When most professionals think of Bali they think of warm beaches, deep sea diving, yoga haven, and rice fields and maybe even a little book you may know, called, “Eat, Pray, Love” written by Elizabeth Gilbert. In Bali, you may not be thinking of a new design for business, a new way of visioning your company purpose, and ways of being in service to your customers. Yet these are a few of the things I bring back with me from Bali.
I boarded a plane the day after U.S. Holiday, Thanksgiving, 2015. I began a two-week journey into Bali, the island as an offering. My intention was to enter into a new being-ness and find ways to explore, meditate, and relax. Two weeks later I boarded a plane to return home, never to run my business the same way again.
Bali Business Secret #1: You Don’t Sell A Product, You Sell An Experience
In Bali no matter what you purchase you do not purchase simply an item you purchase its a story. I stayed in three separate hotel/home-stays while on the island. Each location was very different than the previous one. And yet what they all had in common was the dedication to create an experience. From the moment we entered the open air lobbies the staff would greet us by name and each morning as they delivered breakfast they would look us in the eye and smile with gratitude for our presence. When is the last time you visited a retail establishment and they looked you in the eye with a genuine smile, much less called you by name?
The approach with personal attention provides a genuine appreciation for the product and service you have to offer. Reverence for it.
Bali Business Secret #2: Dive In & Help Your Customers Feel Knowledgeable And Safe
A few days into the trip our small group headed out on a diving expedition. The owners of the dive shop picked us up, fitted us with equipment and after 30-40 minute drive across the Indian Ocean we arrived at the dive/snorkel location.
Once the boat was parked divers dived in, snorkelers hit the ocean surface and then one of our travel companions went into sheer terror. In this moment we realized she had never learned to swim. The kind hearted Balinese tour guide, once we were able to translate the concern to him, was excited to give this guest a first time experience. They used the boat flotation devices that allowed her to experience what it felt like to swim under water while the guide swam by her side. How many times have you entered into a company meeting with an exception to the rule and been turned away? In Bali, that never once happened they always made us feel knowledgeable and safe. Do that for your customers to create more success in business.
Bali Business Secret #3: Authentic Handmade Creations Create Value
In a world where production lines and machines have become the norm, In Bali they take a different approach to business. You don’t see many machines anywhere in productivity or manufacturing. As we drove by mile after mile of rice fields we saw no machinery whatsoever. When we asked our tour guide, Dunnah Lee, about that, the reply was. “We do not want to loose jobs our people count on.”
One afternoon we decided to stop at a restaurant and coffee house. The barista, Ketut, walked us through his garden up to the coffee roaster then hosted us for a coffee tasting, which included the famous “cat poo” or Luak coffee.
In a red ocean of products in bloody competition for lowest price and highest volume, while I was in Bali, I purchased bracelets, hats, clothing, yoga experiences, massages, and tours. Items and experiences that I will always remember and see the fingerprints of love on, many years after my trip ended.
How can you put your personal stamp on the product or service you create, even if it isn’t made locally?
Bail Business Success Strategy #4: Got Time?
The precious people of Bali wake up with the sun, participate in their daily spiritual offering practices, most walk or ride a bike to work and happily return home at the end of the day. There is never a rush to get anywhere at a particular time. You see shops open and a few closed at any given time during the day. In Bali, the lifestyle is always, yes, we’ve got time. On an average weekday you can walk down the one lane road to see men and women in ritual dress, honoring the passing of a loved one or the welcoming of a new baby. These are moments deliberately taken each day to celebrate life. The Bali calendar recognizes more than 20 national holidays that are characterized by the celebration of customs and the human experience.
There is no time like the present time. A few weeks in Bali will remind you to honor the people in your company and they will, in turn, honor your customers.
Bali Business Strategy #5: I Will Give You A Discount For Luck
We spent the later part of our trip in Ubud, one of the largest cities on the island of Bali. On our shopping day, we walked through outdoor markets and indoor clothing boutiques. When I purchased a dress that I had been admiring in the window for days, I experienced Bali generosity. The shop owner had me try on the dress in several colors taking photos of each dress on my phone so I could remember what I liked best about each one. In the traditional Hindu way, we bartered on price that is perceived to honor both the buyer and the seller. Upon completion of the transaction, the sales lady took my bills and shook them all over the cash register area in gratitude for the good that had come her way. No bill is ever taken for granted nor is any guest in a shop.
Bali Business Strategy #6: Why You Cause Your Self To Suffer
If your bucket list includes a visit to Bali, I say, do it! Do it now! If possible, get yourself off the main tour routes and hire a local company to help you tour the island with the locals. I would encourage you to avoid staying in Denpasar on Hotel Row. While that would still be a wonderful experience. you may not tap deep into the authentic culture that is Bali.
Our tour guide, Dunnah Lee, was a wise guru of all things Bali, and facilitated our entire trip including home-stays, diving excursions, hot springs, rice fields, meals, temple visits, sun rises and sun sets. On the last day when we were talking about my departure back to the U.S., I asked him what would be the one thing he would invite me to take home with me from my experience in Bali. He said, “Do not cause yourself to suffer.” He went on to say he didn’t understand why business people in my country choose to be apprehensive, anxious, fearful, or overly concerned about business matters. He expressed that when business is done in love, as a beneficial offering, everything always works out for the best for everyone involved.
Bali Business Strategy #7: Your Business As An Offering
Bali has a population of almost 4 million people packed into just over 2,200 square miles. The island has a spirit unlike any other I have experienced in my travels. Approximately 83% of the population is Hindu. The Hindu religion is based on beliefs and behaviors that pay homage to a deity, unlike Christianity and many other prominent religions in The Americas. It is a long-time tradition of ways to understand Universal Truth.
As I reminisce about my days doing business in Bali, I am struck by the commitment to Dharma, also known as “right action”. As a business leader in the world, there is a lot to be learned about operating transformational businesses by observing the ways of business in Bali.
Allow yourself to be joyful and peaceful in business. Let go of the Western belief that doing business means only working hard.