Let’s Talk About Me

Words are powerful things; they can engage, they can sting, they can excite and they can bore.  The impact words have on people is amazing, even every-day words provoke a gut reaction.  Try these two definitions for size:

Self-centred ~ chiefly concerned with one’s own interest

Altruistic ~ disregarding one’s own welfare over that of others

How did those two words make you feel?

Which do you prefer?

Be honest with yourself:

  • How would you rather be described, self-centred or altruistic?
  • What type of people do you like to spend your time with?
  • How do you want your children to grow up?

Self-centred or altruistic?  I think I can guess the answers.  Nobody respects the “big I am”.

So who would you rather do business with?

Next up I have some phrases from company mission statements for you to read, pay attention, there will be a short quiz at the end:

  • (We will)… grow our long-term savings business aggressively and profitably ~ Aviva
  • (We)… lead in the invention, development and manufacture of the industry’s most advanced information technologies ~ IBM
  • (We want)… to be recognised as a great company ~ BP
  • (We want to)… be the most profitable group of shipyards ~ BAE Systems
  • (We)… entertain, excite and inspire customers ~ Sky

The short quiz:

If these companies were people, which one would you like to go to the pub with?

Is it about them, or is it about you?

How would the world be if company mission statements contained words like “entertain”, “serve”, “support” and “courteous”?  If they were a little less self-centred and a little more altruistic?  What would that do for employee engagement?

Now words and actions are not the same things.  But without the words there will be no actions.

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Selfish Parking

Read another opinion

Image by Eleventh Earl of Mar


  1. Hello James
    Great point and it appears that you and I think alike. Here is what showed up in one of my posts:

    “Customer-centric companies are in a totally different league when it comes to the game that they are playing. Did you notice that their mission statements:

    1. start with / draw attention to customers, what jobs they will do for their customers, what value they will create, how they will treat their customers?

    2. speak words that speak to human beings in terms of their ‘concerns’ as human beings: ‘glorify’,’ faithful’, ‘positive influence’, ‘service’, ‘warmth’, ‘friendliness’, ‘pride’, ‘spirit’, ‘dedication’, ‘member’s, ‘worthwhile satisfying employment’,’discover’, ‘financial security’, ‘competitive products’, ‘families’, ‘nurture’, ‘human spirit’, ‘love’, ‘people’..?

    3. are concrete, meaningful and even inspiring to customers (and employees) whereas the mission statements of the ‘not customer-centric’ companies are vague, amorphous, general and generally meaningless and uninspiring?”

    And the full post is here, just in case you are interested:



  2. James,

    Love it… what a great perspective. You’d think these companies were in business for themselves… not for their customers. I wonder how old some of those are… and curious what they’d come up with if they were to rewrite them today.


    • Mark Welch says:

      EXACTLY, Annette. They ARE inbusiness for themselves, with little regard for the customer. With the exception of Sky, with whose statement impressed me so much that I checked out their website, the others’ statements speak volumes as to their priorities. Sad.

  3. Thanks for your comments, I think I am preaching to the converted


    • Mark Welch says:

      James – I’d suspect there are many of the unconverted who have read this piece and are contemplating it, yet not ready or willing to share their thoughts. We’ll never know, but I’d bet this article stimulated SOME new thought out there in cyberspace. Nice piece of work.

  4. Hi James,
    Allow me to be a little contrary and suggest that at the heart of altruism is self-interest and that is ok.


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