Leaders exist because people follow. Brilliance is revealed in the presence of average. Heroes are exalted because they defeat villains.
While I don’t support the notion of enemies between people and countries, I do believe a little strategic hate can be an advantage in business. In fact, if you don’t detest your competition, you need to spear a scarier fish. And if your agency doesn’t share your contempt for the competition, then you deserve another agency.
Let’s face it, any white paper can rationalize the way for a brand to grow, but the actual will to grow comes from the heart of the people who lead the brand. Those brave and most poised for growth understand that emotion is stirred most by the tension that surrounds envy, ambition, frustration, anger, paranoia and yes, even hate. There’s a reason Steve Jobs served up Microsoft as big brother. Or why Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King went after Tesco. Or why even blood feuds erupt as in the case of Adi and Rudi Dassler who founded bitter rivals Adidas and Puma. That’s the way it goes when somebody wants to eat your lunch.
Retail always requires stealing share, so you must be prepared to conquer the very same people who are currently trying to conquer you. Some just play defense, but lose every time. Others find a way to fight. Those are the ones who win. Not because they have more money, they win because they have more fight. It means being open to re-think and re-mix everything for process improvement. It means testing everything — always. It means working with something to prove, regardless of previous success. It means being more impatient, relentless, frustrated and hungry.
It means keeping score.
These are the clients we work best with. We deserve them. They deserve us. And we all deserve a good, fierce enemy.