The purpose of business is to solve problems
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - October 25, 2020 - 12:00am

I laughed so hard when I came across this story.

One day this person took his turn; while the others were seated, he even stood up and gave a rousing speech. He talked about how he is not a quitter, why he will never be a quitter, and why nobody loves a quitter. He was kicked out after the impressive speech he gave in a 12-step program. That was a wrong message for people in a program that is designed to make them quit their addiction. It is obvious that this speaker does not know what he is talking about.

A young man who ambitioned to be a speaker worked for me for a few years. I mentored him. He read the books I recommended. He improved his communication skills, heck, even copied my stories and jokes and embellished it a little. There was only one problem; The more he learned, the more talkative he became. Maybe he equated speaking with talking.

I was in a conversation with a business owner. We were discussing his needs and requirements for the training that he wanted me to do. This kid beside me listened to our conversation. After a while, he started butting in and gave a lot of advice and proposed solutions. I did not know whether he was impressing the client or me with his supposedly “knowhow” but saying that I was uncomfortable would be an understatement. I was furious!

Have you ever experienced that high agitated emotional moment when you are upset, yet out of courtesy, you had to keep your peace and keep your mouth shut as you do not want to embarrass or humiliate people? My thoughts were saying. “Look at the arrogance of this kid. He is lecturing this businessman on doing his business when he has never had his own business but feels like he knows more.” I caught a very quick frown from the client’s face. But he was polite; he nodded his head as this young person kept rambling on and on how this entrepreneur should run his business.

After the meeting, I had to teach the kid. “Did you notice I was quietly listening to the client trying to figure out what his issues and needs are that necessitates my intervention? You kept on babbling away with your supposedly “knowhow.” Which, in my opinion, were way off course and sounded senseless to the client. You should have quietly listened and try to put yourself in his shoes and understand his needs.

The kid never changed. I gave up. He had talent, but he had character deficiency. He thinks that speaking and training is to stand in front of people to impress them with what he knows. He fails to understand that clients do not pay good money to be impressed, but they invest in training to have their needs met and their problems solved. Clients want “returns” in productivity and performance from their people as a result of the training.

It’s been many years now. This young kid is no longer young. He tried to enter the speaking circuit but dropped out after a year or two. Why? Nobody wants his service because he could not deliver. He provides clichés, motherhood statements, funny antics, and jokes, but he does not meet the clients’ needs. I am willing to wager that even after he has finished his speeches or program, he still does not know what the client’s needs are.

The purpose of business is to solve problems. Sometimes this is forgotten by speakers and even salespeople too. Once they come face to face with their clients, they start impressing them with their know-how and the product features they have without even knowing what the client’s needs are, and then they wonder why they never had a sale.

Business is all about providing a solution for the client’s needs and helping them solve problems. It is never about impressing clients with the company’s bigness, the sophisticated presentation you make, and let me be blunt; it has got nothing to do with you. But it has everything to do with how you can help make their lives and businesses better.

Advertising giant and legend David Ogilvy can be too straightforward and harsh when he said: “Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon.” This infestation does not only cover advertising agencies as you can find it everywhere. We need to stop impressing people with what we know, but express desire and capability to serve needs and solve problems. The real impressive people are those who do not have to put up a front to impress anyone. They let their actions and knowhow speak louder than their words.



(Connect with Francis Kong at Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 dzFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch,’ the classical music station.)

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with