Surrounded by Hidden Heroes

During our race to market acceptance, we often speed past a key step.

Magnus and I bought our first home in Sugar Land, Texas in 1990. Whenever the meteorologist prepared us for yet another hurricane, I dreaded it. Rain pelted the endless concrete byways. The roof of our house felt as if it would blow away at any moment. And endless streams of commuters traversing Highway 57 dreaded flash floods and buckets of rain, destroying visibility.

Today, we witness greater forces of nature than I have ever witnessed firsthand: Hurricane Harvey in Houston, and his not-so-distant cousin, Irma, who is terrorizing Cuba, the Caribbean, and a wide swath of Florida. Both are testing our fortitude as a global community, and causing significant losses.

One thing continues to inspire me: the hidden heroes. One Southwest flight crew, for example, transported 64 cats and dogs from Houston to San Diego. Larry, Susan, and 17 other executives with a geophysical services company in West Houston banded together to clean up each other’s homes. As Karen Walker explains in her latest blog, “Some had flood insurance, some didn’t. Because they work in finance, they have very specific deadlines to meet each month at work. This month is no different…this is caring about the success of your colleagues. This is doing the right thing, at the right time.”

The list of hidden heroes will keep growing. They are not seeking the limelight. They aren’t taking selfies to post on Instagram. And they don’t have fancy titles. They are only concerned about modeling Houston hospitality. I expect the same stories to emerge in Florida in the days ahead.

You have hidden heroes in your organization, too—and if you ignore them, they may walk out the door.

Spotify, ING, Nordstrom, and Starbucks are customer-centric brands with committed team members who tell powerful stories. Many of us responsible for growth and marketing try to build brand stories that are as memorable as theirs. In that pursuit, we recruit the best SEO and digital experts to build integrated platforms and programs to spread those stories. Then we expect them to trigger a tsunami of online orders and repeat apps usage.

During this race to market acceptance, we often speed past a key step: We forget to involve our own teams as co-creators in building our story. Precious tribal knowledge marches out the door every night.

Your hidden, heroic storytellers might be your receptionist, customer service agent and accounting clerk. They just may need coaching on how to tell others why your organization matters. What will you do to find and recognize them? In my latest ForbesCMO post, you’ll hear how companies such as Lane Bryant and The Bouqs are winning hearts and minds.

People want to be helpful. It’s in our nature. Don’t wait for a disaster to shine your light.

P.S. I invite you to donate to Harvey and Irma victims. Check out The New York Times’ comprehensive lists of charities in need—and scams to avoid. Here’s the list of charities for Harvey, and the link for Hurricane Irma groups in need. If you contribute before September 30, I will make a donation to the same charity from either list. Just drop me a note with a confirmation receipt of your donation. THANK YOU.

Copyright 2017, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.

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