Written by Claudia Pharoah, Marketing Manager
‘As an employer, you can train every single other skill you need in your staff. You can train them to learn new techniques or do different jobs; you can train them what to do and what to say. But you can’t train a smile.’ – Richard Branson
It was over 3 years ago now that the article ‘You Can’t Train A Smile’ appeared on the myvirgin.com blog.
I have always found Richard Branson’s online content to be of great value. For anyone interested in brand building and the wider context of business development, I cannot recommend his articles highly enough – the posts are short, uplifting and bring an (often lacking) human perspective to the corporate sphere. I always encourage my marketing team to keep on top of his topics.
Unlike many other influential business leaders, despite being a notoriously busy mega-entrepreneur, Richard Branson (somehow) finds the time to create his own online content.
When challenged on the authenticity of this content, the serial entrepreneur is quoted as saying ‘If it wasn’t really me posting my virgin.com blogs, people would spot it a mile off. Inauthenticity is easy to sniff out. I love sharing what is happening in my world.’ Which is good enough proof for me that he’s at least heavily involved in the blog creation process.
In any case, Branson’s messages sink in very easily. Somehow they’re always memorable and in today’s world of content-saturation, that indicates they must be of both high interest and relevance.
The ‘You Can’t Train A Smile’ article itself was such a simple sentiment, but the more I reflected on what exactly Richard was trying to say – the more I have come to internalise the message and bring that message into my professional role at CuCo.
In the article, Branson says ‘As an employer, you can train every single other skill you need in your staff. You can train them to learn new techniques or do different jobs; you can train them what to do and what to say. But you can’t train a smile.’
Everyone knows that the most important thing about a business is its people. If you hire brilliant people with a positive can-do attitude, you have a far better chance of building a brilliant business.
Plus leadership and mentoring are just as important as hiring effervescent people in my opinion.
Really good leaders will notice when someone in their team is not smiling, and see what they can do to bring out a smile in that person.
I have been incredibly fortune in my role at CuCo in that our Agency Directors are both interested and passionate leaders.
The culture at our agency means that personality and dedication are not only encouraged but rewarded. And that culture didn’t just happen by accident.
Imagine being at sea. A great captain must not only command respect, but must also show his/her crew that he/she actually cares. Once they do that they will almost certainty spend the voyage sailing on a happy ship – a ship that probably gets to it’s destination faster too.
You get the picture.
Back here on land and within the walls of an agency, consider how easily a smile can be heard over the phone – it shows up in the person’s voice.
In my experience a happy, hardworking team is felt most strongly by an agency’s clients themselves. And clients want to work with happy, hardworking people. Happy clients equals more clients which then equals the need for a bigger team and so the agency grows.
Also important to remember is that when a storm comes, it’s your team who will be the ones crewing your beloved ship through that storm.
I wholeheartedly agree with Richard Branson, you can’t train a smile.
Not a genuine smile anyway – and you can always tell if someone’s smile is genuine – the person’s eyes shine and their whole face lights up.
That is untrainable.
So what can you do?
I believe the best course of action is thus:
1.Increase your focus on hiring positive, enthusiastic people into your agency.
2. Invest in those people. Create an agency culture and style of leadership that is conducive to a team that walks into the office smiling each morning.
Oh, and don’t forget to read Richard Branson’s blog at myvirgin.com.