While there’s nothing truly modern about “mindfulness”, it’s the practice du jour for progressive leaders. Fortune 500 CEOs, world leaders and many of the most prolific entrepreneurs have attributed their success, stamina and vision to their practice of mindfulness and meditation.
From the cover of TIME to Anderson Cooper’s 60 Minutes segment, mindfulness has become a mainstream buzzword. At companies like Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Zappos and Huffington Post, beginning a meeting with a moment of silence or creating a 30 minute break in a productive workday to meditate is de rigor.
These leaders are inspiring a new conversation in business. They recognize that creativity and innovation come from focused, healthy minds and they believe we do not have to sacrifice our mental or physical health to succeed. What does a corporate culture of self-care, self-awareness, focus and empathy look like? And what practices need to be in place to cultivate it?
Oyl + Water was founded on the concept of Mindful Marketing, a intentional approach to creating meaningful content, products and experiences that enhance health and wellbeing. At our core, we aim to establish our clients as thought leaders by identifying their audience and communicating their purpose in an unforgettable way. But before we can deliver the goods, we must first create a culture of mindfulness within.
This is why we wrote our own Mindful Marketing Manifesto, a list of rules that challenge popular marketing myths and make a case for mindfulness in business.
Begin with why.
All great brands have one thing in common: they really matter to their customers. If the brand ceased to exist, there would be a void that no other brand could easily and quickly fill. These brands are able to occupy space in a customer’s mind – and occupy share in the market – because from the very start, they were relentless at answering one critical, central question: WHY do they matter? The truth is that customers don’t care what you do, they care why you do it. Peel back the layers of your own story until you get to your essential purpose. We call this the sacred story and it is everything. Read more about finding your why here.
Be unapologetically specific.
Trying to be all things to all people makes for an unmemorable experience. Lack of a clear direction leads to a convoluted brand promise, and instead of capturing greater market share by appealing to the masses, they end up blending in with the masses and going down in history as yet another “me, too” brand. The best way to avoid irrelevance is to avoid ambiguity. Unapologetic specificity gives you a better chance for success by design, rather than by default. Design each product or experience with your “why” in mind, and the specifics – who, what, where and when – should be easy to identify.
Do less, better.
In terms of strategy and execution, be discerning. It’s okay to say no to good-but-not-great ideas and instead wait for the lighting bolt. This is a challenge for those who like to throw the proverbial spaghetti to see if it sticks. But, thoughtful consideration and deliberate planning save time, money and frustration. For example, there are dozens of social channels that are competing for your content. Not all of them are right for your brand. Sending more email campaigns will not lead to more sales, but more strategic, targeted and compelling offers will. Fewer new product launches each year will allow for each one to be a hero product. Consciously choosing fewer channels of distribution may allow you to build stronger relationships and devote more attention to valued partners. Net net, fewer competing priorities allows for more focused execution.
Don’t compete. Create new.
The stroke of genius usually doesn’t come from looking at your competitors and trying to figure out how to do what they do, only better. It comes by going deeper into your purpose and identifying new and innovative ways to deliver your message. Our clients “never blend in” with their competition because our approach is never to compete, but to create new. We find the white space and there’s more of it than you think. It’s just hard to see because no one has claimed it yet. Don’t compete with the big guys by doing what they do. Find what they can’t do and do it better than anyone. The world is run by people who get this.
Mind your body. Listen to your gut. Speak from the heart.
Mindfulness is ultimately about becoming self-aware. It is becoming aware of breath and sensation. It is becoming aware of the many moments we usually take for granted. It is listening intently to what is said and what is felt. It is allowing the present moment to unfold without judgement or expectation. When we are in this state, we can access creativity with greater focus, intuition and authenticity. Mindfulness helps cut through the noise and communicate more powerfully. And with time, greater self-awareness allows us to trust our instincts more fully, making us more confident, creative, effective leaders.