This post is part of a series outlining the 11 principles detailed in David’s book, Heed Your Call, which helps modern-day heroes (entrepreneurs) integrate their business and spiritual lives.

At the Meriwether Group, we like to practice a philosophy of authenticity and philanthropy. Our approach and my personal mantra here is every interaction we have with each other and with the world is an opportunity to offer something. Whether it’s smiling, asking someone their name and meaning it, or showing a little love, for every breath we take, we must implement these practices.

We need to rally against buzz words and affirmations, like innovation or conscious capital.
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In the process of branding, I stress the importance of building in this type of authenticity as well. I strongly encourage teams to rally against buzz words and affirmations, like “innovation” or “conscious capital.”

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the rising trend of the use of the word “sustainability”—it’s become a complete buzzword. Some call it “greenwashing,” and in many cases, they are totally right. Businesses in all sorts of industries form committees on sustainability. Then, they go off with a budget, and suddenly there are some recycling containers and a bike rack at the office.

Today more than ever, it’s crucial to operate a business not just from a place of checking boxes and using arbitrary labels, but to actually build a company culture that aligns with the underlying energy, action, and intention behind these words. There is a great Ralph Waldo Emerson quote I often refer to when trying to relay this message to entrepreneurs: “Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

Every touch point your business has with consumers serves as an opportunity to showcase your values. Tweet This Quote

Every touch point a business has with a consumer should serve as an opportunity to “be” what you preach in your mission or brand image—an opportunity to showcase your deepest values. This is the best consulting strategy I can suggest.

Another trend lately has been the B-corp certification of a number of companies. Don’t get me wrong—I think striving to become a benefit corporation is noble. However, I’m always a bit entertained when companies ask me if I think they should become a B-corp. I respond by asking them to walk me through their thought process. They say things like, “Well it’s kind of a pain in the ass, and we are going to have to spend some money, but it could be good from a marketing standpoint, etc. Do you think it’s worth it?”

Believe me, I understand ROI and the need to measure spend against return. Yet when it comes to questions of values, who you are, what your brand stands for, and what your purpose for existing is, when you try and have some sort of ROI discussion around these topics, it starts to pollute the reason behind why you are doing anything in the first place.

Companies need to actually be what they say they’re going to do in the world.
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This type of thinking could lead to the following situation. A big company decides it’s going to offer yoga in the break room for 20 minutes every day because it thinks it will be really good for its employees and staff. Then, the company throws four yoga mats into a room, puts a sign on the wall, and pats itself on the back. Is that really embracing health and wellness in the workplace?

More than ever, the consumer can sniff out the bullshit with this lack of authenticity. Companies must operate and communicate from a place of deep resolve to actually be what they say they’re going to do in the world—not say things as marketing tools or as a means to check a box. In many cases, that practice actually works against you.

David Howitt

Author David Howitt

David, author of the integrated business book, Heed Your Call, is the founding CEO of Meriwether Group—a private equity firm offering business advising and accelerator services. He is an accomplished entrepreneur with over twenty years of experience providing business strategy and brand counsel to thriving start-ups, small businesses and Fortune 100 companies.

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