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Figure 2: Characteristics of an authentic business

A compelling organisational story

They care Deliver

meaningful value

Take the long view


networks, powered by an individual’s passion and excitement to inform others. This means they spend less on paid advertising trying to convince others to ‘like’ them. So consider this… Does your

organisation have a compelling story that spreads far beyond your geographic boundaries? How good is your organisation at proving the difference it makes to the lives of customers?

Generous Organisations need to have a reputation for authentic generosity if they’re to remain relevant to their stakeholders. Throwing out a few scraps of charity once a quarter is neither credible nor sufficient: it smells of putting the interests of the business first, especially when the press release is rushed out, talking more about the act itself while lacking proof of results and the difference made. So is your business a ‘net giver’ or ‘net

taker’, because communities will care if your club is perceived as the former. What is a ‘net giver’? Put simply, it’s a club that, over the course of time, gives more to its community than it takes out. A business never wants to have a reputation for being a ‘net taker’, as it’s a label that’s very hard to shrug off. As Thomas Kolster said in his book

Goodvertising: “Generosity can be a clear differentiator in a crowded market. Generosity is a powerful story to tell about a brand and can attract new customers, new suppliers and partnerships.” So consider this… How generous is your organisation when the press

and media aren’t looking? How could a sustained sense of generosity be embedded into your organisation?

Compassionate Having compassion means feeling concern for the misfortune of others. Together with the feeling, there’s often a strong desire to relieve it. Compassion comes naturally to

organisations whose purpose – the reason the business exists – focuses on serving others. For example, Tata Group – the Indian conglomerate employing 450,000 people in 85 countries – says it exists to “improve the quality of life of the communities we serve”. Jamsetji Tata, the founder of the company, once said: “The community is not just another stakeholder in the business, but in fact the very purpose for its existence.” Good Business’ Gibbons discusses

the idea of organisations showing compassion at the right moment. Unfortunately, the fi tness sector has an inconsistent track record in this respect. There are too many cases of members feeling let down when diagnosed with life-threatening conditions, for example, only to discover their gym insists on them fulfi lling the full terms of their contract or requesting termination fees. The Offi ce of Fair Trading has been working with the fi tness sector for years to improve and simplify cancellation rights, but should it really require the intervention of a regulator to arrive at the compassionate thing to do? Consider this… What is the typical

response from your organisation when a community in which you operate is in need? Do staff within your organisation

48 Read Health Club Management online at

Characteristics of an authentic business

Organisations need

A belief in something

Consistent actions


to have a reputation for authentic

generosity if they’re to remain relevant. Throwing out a

few scraps of charity once a quarter is neither credible nor sufficient

have the authority to exercise acts of compassion which may require a fi nancial trade-off?

Connected Being connected is now a perplexing thing, given that more of us are now digitally tethered than ever before. Around the globe, 2.4 billion people are now connected to the internet – that’s one third of the world’s population. Facebook reached the magic number of one billion active monthly users as long ago as October 2012 and Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, has said he would like to connect the other six billion too. So it’s now becoming much easier

for organisations to connect with our devices, but getting into our heads and hearts is far more challenging. When an individual and a business do

genuinely connect, it’s an extraordinary thing. It literally is a meeting of minds. During 2013, I was in Brazil and took the opportunity to visit the remarkable Ecofi t club in São Paulo. Opened in 2005 by Antônio and Eduardo Gandra, Ecofi t is probably the world’s most environmentally friendly fi tness club. The brothers have intelligently combined their passion for the environment and wellbeing into a unique business that members love being a part of. The business has partnerships with Greenpeace Brazil, WWF and 14 other health and environmental organisations. This amazing club feels more like an environmental academy that also happens to be a fi tness club. Members love the club and what it stands for. So consider this… Do you truly understand why customers have

May 2014 © Cybertrek 2014

Visual Insight, Ray Algar, Oxygen Consulting, 2014

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