Greetings. Having teenagers has its special rewards. Wait…I'm trying to think of one. But seriously, having two teenage daughters is a source of great joy and, at times, lots of emotion. But it's also a wonderful opportunity to learn, keep up with the wisdom and challenges of their generation, strengthen my understanding of digital technology and the fast-changing world of entertainment and improve my colorful language skills. It is also an opportunity to learn about some of the best practices of companies focused on young people that are working hard to earn their attention and purchasing power. Companies like H & M, the fast-growing Swedish retailer, or Chipotle which has reinvented the world of fast food, or Spotify which is innovating the way people find and share music.
And one lesser-known company started by a mother and her teenage daughter in southern California also caught my eye. It's called Zorbitz and it makes jewelry out of gems and wood that has a special twist. Buy a Zorbitz bracelet and it comes on "seed paper" that can be planted to grow a tree. And if that isn't cool enough, it also comes with a powerful promise based on the specific healing purpose of each bracelet. For example, the "Protection Bracelet" that our daughter Carly received as a gift comes with the following pledge:
"Wear this bracelet always and your life can be protected from evil, negativity and harm, your stress can be lifted, and you will become a beautiful flower."
Which seemed a bit goofy until I started imagining this pledge as something we might offer to all of our customers. And all of our employees. A pledge to protect them by making their world–and our interactions with them–more positive, less toxic and way less stressful. A pledge to make them more beautiful and complete. A pledge to keep them from harm every minute that they use our product or work for our company or organization. And as I thought about it, it didn't seem so goofy any more. In fact, it seemed to be a remarkably powerful idea for all us that could, with a bit of word-smithing, apply to every business in every industry that cares about its customers and its people. Apparel makers whose offerings could make wearers stronger and healthier while protecting them from the dangers around them. Hotels that could make guests more energized and complete by protecting them from the stress of travel or the great frustration of a bad meeting. Defense contractors who could use the best technology and materials to protect all of our soldiers when they enter harm's way. IT companies that could build systems that instantly repair themselves. Based on a powerful pledge borne out of a bracelet and the vision of a young company started with $100 after a walk along the beach.
We win in business and in life when we commit to protecting those we serve. And when we believe that we can learn a lot from teenagers.