Boredom

BY BOB SHENEFELT

Boredom.  It can strike employees and entire companies if you’re not looking.

I’ve been there.  And I can tell you that where there’s a bored or stagnated company, chances are the company culture – its driving force – bears no resemblance to the entrepreneurial spirit that created it.

I had a brainstorm for my first business, 20 years ago: help U.S. companies distribute into Canada.  Getting volume mail and packages across the border can be complicated and expensive.  So I founded a distribution company.

We had a solid concept, a fired-up staff and a polar bear as a mascot.  What could go wrong?

Plenty, as it turns out.  We grew fast.  We hired dozens of staff and signed big clients.  But we also got lazy, started coasting, lost focus and ran out of cash.  It wasn’t until we looked at who we were and actually put a name to our values – the “Bear Necessities”– and put those values into practice that we got our game back.  Employee satisfaction and sales surged, as did our finances.  I sold that business in great shape.

There was a lesson to be learned, but I was busy starting my next venture – RCS International, another mail distribution company. I knew the market and the formula, I put people and policies in place and we were off and running.  We earned money.  We established routines.  We managed postage, freight, pallets, mailing lists, shipping routes...day after day after day.

I was never so bored in my life.

Clearly I needed to tap the passion that drives me.  I spent time analyzing, researching and consulting with experts, and what I created is iMatter: a leadership approach that fuses personal and business goals to achieve satisfaction and growth.

It’s simple, yet fundamental.  It starts with the values and principles of you, and applies those to the organizational culture.  For me, for example, it’s all about relationships, so I need to make sure that relationships fuel my business.  That’s why, at RCS, we don’t focus on “sales” – we focus on the connections we make for our clients, employees and everyone we come in contact with; in fact, we employ “connections agents” to maintain that focus.   

These days, I spend my time coaching other high-energy, entrepreneurial types and helping them to reach their goals and dreams.  Time and again, I see that the key to their happiness is to create a culture that represents and leverages who they are.  The iMatter approach boils it down: What matters most?  Clarify who you are.  Then put that into place in your business and your life, to achieve success and be happy.

So what about RCS, the company I was bored with because it was no longer fun and didn’t represent me?  I had a chance to sell it, but I didn’t.  The iMatter culture has become an invigorating, grounding process for growing relationships and growing the business.  RCS is thriving.  Revenue should double this year.

Putting out there who I am and what I stand for has been everything but boring.