'Don't play it safe, play with heart'

As I sat through two days of listening to the world?s most inspirational and respected business leaders earlier this month, one single thought crossed my mind ? business can do so much good if it is run by good men and good women with good heart and soul. I was at the Global Brand Forum 2003 held in Singapore, the inaugural event organised by Intelligent Enterprise and Ogilvy & Mather. The speakers were inspiring; their messages full of wisdom. Words are cheap, we know, but coming from these speakers who have all made names for themselves, built up successful companies and in many ways built up personal brands themselves, the words were very credible. Tom Peters, author of the most successful management book ever written ?In Search of Excellence?, calls it ?a disruptive age? and challenges us to ?Re-imagine!?, the title of his new book. Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, challenges global brands to operate with a conscience and says people have become bored of brands and ?people selling to them all the time?. Scott Bedbury, the man who created the Nike and Starbucks brands, calls it a ?brand new world? and says ?it is not a safe time to play safe, not a time to rely on traditional approaches?. Deepak Chopra, the mind body medicine guru, calls on business leaders to embrace ?the soul of leadership? ? ?an expression of who we are as a human being? ? and inspires us to believe that ?individual consciousness creates public consciousness?. The founder and chairman of Infosys Technologies Limited, Narayana Murthy, believes the sole aim of corporations must be to create wealth for the masses and not line the pockets of CEOs. The mantra of the man named Asian Business Person Of The Year by Fortune Magazine and World Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003 by Ernst & Young is ?compassionate capitalism?. Ho Kwon Ping (pictured), chairman of the Banyan Tree Group, says Asian companies must break out of the ?cost mentality? and build brands which give clear proprietary advantages. Tom Kelley, the co-founder and general manager of IDEO, the world?s leading business consultancy and who brought the world the Apple mouse and the Palm V, believes that brands are best promoted in the long run by creating authentic business experiences. Yes, there will always be the skeptics that will say, ?it is easy for them to say this because they?ve made it? or ?this is not practical at all? or ?this is not relevant to my business? ? but think again. Perhaps the reason they?ve made it is because they practised what they preached. Great ideas should never be practical but should initially be outrageous. Principles are universal in business, whether you are selling a tour or towel. As I sat, listened and observed, I tried to pinpoint common qualities ? what was it about these individuals that made them different? That made them the success they are? I came up with this list ? make it your wishlist for 2004, and beyond, as you dare to dream of a future for yourself, and your businesses.

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