Friday, October 5, 2007

Corporate America and the Warrior Spirit

15 years ago, I became great friends with Michael Jones and Inga Tuigamala who introduced me to that special culture of the Pacific Islands. I was a guest at Michael’s wedding, a beautiful combination of Christian celebration, traditional songs and happiness. And thanks to Inga, I was invited on a 3-day tour of Tonga and the Islands. During this World Cup, both Tonga and Samoa have competed with the big boys, South Africa and England, and have excited audiences all over the world. They have integrated into the French communities and are particularly popular with the local kids. Tonga’s performance against South Africa was fantastic, and in hindsight, the US performance against the Tongans also looked impressive. Michael Jones and Samoa were disappointed that they couldn’t put a full 18 minutes together against England and South Africa, but they held their heads high. In the two-rooms before the England game, four words were scrawled on a flip chart – Pace, Power, Precision, Passion.

This is pretty good advice for running a business in today’s fast-paced environment. Fittingly, surrounding these words someone had scrawled “Warrior Spirit”.

I like that a lot. Successful companies are built on passion and harmony. They are created out of Pace (aka Velocity) or Speed in corporate speak, Power (aka sustainable competitive advantage) and Precision (aka execution, and Passion). Warrior Spirit is the critical glue that drives companies to success. At Saatchi & Saatchi, our spirit is “Nothing is Impossible”. For P&G it’s “The Relentless Quest to be the Best”. At Toyota, it’s continuous improvement in the form of “Kaizen”. Great companies all share a unique spirit that has been designed to unleash and inspire their people to be the best that they can be. The Tongans and the Samoans have demonstrated just how far a great Warrior Spirit can take you.

I met a great warrior and advertising giant in Pat Fallon last week in Minneapolis. Talking with Pat, I could see how that Warrior Spirit had been translated into Fallon Minneapolis and London. Their belief, “We are Fallon”, captures this thought brilliantly.