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.

Each of us has the ability to create our own reality. A major fallacy is that we are passively operating in the world, along for the ride. Ultimately, we can co-create with the universe and decide what our destiny will be, both in our private and professional lives.

The founders of any company must dictate a clear intention about what they want to bring into the world. Tweet This Quote

At Meriwether Group, we are big believers that the arts of visualization and intention setting are powerful tools for business. The founders and leadership team of any company must dictate a clear intention about what they want to bring into the world.

The entire team needs to be on the same page, to the point where everyone can see, smell, touch, and feel a shared sense of the company’s mission and vision. When everyone can visualize the same result and the same process to get there, you have a powerful opportunity to co-create and manifest results together.

A great example of this type of intention setting comes from Oregon Chai, the company my wife Heather and I started in the mid-90s (that I introduced in my previous post). Around the time when we were defining and ideating the brand, I clearly remember her detailed visualization of her ideal customer experience:

“I can visualize a woman in Des Moines, Iowa, who’s maybe never left her city let alone traveled to the Himalayas, and may never do so. But when she puts a cup of Oregon Chai to her mouth, for that brief moment the aroma, the flavor profile, the texture, the creaminess, the spices, and the experience will all collaborate to transport her there.”

Heather held that intention and vision so close that it became critical to the brand. Eventually, it infused every single person who worked for the company and sold the product. As a result, what she visualized actually manifested. We received countless emails, notes, and phone calls from customers saying, “You’ve allowed me to have not just a product that I buy, but an experience that I get to share, so thank you.”

The business of the future will not be product or service companies, but rather experience sharers. Tweet This Quote

When you manifest your intention and co-create with the consumer, you transcend selling products and services; instead, you share experiences. We believe that the businesses of the future will not be product or service companies, but rather experience sharers. That is much stickier and more powerful than simply saying, “We sell a product.”

However, I should also provide a cautionary tale based on what happened three to four years after founding Oregon Chai—a major risk we at Meriwether Group see far too often. As your venture grows and evolves, you as the founder become less critical to the day-to-day operations. You might be advised to bring in outside parties to help make big decisions.

In the case of Oregon Chai, we brought in consumer-packaged goods experts from other big companies to help us manage our scale and strategy. They did not understand nor subscribe to the types of philosophies we held because they had come from more traditional left-brain businesses.

As your venture inevitably evolves, all product evolution must come from brand DNA and it’s subsequent authenticity. Tweet This Quote

These people came in and said we should launch a line of Chai iced tea because iced tea is a big category in the industry—we were a tea company, after all. Then, we could do peach and lemon iced tea because those are the biggest categories within iced tea. Given the standards of the industry, to them it made analytical and data-driven “sense.”

However, Heather stepped back and asked, “Wait a minute, what does Chai have to do with peach and lemon?” Chai is a traditional South Asian tea with a particular formula of spices and herbs that’s been around for thousands of years. Forcing it to take on a peach or lemon flavor would not transport consumers to the Himalayas, nor be in alignment with the Oregon Chai brand.

Unfortunately, the “experienced” CPG folk were indifferent. They essentially said, “You crazy founder, you don’t understand modeling, business analytics, or how to gauge the size of an opportunity.” So the iced tea products launched, and of course, they quickly failed. It was a painful lesson and one I hope others don’t have to experience.

Consumers can always see when new products and services deviate from the brand’s original DNA. Tweet This Quote

This phenomenon isn’t unique to small Chai tea companies. We see the same thing happen to massive companies. In 1985, Coca-Cola’s attempt to launch “New Coke,” the new formula and taste of Coca-Cola, totally flopped. It even happened to Cadillac. Back in the 80’s, Cadillac thought it was important to compete with Japanese companies that were kicking butt, so they launched a compact luxury car called the Cimarron, which also failed completely with only just over 132,000 sales.

These examples serve as evidence of the power of intentionality—making sure to include the original values of your company in every part of the process. The consumer can always see through your game playing and when new products or services are not derived from the brand’s original truth and DNA.

Your brand DNA is the root system that grounds your company and the consumer. Tweet This Quote

As you inevitably evolve, all product evolution comes from that DNA and its subsequent authenticity. It’s the root system that grounds your company and the consumer. Don’t underestimate the power of this truth.

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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