This week, my assistant Laura authors Thoughtwave. From time-to-time, you’ll see Alyssa and Laura author a post. Both of them enjoy writing and this is a way that I can support their expansion. It’s not really a guest blog because they both have a direct connection to Perpetual Development. They both also author articles, posts and blogs independently.

One of my primary drivers is helping people maximize their talents, skills and abilities. Providing the opportunity for Laura to write this week’s Thoughtwave is a way in which we all benefit.

Now… onto Laura’s post.

The basis of this week’s Thoughtwave begins with explaining two concepts.

The Water-Diamond Paradox

When I turned eighteen I was given my great-great-grandmother’s diamond engagement ring. The ring dates back to the 1800s and has been preserved and valued through five generations, an immigration from England to Canada and Canada to the United States, through the Great Depression, both World Wars, and the Dust Bowl. The ring saw times of extreme hardship for my maternal lineage, yet it was never traded nor sold. The opportunity to provide the ring to the next daughter in the family was always valued. But what actual value does the ring bring to my family? Besides the value of tradition? I suppose not much. You, me, and all of life can easily exist without diamonds, yet they are considered HIGHLY valuable. And yet, water, which is required by EVERY living thing, has a very low market value. This is the Water-Diamond Paradox.

7th Generation Principle

The 7th Generation Principle states that with every decision, be it personal or corporate, consideration must be made for how it will affect our descendants seven generations into the future. Over 200 years ago, my great-great-grandmother realized she had the opportunity to provide a great-great-granddaughter she would never meet a gift. She, as well as three other women, valued the ring which had no true use in their life, so much that they were willing to forego the personal benefit of selling the ring to ensure it saw future generations.

Are You Giving Value to the Future?

I learned about both the Water-Diamond Paradox and the 7th Generation Principle while working for a water rights lawyer before coming to work with Brent. However, in many of our discussions, these two principles come to mind.

“Where are we placing our value? And why?”
“Have we thought about how this decision will impact the future generations of the business?”

Where Are You Placing Your Value?

You may have heard that the family-owned Forever 21 is filing for bankruptcy after once making the couple who founded it one of America’s wealthiest. So what happened? They misplaced their value.

The store became popular, cultivating a huge following, by selling trendy clothes for low prices. Part of what made Forever 21 so popular was that even though their products were mass-produced they were only sold in stores for a limited time. Clothes felt unique to the buyers.

However, the company chose to seek value in growing in the number and size of the stores and in doing so, their clothes became less unique, described by some as “cookie-cutter”. The store began to lose its following.

Had the company continued to value what their customers valued long-term, perhaps things would be different.

Are You Thinking into the Future?

In 2014, Forever 21’s sales surpassed $4 Billion. However, a year later the owners were drawing up loan agreements that included $5 million from each of their two daughters. Now, the daughters are named as unsecured creditors on the bankruptcy filings for their parents’ business. The sisters are now facing limits the lifestyle brand they launched in 2017, such as nine canceled leases to unopened shops, as part of the Forever 21 bankruptcy.

The parents seemingly failed to consider how their actions might impact future generations.

The Paradox

Don’t allow your business to become a paradox.

  1. Place your value in branding rather than chasing marketing trends.
    (Alyssa wrote a really great blog on this linked here).
  2. Don’t fail to value the feedback of your customers or clients.
  3. Rather than flaunting Casual Fridays and Bring Your Dog to Work days, find out what benefits your employees need (childcare assistance and flexible schedules?).
  4. Don’t refer to your company as a family business but fail to consider how your business decisions will impact future generations.

#Thoughtstarters

  1. Is there anywhere in your business that you are misplacing value?
  2. Name one major business decision you’re in the process of making. Create an outline of how decision options will impact future generations.

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.