In a few words, you can sometimes find your voice

April 24, 2011

I was sitting next to a local jeweler the other day who told me: We don’t sell diamonds. We sell romance.

Anything else is just a piece of carbon.

Well, when you put it that way, I thought, it seems almost rude to ask about prices.

Sometimes people forget about the power of words. A simple phrase can go a long way in articulating a vision.

Tim O’Shaughnessy, the chief executive of D.C.-based LivingSocial, said it is wrong to think of the online coupon site as a mere daily deals business. The Internet e-commerce juggernaut is on a crusade. It is “redefining local commerce,” he said.

Now, there is a big idea, an ambitious mission befitting a multibillion-dollar valuation.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ chief executive, reminisced the other day about how the chain had lost its way not so long ago. Morale was down. It was time to win back the trust of the troops. Starbucks, he told them, is not a “coffee company that serves people. It’s a people company that serves coffee.”

The employees apparently liked what they heard, service improved, and the customers returned.

Slogans help keep people focused. The federal government declares it has a “cloud-first” policy, giving preference to Web-based applications, and suddenly it seems every technology company and contractor in Washington has scrubbed the words “Web” and “Internet” from their marketing.

They are all cloud purveyors now.

Last week, on our one-year anniversary, the Capital Business team held a celebratory lunch and then settled down for a little afternoon retreat to brainstorm about ideas going forward.

Year one was all about producing the paper you hold in your hands, and about creating a successful business.

Year two is about making the paper better and building out our Web presence, all while finding ways to better interact with you.

Capital Business is not simply a weekly newspaper covering the local business community.

We’re out to become the region’s voice of an entrepreneurial generation.

Dan Beyers is the founding editor of Capital Business, The Washington Post’s go-to source for news about the region’s business community.
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