customer service and best customer connection, and the best employee connection is just being nice and reducing stress. Sometimes just being nice makes all the difference, because everybody wants to do business with somebody who is nice.”
What do you think about this concept?