This social business fad? It’s no fad.

You know an idea has legs when you start seeing it everywhere, and my friends, social business is everywhere.

I found myself with some down time on a recent business trip, so I re-read Jeanne Bliss’s terrific book I Love You More Than My Dog, in which she examines what differentiates “beloved companies” — the ones with devoted, fanatical customers — from the competition. The following passage blew my mind:

“What sets companies that customers love apart from the others is that they imagine the (customer) experience first. Then — and only then — can they deliver it.”

In other words, amazing things happen when you start thinking like your customers — when your focus switches from selling something to solving problems.

That point was driven home the following day as the AICPA’s 2013 Digital CPA Conference hit its stride. CPAs love to describe themselves as “trusted business advisors,” but as Succession Institute co-founder and CEO Bill Reeb warned the crowd, “You can’t be a trusted advisor unless you know what’s keeping your clients up at night.”

Think like your clients. Solve their problems, not your own. Be human. The message couldn’t be clearer.

Then Simon Sinek took the stage.

You remember Simon. He’s the guy who wrote the remarkable Start With Why and recorded the second most-watched TED talk to date.

At Digital CPA, he took a new path — one based on his forthcoming book Leaders Eat Last and related to the think-like-a-client movement, but with a twist:

“Your clients and customers will never love you,” he said, “unless your employees love you first.”

How do you do that? By making them feel safe.

Building a “circle of safety” that surrounds your entire team will empower them to take chances, make them feel trusted, and foster greater collaboration across your organization. That will make them feel stronger and more capable, and inspire them to act on your clients’ behalf.

“How do we inspire and drive change?” Sinek asked. “Look out for the people to the left and right of you.”

In other words, take care of your team, and they’ll take care of your clients.

Pretty simple concept. The lesson is pretty clear: Think of your people first. Do that, and your profits will take care of themselves.

How are you taking advantage of the social-business movement?

While you’re thinking, watch my interview with Sinek in its entirety:
 

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