Everyone in Business Should Follow This Rule

skydiving-group-GEOFFREY JAMES If I were to pick one rule that applies to every business situation, it would be: “It’s not about me; it’s all about you.” Examine any aspect of corporate life, and you’ll find that this rule is the foundation of doing the job right:


For the past two years, in my free weekly newsletter, I’ve critiqued and rewritten over a hundred sales messages. By far the most common mistake is making the message about the seller rather than the buyer, like so:

I hope you are well… I am account manager for… My company does… Our product has… I would like to tell you about… I am certain that… Our website has more information… Call me if you have questions… What’s the best time for me to call?…

Emails like this almost never get answered, for reasons I explain in Try This Simple Trick to Double Your Sales. To summarize that post, effective selling focuses on what buying would mean to the customer.

That’s true at every stage of the sales process, from giving an elevator pitch to closing the deal. Whatever they’re doing, top salespeople keep in mind that “it’s not about me; it’s all about you.”


Marketing, like sales, is most effective when it’s pointed outward. For example, when marketers find hot leads for salespeople, they’re providing a service, not just to the salespeople, but also to the customers whom the salespeople will contact.

Same the with branding. As I explain in Make the Customer the Hero, what makes a brand great isn’t the company or the products but the customers who love the products that the brand represents. It’s Apple’s customers who make the Apple brand so powerful, not Apple itself.

Market research, too. The purpose of market research is to find out what other people–prospective customers–are thinking and feeling. In short, no matter what they’re doing, marketers need to remember: “It’s not about me; it’s all about you.”

Personal Branding

In Create Your Personal Brand: 8 Steps, I explain the mechanics of building your brand online. While that post is valuable, it doesn’t address how to create a brand that people care about.

And that’s too bad, because people are really struggling to get this part right. For example, many people try to build a personal brand by having Twitter profiles that are all about them:

  • “Superb marketer, motorcycle enthusiast, husband and dad.”
  • “Account manager for XYZ, avid hiker, always positive.”

Few tweeters are savvy enough to build their personal brand around what other people need.

In 8 Words or Less: What’s Unique About You? I asked readers to send me their personal brand message and then to vote on the message they liked best. At this point, the winning messages are:

  • “Unlock the relationship code. Win business without selling.”
  • “Forgo instant gratification to build a lasting relationship.”
  • “I simplify sales communications to unlock selling time.”

Notice what all these personal brand messages have in common? They explain what working with this person would mean to you. When these messages were written, I’m certain somebody was thinking: “It’s not about me; it’s all about you.”

Everything Else

I could go through every job in every organization, but that would take thousands of words. Suffice it to point out that:

  • The best managers concentrate on making their employees more successful.
  • The best CFOs ensure everyone has the money they need to get the job done.
  • The best programmers start with the human interface and then build inward.
  • The best chip designers build circuits other designers can use easily.
  • The best assembly line workers want people to use and like the product.
  • The best writers write for their readers and not for themselves.

Receptionist, admins, phone support, writers, HR, janitors–you name a role and if you look deeply enough, you’ll see that the key to doing to a superlative job is keeping uppermost in your mind: “It’s not about me; it’s all about you.”

Originally published on Inc.com

Geoffrey James

Geoffrey James

Geoffrey James, writes a daily column for Inc.com and is the author of the newly-published book Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

No Replies to "Everyone in Business Should Follow This Rule"