Itai, the Great Bellman

Itai is a black Zimbabwean bellman working for the majestic Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg, an Orient Express property where I am honored to be a guest during my frequent visits to South Africa. Itai is gracious in his service and passionate about his hotel, his work and the guests he serves. But, with little opportunity for education, Itai until recently never considered the possibility of a career beyond his current occupation. He was thankful to have a job at all.
This all changed last month. Itai noticed the contents of an open box of books he was delivering to my room. When he noticed the title, his heart raced as he saw a light at the end of an otherwise bleak career tunnel. The book was Lead By Greatness and he asked me if there was any way he could acquire a copy. I was delighted to present him with one and to inscribe it for him.
A week later Itai, with the happiest smile on his face escorted me to my room. (The Westcliff, comprising many different, uniquely designed complexes of suites, is built on a beautiful hillside overlooking Johannesburg's zoo and its lushly treed suburbs. It's rooms are accessible mainly by golf-cart, one of which is driven by Itai.) He told me that he had applied to two universities to study basic business and management. Reading the book, he said, he realized he too could be a great leader and was determined to become one. Lead By Greatness provided him with the methodology, and he would gain whatever education he needed to be able to use his leadership in a management position. He decided he would work and study at the same time, and do whatever it needed for him to succeed no matter how long it took.
Itai's story reminded me of an important strategic principle in Lead By Greatness. When designing a product or business, or when writing a book, aim at the narrowest definition possible of the primary beneficiary of your product or service. The primary beneficiary is the set of individuals who will gain the highest value from your offering. However, always remember that your primary beneficiary is not your only or even your most profitable beneficiary or customer. Countless other people and entities will also benefit from what you do, but the more narrowly you define your beneficiary, the more focused and innovative will be your product. For example, honeymoon suites in hotels are designed for honeymooners, but most of the people who occupy them are not on honeymoon. Business class on airlines is designed for business people, but not everyone who travels business class is on business. (Chapters 6, and 16-18 in Lead By Greatness show you how to determine who your primary beneficiaries are, and how to design more innovative and differentiated products and services for them.) My book was written for CEO's and leaders of organizations, business units and teams (my primary beneficiaries), but its impact could goes far beyond this group of leaders. Lead By Greatness serves anyone wanting to influence the behaviors of others, including educators, parents and students preparing for life. However, while writing the book, I never pictured Itai as a beneficiary of my work, but I feel honored that he is.
Who are your primary beneficiaries, the narrowly defined set of people for whom you have designed your offering and who will gain the most value from it ? Give this some thought, if necessary tweak or redesign your offering, and watch your customer appeal grow from the narrow definition of people for whom you have designed it to a much broader base of customers and clients.
Counterintuitive -- but true.

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