Customers Second, Customers First.
Customers in the "Marketplace."
"Customers" in the Firm Who Serve the Customers in the Marketplace.
[Some of you said, in Comments, that I've gone too far in this "customer 2nd" stuff. Probably true—but I still contend that there is a fundamental correctness, which addresses a characteristic imbalance, to Matthew Kelly's, "Our employees are our first customers, and our most important customers"—from The Dream Manager. Let me get personal about "all this ..."]
I luuuuuuuv great customer-"end user" feedback! I am competitive to a fault in that regard and a slave to the market—"after all these years." At a higher level of marketplace engagement, I love a hearty business backlog, especially if it's based on repeat business—and I carefully measure it against year-to-date 2007, 2006, 2005, etc. And I love a fee-per-event yield that exceeds last year, the year before, etc.
And so on.
And yet ...
And yet ... in an important way ... I indeed put the customer-"end user" second or third or ...
Second or third to what?
Simple & crystal clear (to me): To give a high-impact, well-regarded, occasionally life-changing speech "to customers" I first & second & third have to focus all my restless energy on "satisfying" ... myself. I must be ... physically & emotionally & intellectually agitated & excited & desperate beyond measure ... to communicate & connect & compel & grab by the collar & say my piece about a small number of things, often contentious and not "crowd-pleasers," that, at the moment, are literally a matter of personal ... life and death.
I crave great "customer feedback"—but in no way, shape, or form am I trying to "satisfy my customer." I am, I repeat, trying instead to satisfy me, my own deep neediness to reach out and grab my customer & connect with my customer over ideas that consume & devour me.
Hence ... my "Job One" is purely selfish & internally focused, to be completely captivated by the subject matter at hand. That is, to repeat in slightly different words, Job One is ... self-motivation.
Warren Bennis, my primo mentor, in On Becoming a Leader, said, "No leader sets out to be a leader per se, but rather to express him- or herself freely and fully. That is, leaders have no interest in proving themselves, but an abiding interest in expressing themselves."
So I'm back to my somewhat disingenuous message: To put the marketplace customer first, I must put the person serving the customer "more first." (Myself, in the case of a speech, the frontline employee for Rosenbluth International's Hal Rosenbluth in days past or for RE/MAX'sDave Liniger—see yesterday's "customer second" PowerPoint re Hal, Dave, et al.)
Excitement & self-stimulation first.
That's my cause & effect scheme.