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Guest Opinion: To Succeed, Get Downright Buddhist About Your Business

5 Feb, 2010 By: Jay Steven Levin Response

Jay Steven LevinProfit-driven executives across all industry verticals need to get real about the state of their business if they want to keep their revenue — and their jobs — in line, and not get killed along the way by their competition.

The surest way to do that is to get downright Buddhist and detach from emotions.

Just ask any Samurai warrior wearing a suit. He’ll confess that anything sacred that we typically bow down to isn’t real — it’s an illusion. It stands in our way, slows us down and limits our options and responsiveness.

What kind of sacred stuff am I talking about here? Let’s start by looking at legacy systems, hardware systems, software applications, accounting procedures, marketing communications and sales structure silos that can’t functionally communicate cross-platform and, as a result, drive up customer acquisition costs.

All of the above can become sacred Buddhas that we place on our personal altars.

Here’s what I suggest: If you look at what programs, projects and initiatives you have either created, bought into or been the driving force behind, chances are you’ll discover you’re more attached to them failing than you’d like to admit.

Ask Yourself ‘Why?’
Who among us hasn’t thrown big budgets and good money after bad to patch up and make work what no longer does — all because you can’t admit that it’s either outlived its usefulness or purpose or never turned out to be as good as it was intended.

Take a look at Canoe Ventures’ difficulty in launching its 60-million household set-top box addressable advertising program. Backed by six of the major cable operators, Canoe was to put its oars in the water with a new product by now. Community Addressable Advertising was thought to be a enlightened profit Buddha, with the sacred blessing of manifesting high profits for cable networks and MSOs by delivering target-rich ads into some 370 high-income geo-zones.

Instead, not even in the water yet, Canoe is being questioned down to its core viability level. Catharine P. Taylor says in her BNET blog: “David Verklin, CEO of Canoe admitted to Multichannel News that making CAM work would require an overhaul of the entire infrastructure that eventually leads to a commercial appearing on air. Especially in the ad business, that’s a tall order.”

Let’s take a look outside the advertising business to see how it’s done.

Consider the major communications carrier that’s just notified its enterprise wireless server partners that it’s planning on discontinuing its legacy synch platform? Now, whoever decided to draw out the Samurai sword and to put it into that Buddha belly must have had some real stones. Think about the dollars being transitioned to execute that redirect. And then add on the millions of end-users it affects. Some Zen business masters really do get the reality that when something’s not right and you can’t fix it, you must kill it.

Next look at GM’s surprising announcement that it would kill its Saturn brand after a deal fell through to sell off the dealership chain, sacrificing some 350 dealerships, 13,000 workers and millions of Saturn followers. This comes after months of hard work by hundreds of corporate devotees trying to keep alive a dying form.

Delusional Visions of Nirvana
“Killing the Buddha” comes from an ancient Zen story about a monk who has been meditating for years. Nothing comes of it. But he’s committed. Studying. Day in. Day out. Then a-ha! He sees his end goal in a vision and realizes he has attained the “Buddha mind.”

He runs off to tell his Master. But his pride turns to shock when he’s told that what he’s seen isn’t reality. His Master has heard this story before. He even warns the delusional monk that such visions of nirvana can be harmful to reaching his true goal. Then — after the harsh admonishment and before sending the disheartened monk off to sweep the Zendo floor — the Master yells to him: “By the way, on your way back, if you meet the Buddha on your path, kill him.”

What’s the point? Stay true to your profit goals, and don’t let what you’re attached to distract you. Get out of your way to get where you need to be. Next time you see an image of what you think is Buddha on your path, kill it and move on. Om Mani Päme Hum.

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