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Last week I talked about the depressing race to the bottom. That’s a strategy of focusing on reducing prices over all other considerations.

When several companies do this at the same time, it destroys profit for everyone and can even kill an industry. We see this all the time.

Fortunately, there’s a different strategy you can embrace. It’s not any easier, but it sure can be more rewarding.

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I’ve heard several reports recently which talk about companies doing everything they can to drive profit. And of course the quickest variables to fiddle with are cutting quality and cutting employees.

Cut expenses, then you can reduce prices, so you’ll gain market share and win more profit. Here’s the problem with that logic. In a competitive market with multiple companies doing the same strategy, you don’t gain market share (or profit) at all when you reduce prices. Not unless you can do that faster than the competition for some reason – but that destroys your profit.

Unless you have a magic wand, of course. Most people out here in the real world don’t have one. You just have a bunch of companies all racing to the bottom, where NOBODY is eking out any kind of profit.

Fortunately, that’s not the only way to play the game.

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What’s in it for me?

That’s a phrase which is particularly popular in sales, to help marketing and sales people to focus on the customer rather than themselves. WIIFM.

But do you want to be a self-focused person and leader?

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Milton Friedman declared that the primary purpose of a business is to make money. Over the course of the last century, we’ve kidded ourselves into thinking that this is the ONLY purpose of business.

But it’s not true.

The money is just a holding place for adding value to the world. Sure, you can transfer money to someone else and it makes them happy – but it hasn’t actually made the world a better place until someone uses it to DO something.

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MLKquotePEOPLE are sometimes puzzled by this concept of “deep values” in the for-profit world.  Partly that stems from an overlap with the idea of altruism.

Altruism is the idea of putting others’ needs ahead of your own, being able to give without expectation of return.  We do this all the time in our families:  You’ll help out others just because of the close relationship, not because you expect something back.  Well, not exactly true – you expect a certain amount of reciprocation, or trust and closeness will degrade over time.  But that’s not very specific.

And in the case of the commitment to your spouse or kids, you’ll give and give and give.

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