For instance, my best friend is a benchmark of how I would like a partner or person in my life to conduct themselves. Last night I had dinner with him and I was once again reminded about how beautiful it is to be treated like a woman. He does all the things men should do when they are going out to dinner with a woman; open the door, wait for the woman to be seated, stand up if she leaves the table, discreetly pay the bill and have conversations that are meaningful, supportive, encouraging and that gives you connection with the person sitting at the table.
He is always polite, he cares about the community, politics, charities, family and business - not in that order may I add. He dresses impeccably and always for the occasion. He makes everyone feel at home and comfortable, is very social and super smart. His business acumen is second to none. I absolutely adore him and in his company, I always feel special.
Now, if you asked any of his other close friends, they would say exactly the same. He is a benchmark of what a good person is. But note: he is my friend.
In business, there are so many companies that I look at and want to be like. Typically, they are not the companies out there screaming to be heard, self-promoting or trying too hard. They are the companies that effortlessly conduct themselves in a way that is admirable. It may mean that they treat their employees exceptionally well or that they innovate more than anyone else in their industry.
Apple. I would like my business to be the Apple of small business marketing.Innovative, quality, functional, serves purpose, inspirational, industry-leading, global, marketing savvy, communicative. Apple is all of these things and more.
Google. There are so many areas of the Google business that sets a benchmark in my eyes but largely it revolves around employees and marketing. Their employees have freedom to be who they want to be and are encouraged to look outside the square, innovate and live a full life. Their marketing is ever changing and Google's business smarts have got us all locked in.
You will note that there is no small business that I have acknowledged here and there is a reason why. If you are a small business, and a true entrepreneur, you have not made it. So entering a host of awards about how great you are as a company, may only mean you have given yourself a pat on the back - but the true indication of how good a company is for instance, as an employer, is the ability to ensure that every employee whether they are number 15 or 22989, has the same consistent experience with your brand, values and culture. Now, that's a real test of being a good employer. As for success, are you really successful because your business has a high turnover, or are you successful because you have a multimillion dollar profit, which you share with your employees and with good causes?
Everything is subjective, but having a benchmark always reminds me that I can do better and be better. Not a bad way to live.