As a father of three sons (ages 23, 16, and 12), I realized a long time ago that children have a knack for being able to teach adults… if we can stop long enough to pay attention to what is going on around us. When I allow myself to see the world through the eyes of my children or others that I am around, it inevitably results in a better understanding of what they see and face on a daily basis. I have to remember that I am not a know-it-all adult but rather a person who is committed to continuous learning and development, including obtaining wisdom from children.
The impact that children can have on adults does not include our professional lives – or does it? I have concluded that yes, children can shape our understanding of business. This view was reinforced after reading about how a 9-year-old boy had started a cause and given away a trip to Disneyworld to the family of a fallen soldier. Brendan Haas launched his Soldier for a Soldier Facebook page in February. The idea was to trade items with other people, increasing the value of items traded until he had acquired airfare, hotel, and gift certificates to give to a fallen soldier’s family a trip to Disneyworld. It began with Brendan trading one of his toy soldiers and culminated on Memorial Day with him giving away a trip to the family of a Massachusetts soldier killed in Afghanistan last year. An awesome story of selflessness, taught by a 9-year-old.
What is the takeaway for business, you might be wondering? For me, Brendan Haas and Soldier for a Soldier provide a lesson in branding. Brands are defined by a purpose, a reason for existence. That purpose permeates through every decision, product, advertisement, employee… you get the picture. Brendan Haas’ purpose led to creation of the Soldier for a Soldier cause. Too often, companies undertake cause marketing campaigns as if it is a “flavor of the month” tactic. The supported cause may be worthy, but the execution of the campaign does not demonstrate a direct relationship with the brand’s values.
Job well done, young Brendan Haas! Thank you for the lesson that brands should be directed by a purpose. I have a feeling Brendan is not through yet fulfilling his purpose through Solider for a Soldier or in some other way.