Today sees President Obama receiving his Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his initial attempts to make the world we live in a better place. His roots in working in social care make President Obama somewhat different to many previous presidents, who came from business or law. Rather than seeking to divide and rule, much of what he tries to do is based on attempting to help other people as best he can. So ask yourself a question: which kind of people do you like the most? Those who divide and rule, or those who are less selfish and try to help others?
The chances are you will choose the helpful kind of person over the selfish one. Indeed, recent research from the University of California at Berkeley suggests that the helpful, altruistic individuals around us are the ones that are doing best in our modern society. They call their notion “survival of the kindest” and are suggesting that selfishness actually works against us. Who are the most reviled people in the world at the moment? The Taliban? Al-Qaeda? Knife-wielding thugs? No. It’s those people in suits in London’s Square Mile. Their apparent selfishness in demanding million pound bonuses for going to work and doing their job appals many people. Selfishness and greed – we don’t like them.
Yet, littered across the Internet are countless examples of selfishness and lack of altruism. The “get rich quick” brigade are frequently selfish, don’t help other people and are interested only in gloating about their bank account to try and foster envy amongst the rest of us. It doesn’t work; we don’t like this peacock-like behaviour. Similarly, the big businesses who are clearly more interested in profit than they are in us as people tend to get criticism and disdain. The airline industry is a great example here. “Unbundling” their prices and charging us for each bag we want to take on, for each drink we want – and perhaps even for going to the toilet – demonstrates that their focus is on income and profit rather than helping us as passengers. The mobile phone industry achieved much greater success when it went from focusing on separate prices for everything and bundled it all together in packages designed for individuals. In other words, they were demonstrating some degree of trying to help us as people, rather than help themselves to our cash.
Everywhere you look there are examples of the helpful person surviving and the selfish ones only really getting short-term gain. So, the question is, how does your web presence indicate your altruistic side? How does your website promote your helpfulness? How does your pricing strategy show you are focused on helping other people, rather than trying to make a profit?
The more your online business focuses on helping others, the greater its chances of long-term survival it seems. In other words, President Obama’s strategy of trying as best he can to help others (or at least make it seem that way) is why you get awards and plaudits – even if you haven’t actually achieved anything yet.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+