Great Escape Podcast episode 36 - What's your ethos?


I'm helping a friend fill in an application for an award ceremony in the industry that she's in. And the first question is, what is the ethos of your organization? Well, it's kinda difficult to answer that question if it's just you as a self employed person, because you're immediately thinking, "But I'm not an organization." But nevertheless, you still have an ethos, the way you do business. Google used to have a kind of mission statement, a thing that said, don't be evil. Interestingly, they dropped that which I found a fascinating insight into the way the company was moving. But having an ethos, having a way you do things, having a kind of a DNA to the way your business exists, is actually really important. And often that way things are done stems from the culture of the person or the people who set up that business. And if you're just a one man band, or a one lady band, then obviously it's pretty easy. It's you, it's the way you do things. If you like to do things in a quality way, or if you like to be generous, if you like to do things quickly, then your business will reflect that aspect of your personality. If you are thorough, if you're a bit slapdash, then the business will reflect those aspects of your personality. But they don't have to. So actually, it's pretty easy to realize, so for me, I'm pretty disorganized, but I don't want my businesses to come over to my customers as being pretty disorganized. So I try very hard, not always successful, to put systems in place to make sure that the business comes over as reasonably organized. So, my diary management is something that I'm absolutely fastidious about. Occasionally things go wrong, but very, very rarely because basically, if it's in my diary, it happens. And if it's not in my diary, it probably isn't gonna happen. So that's a way I've built a system to make up for a personality flaw that I have. And I think that's something that we can do is we can think carefully about how we want our business to exist in the world. What kind of personality do we want it to have? What is it, ethos? What is the thinking behind the way this business exists and does business? And then we need to set about creating the environment in which that ethos can be best delivered. So in my case is build systems to make sure that things don't get forgotten. All of these things can create what the customer then sees. So we had a situation the other day where a customer paid for a high ticket product, which was... Yeah, we had some pretty strict terms and conditions around it because it costs us a lot to deliver that product. And they had got a health issue which meant they needed to cancel. And our terms and conditions say, after a certain period of time, no refunds. And one of my admin team contacted me and explained the situation. And I said to them, "You know what the answer is here, don't you?" And they said, "Yeah, we just wanted to check." And the answer is, be generous first. So my organization, that particular business, one of its ethos is, one of its defining characters is generosity first. And so that person got a full refund. And, yeah, we lost a bit of money on that. Not a huge amount. We hadn't really started the delivery on it. So we hadn't spent too much money. But actually given their circumstances, I think that was the right thing to do. It was the generous thing to do. It was the caring thing to do. Now, occasionally, somebody might try and take the piss and take advantage of our generosity. And we try and spot when those times are happening, and we stick to our terms and conditions. But most of the time, people don't. Similarly, there was a post in a group on Facebook that I follow the other day saying, we're seeing customers actually posting in for saying, if this course is too expensive, is anybody prepared to go halves with me? So basically, that's somebody saying, "I'm gonna share the login to this course "with somebody else," which is against the terms and conditions of that particular business and it's bad practice. In fact, it's a form of theft, 'cause two people are then getting access for half the price each, when it's something you need to buy one of. It's like two people going into an all you can eat buffet and having a sit down meal, but only paying for one person, the buffet, which really isn't all. And I was thinking about this. I was thinking, "How do we respond to customers doing that?" And actually, part of my thinking is, you know what, you could spend a huge amount of time and energy and money trying to track down the customers that were sharing log-ons, you could look for IP addresses appearing twice. But the reality is, those two customers were unlikely to purchase the course at full price anyway. So actually, the fact that between them they've paid for one copy means you've sold another copy that you wouldn't have sold if you had spent a lot of time and energy and money preventing them from doing that. So I decided, "Actually you know what guys, "within our organization, "if it is an online only product "where we're not having to ship out something, "then let's not waste time tryna prevent people "from sharing a log on "because they wouldn't have done it anyway." And the generosity first ethos, sorry things are gonna drop near me. That's what they're bouncing noises. That generosity first ethos creates a culture of generosity that cuts both ways, that our customers realize that we treat them generously, we treat them honestly. If we mess up, we fess up about it. We are honest about it. And it means they tend to treat us fairly as well. So ethos is a really important defining character. And if you're sitting there thinking, "I'm gonna start my own business," one of the things that you need to think about is, how does that business exist in the world? What is its ethos? What is its way of doing things?

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Great Escape podcast. You can find other episodes at all the usual places on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify, or at the website, And if you'd like to contact me, to talk about any element of this episode or others I have covered, please go to, and you can find all the ways of getting hold of me there. And if you're stuck in a situation and you can't find the way out, please go there, send me a message and let's see how we can work together to get you unstuck and moving forward with your life again. Please do share this podcast with your friends and family, other people you think might appreciate it, and comment on episodes or send me a message. I'd love to keep the conversation.

Book a discovery call with Stuart now

Schedule your free 30 minute call now to see how Change Coaching can help you transform your life more quickly and with long lasting results

Book my call now!

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.