Monday, August 15, 2005

Marketing and Mysticism

The Hasidic Masters' Guide to Management

Did you ever read a book and wish you wrote it? I recently discovered a book by Moshe Kranc that bridges worlds. The Hasidic Masters' Guide to Management was an instant illumination.

The Hasidic Masters' style is fundamentally moral and people-oriented. Many people share these values, try to live them in their personal lives, and seek to pass them on to their children. All too often, people are forced to leave their values at the door when they come to work--they don't feel that those values are relevant or welcome. This is a terrible loss, both for the employees and for the workplace--people leave the best part of themselves out of work, and are less effective as a result. So, the question isn't: how successful will you be if you follow the Hasidic management style? The real question is: How successful can you possibly be at work if you don't bring these kinds of values (ethics, caring about people) to bear on the workplace?

There's more to this worldview than ethics or even caring. There is something deeper here. The Sages quote the verse (Proverbs 27:19), "Just as water reflects a face, so one person'’s heart reflects another." If you want to find favor in someone'’s eyes, try to muster a genuine feeling of love for that person in your own heart. And that feeling will be reflected back to you.

This is not Machiavellian manipulation. Not cunning, shrewd strategy and tactics. And it's light-years beyond CRM. This is an opportunity for marketing to transcend the workaday world. The secret is learning to care about and love others. Even if you're trying to sell them something!

Oy! Not easy. As a marketer and copywriter, I'm far more comfortable with the hustle. It doesn't come naturally to balance the apparent contradictions of caring and selling. Most of us have compartmentalized our lives. Business and Love are in different sections of our mental library.

So how do you apply it? When I figure it out, I'll let you know. I am still trying to learn the art of integrating the world of work with the world of the spirit. But one thing I'm sure of. Even just thinking about it is worthwhile. And I'm grateful to Moshe Kranc for reminding me.

Even as a boy, I realized that the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" was wrong: "You mean what do I want to do for a living when I grow up... not what I want to be!"

But Hasidism goes so much deeper than my youthful insight. It offers a way to be what you do. And it teaches that you can raise even the simplest transaction into a spiritual act.

Which reminds me of a story....

Reb Yitzchak of Vorky (Warka in Polish. R. Yitzchak Kalish 1779–-1848) once praised an innkeeper for his kind hospitality.

"But Rebbe," asked one of the Hasidim, "serving food and having guests is his business."

"You don't understand," said the Rebbe. "He only takes money so he can continue what he's doing. But really, it's kindness."

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