Celebrating Sweet Sixteen - what a trip it's been!
by Toby Barazzuol on Tuesday Apr 1, 2014
16 years ago today I turned on the lights in a tiny Yaletown studio and launched Eclipse Awards. Though at the time it was the realization a life’s dream and months of groundwork, I had absolutely no idea that I was setting off on one of the most challenging, exhilarating, exhausting and magical adventures of my life. The journey of taking an idea and forging it into an actual business - working relentlessly in early years to establish and grow that business, building an excellent team, then harnessing an emerging phenomenon called the internet for nearly a decade of dizzying double-digit growth and working with the world’s most successful organizations, to getting crushed financially in 2008 and the years that followed, to emerging stronger and more resilient than ever before - is an amazing journey that I’m unlikely to take again in this lifetime. So with each passing anniversary I sit down to appreciate our unique vantage point and reflect back on what we’ve learned at Eclipse Awards over the past 16 years.
The past year has been ripe with wonderful experiences and opportunities, many the result of seeds that we had planted and nurtured years before. We launched The Awesome Awards, a pay-it-forward recognition program that we created to celebrate the everyday heroes who make the world a better place for all of us. I was selected as one of 16 national Fellows for the Business Alliance of Local Living Economies and travelled to both Harvard and to the White House to discuss recognition and the emerging new economy. As well, Eclipse Awards was recently recognized as BC’s Best Green Business by Small Business BC, so it’s been a rich and full year.
Through it all, we have the pleasure and privilege of working with amazing companies that truly value their people and partners. We continue to learn how to create and deliver ever more value, while at the same time using fewer and fewer resources - the essence of sustainability. And most importantly, we continue to find ways that recognition can be used to empower people, accelerate social change, strengthen communities of any size and celebrate the human spirit!
So in keeping with tradition, here’s an updated list of our homegrown business insights, with a special #16 added for our Sweet Sixteen this year:
01. Treat Everyone with Equal Respect
We may all have different roles and responsibilities and backgrounds, but in the end, we are all simply people trying to make our way in this world. The love you take really is equal to the love you make.
02. Your People are your Greatest Assets
Work with great people, let them do their job, and find ways to make sure they feel happy, engaged and appreciated. These are the people that will work hard for you, generate ideas for you, solve problems for you and impress your clients...or not. Recognize their efforts and celebrate them as an important part of your community. Create a culture of appreciation and you will be amazed by what follows!
03. Recognition is Powerful
It speaks to a basic human need that we all have to feel recognized and appreciated and feel valued as a part of a community. Recognition empowers people by bestowing confidence and creating new opportunities that didn’t exist before. Recognizing people for their efforts helps engage them in your community and culture. People who are engaged tend to be happier and contribute to stronger and more resilient organizations.
04. Your Integrity is also your Greatest Asset
Your integrity is the foundation of your business and it infuses all that you do. Cultivate your integrity, build strong relationships, carry yourself with grace and dignity and you will attract the same.
05. Be Bold & Daring
If you dream, make it big and bold. If you make a guarantee, make it strong and stand behind it. If you embrace technology or sustainability, do it in a way that sets you apart from others. Businesses are amazing vehicles – think outside the box and unleash your creativity in ways that add value to your community.
06. Embrace Awesomeness
At Eclipse, striving for sustainability is simply an extension of our commitment to being awesome! “Going green” is about choosing to hold ourselves to a highers standard when we relate to one another and our planet. Understanding sustainability is indeed the single greatest investment that you can make towards your future success, but it's not an end itself.
07. Choose Simplicity over Complexity
Wherever possible, remove excess and make things easier for everyone. Design simple systems and simple policies. Leonardo Da Vinci said “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” - and he knew what he was talking about.
08. If You Make a Mistake, Take Responsibility & Fix It Quickly (without complaining)
09. Enjoy Yourself!
It’s inevitable – at some point a mistake will happen. When it does, we accept full responsibility and do our best to fix it, whatever the cost, without complaining. It’s how we handle ourselves when things go wrong that is often the most important. We’ve earned some of our most loyal and longstanding customers because of how we handled something that went wrong.
Have fun with the people you work with and the people you work for! Take care of business and make things happen, but don’t take yourself too seriously :) PS - in 16 years we’ve never worked weekends, a fact that we hold dear to our hearts.
10. Energy Flows where your Attention Goes
Recognition is energy and so everything we talk about, think about, and do is a form of recognition. What do you want to manifest in the world? Cultivate that with your energy through the things you choose to recognize.
11. Be a Localist
A business is more than something to simply generate dollars. It’s also about putting your time and resources into enriching the social, environmental and cultural fabric of the communities you’re part of. I believe we should all be volunteering 20% of our time in service to our communities - imagine what our world might look like!
It’s hard to do everything alone, and honestly not that much fun. Explore creative new ways to work with your staff, your suppliers, other organizations in your community, even your competitors.! All business happens within an ecosystem, and we can accomplish a lot more together than we can alone.
13. Don’t Base Your Decisions Simply on Dollars
In business school, they teach that everything comes down to money. However in reality, the truly magical and wonderful things happen when we de-prioritize money and focus on other things such as beauty, happiness, integrity, community and creating memorable experiences. See our commitment to the Living Wage.
14. Compete on Value, Not on Price
Our world is changing quickly and we need to find new ways to live together and with our planet. See #13, but when we purchase solely on price we are forcing companies to continually cut quality. Instead, we need to make our decisions based on the full spectrum of value that a company creates: financial, social, environmental, visual and cultural - these are all important considerations for both consumers and successful companies of the future.
15. Community is Everything
At Eclipse we talk a lot about community and the importance of building resilient and engaged communities. After all, everyone play roles in many different communities - your company, your team, your NPO, your family, your association - these are all communities that you’re are part of. Recognition can be a powerful way to communicate intention, accelerate change and supercharge a community. Follow along, we’ll show you how it can be done!
16. Put your Clients’ Minds at Ease
Find out all of the things that might worry your clients, then put systems, policies and guarantees in place to address them. Erase any worries or concerns from their minds. See #5.
So there we have it - these things took us 16 years to learn, but you can grasp them in 16 minutes. Like any annual list, some things have changed since last year. Some things seem more timely while others feel more relevant. What do you think? What role will recognition play at your organization this year? How will you appreciate the qualities and values you admire? What are the important lessons that you've learned on your journey so far? What are your secret insights?
We'd love to hear your secret insights and remember, the more we share, the more we have!