Problem Examination: It is Just Business

by Jay Deragon on 03/05/2014

its personalEver heard, business is personal but don’t take it personally, it is just business?

Any interaction between two people is a personal experience. The difference between one person and another is the intent. A supplier wants to satisfy the customer and the customer simply expects to get the value they are seeking. Value comes in different forms and the perception of value is personal. Some people place value on price, others on quality, time, experience, utility and the list of attributes that continues to expand. Value is a personal goal everyone seeks but defines differently.

A business cannot be successful without understanding it’s personal. As soon as a business forgets this the people will take it personally. The aim of any business ought to be to create experiences that exceed people’s expectations. To do so a business has to have a culture that unlocks the promise of their people. The promise of people is unlimited when they are given the freedom to make work personal.

It is Personal Because…

Life is personal. The reason this thing called the social web continues to grow in influence is because it is personal. People engaging and sharing:

  • Personal interest
  • Personal experiences
  • Personal relationships
  • Personal struggles and goals
  • Personal sacrifices and expectations
  • Personal successes and failures
  • Personal stories

Too many businesses see social as an extension of two functions: marketing and service based on their own definition. While a few have figured out how use social to listen to the market they fail to understand it’s personal— being social is a personal experience.

Which company inspires the human potential more: an organization whose vision is to “creates places and products” that help people “unlock their human potential or one that simply wants to create a higher ROI for investors ?

Most people would want to work for and buy from the latter organization because its mission is much more inspiring. It connects with them on a human level by acknowledging that business is personal.


Matt Alston March 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm


Your posts are always interesting and this one touched a note I teach and mentor all the time.

Any company that operates from an intention that “It is just business” is creating a justification for being greedy and self centered and that is a win lose perspective that s treating their customer like a consumable resource placed their to simply fulfill the companies intention of greed. It is like a black hole it takes but it does not give.

A good company knows it must give in proportion to the value of the product if it desires to receive the benefit of income.

The next time you hear anyone say, “it is just business” remember it translates in the social space into;
“I do not care what you want as long as I get what I am after”

The correct response to a company that says that is to:

Walk away. Give then nothing. Not money, not attention, and not your time.

Teach them a simple lesson by your actions that you will not be used or consumed by their self-centered needs.

Business is personal, it always was. People buy from people not companies.

Matt Alston

Jay Deragon March 5, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Thanks Matt…nice of you to provide excellent feedback and kind comments.

I think the 20th century management mindset forgot the personal part of business. Now they are being reminded of the errors of their way 🙂

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