If you’ve had the chance to attend one of our speaking engagements, you’ll notice we bring a Snickers® bar to every function. Mustang Engineering snagged one of their biggest clients by winning them over with a Snickers® candy bar.

Candy is great and all, but it seems unrealistic to believe that something so small could make such a big impact, right? Obviously, there’s a whole lot more to it than that!

Here’s a short excerpt from Chapter 8 of Mustang the Story about how it all went down:

Our team walked in carrying an easel and the advertising boards – just hoping to get some attention. I then flipped the first board over to reveal the start of our presentation. Written in magic marker were the words:

“MUSTANG WILL SATISFY YOU”

The original presentation boards

I then probably broke all of the protocol rules of Metro and walked over into their space. I had a Kroger plastic shopping bag in my hand and starting with the first board member, I put a large Snickers® bar in front of each of them. Of course I sort of sang the Snickers jingle, Mustang style. Smiling and bouncing a little as I walked down the line, I told them that I wanted them to focus on this presentation…not lunch!! We were going to tell them about a company that is focused on solving their problems. Our feeling was that if we take care of their problems, they will gain trust in us, which will increase efficiency and lead to more work.

I had worked my way down to putting a large Snickers® in front of the last board member, when I said “Oh and here is a small one for your baby”. That comment got everyone on both sides of the room laughing, because she was pregnant but not yet showing. It was very obvious through sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and feeling of empathy, that Mustang was really going to be focused on Metro and their needs.    

By going into the board’s space and getting them laughing, we were able to totally change the whole dynamic of the room. We drew them into a great conversation about their concerns. We talked about how Mustang would help solve those concerns, if Metro would help us minimize the bureaucracy and paperwork required of our people. Before the “Presentation” was over, we were all working together to figure out how to take care of each other in a fully win-win fashion that really felt good and energetic to all participants.

It’s a great success story, but more importantly it helped demonstrate and reinforce three characteristics of work cultures that are other-oriented. Let’s break it down:

  1. Other-oriented cultures consider basic needs first. As Higgs writes, this meeting built trust between Mustang and the client. Small deeds like providing hungry and busy clients with a snack means you care about their needs. Sure, a Snickers® isn’t exactly a balanced food, but in this scenario the thought and gesture matter more than the snack. Higgs and his team demonstrated they considered the client’s basic needs; this ultimately led to a foundation of trust.
  2. Other-oriented cultures require (positive) thinking ahead. As soon as the Mustang team realized their pitch was right before lunch, they anticipated the potential for distraction. Instead of adopting a “we’re doomed!” mentality and trudging through, they found a solution and implemented it immediately.
  3. Other-oriented cultures change the dynamic for the better. Pitch meetings can be stiff, boring, and perhaps worst of all they can be a huge waste of time. Much of this is a result of an atmosphere that is way more serious than it needs to be. By cracking some jokes, singing a popular jingle, and getting everyone to lighten up, the Mustang team shifted that dynamic. This ultimately put the client in the right mindset to listen to Mustang present on how they would take care of Metro efficiently and with great care.

You don’t have to have a clever or quirky solution to every problem to establish your organization’s culture as other-oriented. All you need to do is follow these three mindsets and problem solving tactics, and you’ll be on your way to success.