Bill Taylor writes about how companies distinguish themselves by doing ordinary things in extraordinary ways. His words on the recent passing of Southwest Airlines founder Herb Kelleher at age 87 struck me.
Kelleher was, Taylor observed, "as smart as he was sassy, as competitive as he was human, as consequential as he was approachable."
In trying to delve beyond those observations that skim the surface traits of a man whose entrepreneurial offspring became one of America's greatest business case studies in success, Taylor landed on the following lesson to learn from Kelleher's achievement.
"You can create vast economic value based on genuine and generous human values, why what you hope to achieve in the marketplace must be reflected in what you build in the workplace, how in an age of disruption and transformation, simplicity and consistency matter most...
"To him, Southwest Airlines was never just a company. It was a cause. The goal was not just to keep fares low and fly to more cities. The goal, in his words, was to “democratize the skies” — to make it as easy, affordable, and flexible, for average Americans to travel as it had always been for business travelers and the affluent."
It's this notion that "it's not what you sell, it's what you stand for," that ties in my mind, the legacy of Herb Kelleher and many of the people I'm honored to encounter and know in the home building, development, building materials, and investment world of residential construction.
Further, it's this, "Kelleher understood better than any CEO I ever met that your brand is the outward expression of your culture, and that your culture is the only platform that can sustain and renew your brand."
The reason I think Kelleher's life, his style, and his Harvard Business Review case-study incarnate in business strategy and culture resonate so profoundly is that I know people in the home building ecosystem who're built of the same DNA, and work to do for people and their housing options what Kelleher did for air travel.
To bring a lofty goal down to earth, and make it real.
In this day and age, where some of the bloom is off the rose of exponential technology's sheer, unimpeded impact in our lives, builders may take some encouragement from a Kelleher cardinal principle: "simplicity and consistency" matter most.
Too, as clouds of uncertainty, forces of volatility, and a disturbance to the generalized comfy blanket of confidence that "now is the right time to buy" wreak havoc with forecasts and near-term investment models, a cardinal principle of simplicity and consistency can be what sets builders apart, even from one another, as companies people who want a new home trust.
Trust, at the end of the day, makes people know and feel they're being smart in their choice of what to buy.
Each year, Lifestory Research announces the results of the annual America’s Most Trusted® Study today, a ranking of the most trusted brands in consumers’ lives. In the 7th year, more than 30,000 people rated over 300 brands to determine the most trusted brands.
“Our research shows that the brands that put people at the center of their business are earning trust,” said Eric Snider, President of Lifestory Research. “Brands that score high in our Trust Index understand that trust is foundational to business success. These brands operate with a pre-purchase focus in which they seek ways to convey capability, benevolence, and integrity--the bedrock conditions of trust."
Taylor Morrison, a multi-year winner in the Lifestory rankings, stood out, once again, as a leader among leaders among home builders the survey examined. William Lyon Homes, Toll Brothers, Woodside Homes, and Brookfield Homes also made the Lifestory's top five in the home builder category.
Among "active adult resort" builders, Shea Trilogy ranked No. 1 in a category that got 11,534 consumer responses, including a number of other builders in the category.
Here's where you can find a full-listing of Lifestory's 2019 "Most Trusted," as well as methodologies and survey details.
Now, every person at every company--big, medium-sized, and small--in the housing firmament knows that awards and surveys are one thing, and real-life results may be another matter altogether.
And it helps to know that the basis of trust--which makes a buyer feel and know he or she is being smart about a purchase--starts, as Kelleher's life proved, not with what you sell but what you stand for.