I noticed a lot of post-NRF BIG Show articles giving the “Top Takeaways”, which are certainly valuable, but at the risk of being redundant I wanted to tune in on a theme I noticed amongst speakers – Transparency.

Being from a smaller business that is very relationship focused, this topic resonated with me, and it was interesting to find out that our values aligned with, and were successful in, such huge brands as Virgin, The Honest Company, and IKEA.

Beginning with Virgin- I was very impressed when listening to Richard Branson, a business mogul, talk about the importance of authenticity and attention to detail in his business practice. He talked about how he will sit on a flight amongst his customers and take note of every issue, down to a stewardess’ shoes being uncomfortable- and then make a list and put solutions into action. He recognizes that what may not be a big deal to him is a big deal to others, and should be treated as such in order to set his business apart from his competitors.

Sir Richard Branson is very in tune to the fact that his business revolves around people and their quality of life. He even told a story about how Virgin was interviewing for a Sr. Level position- and to ensure that they hired the most genuine person, he picked candidates up from the airport himself. The catch here is that he went disguised as an elderly taxi driver so that their treatment of him would show their most authentic selves, not their interview selves. This eliminated a lot of potential candidates who otherwise looked good on paper.

It is important- in a very tech driven, digital age- to be able to build and maintain a relationship of trust and respect with others. To not be driven my greed and profit, but instead by how you can provide the best service you can to others. To always remember why you started doing what you’re doing.

Christopher Gavigan, Founder and Chief Purpose Officer of The Honest Company, is a great example of this. He is passionate about his business and it shows. He is focused on providing the best possible product because of what he believes. Gavigan spoke about winning the trust of today’s socially aware customer. With millennials having access to information at our fingertips at all times, we need to be driven to buy a product. Why should we choose a particular company? What do they stand for? What about their products separates them from competitor?

As Gavigan so eloquently and accurately put it – “If you fail the consumer once, they’re going to really notice. We’re not the perfect company, we’re The Honest Company”. And there you have it. The customer respects honesty. We respond to honesty. If you try to haphazardly cover up your mistakes, we will take notice. We will feel cheated, and consequently we will use somebody else.

I truly believe this applies to any industry, retail or not. Of course, any business needs to make a profit, but that does not mean this should be your drive. Base your business on transparency and purpose and the profit will be a byproduct. I will leave you with what IKEA USA’s President, Lars Petersson said- “The American Dream still exists, it’s just different”.

Please comment your thoughts, feedback and insights on transparency and/or your #nrf17 experience!