Ruthless.

If you watched nothing but “Billions” and “House of Lies” on cable, you would believe the business world can only be described that way.

Win the day at any cost just makes up the DNA of these colorful casts. Do what it takes to knock the other guy out. Leave nothing for them. Conquer and divide.

But I’m here to tell you that in the real world, I see a different picture.

Let me explain…

Last weekend my business partner and I attended the Oregon Small Business Fair at Warner Pacific College as one of over 50 exhibitors. We met all kinds of entrepreneurs, from web design firms to nutritionists, Six Sigma consultants to machine works engineers, and just about everything in between.

Not only did we find these small business folks friendly to us, but we witnessed them being respectful to each other. Even when a pair working the same niche would cross paths.

In our soon-to-be-released book about the rise of Benefit Corporations, we discuss the Triple ‘P’ Bottom Line. Where business is no longer just about profit, but also focused on people and planet.

At least that’s the way enlightened leaders of such companies as Nossa Familia Coffee in Portland, Soapbox in Virginia and New Seasons Market in Oregon see it.

Doing good with people means respecting all stakeholders in a business. From employees to customers, vendors to, drum roll please, competitors.

No longer do these small progressive companies see their niche peers as “the hated enemy.”

This is all a far cry from my early days in the ad agency business when the battle cry for new accounts went along the lines of “get tough or die.” When all that mattered was winning the piece of business, period. If the ‘enemy’s blood’ needed to be spilled, so be it.

And so it went.

Today, I see a different way business is approached. Sure, it’s still competitive. Sure, we want to win that account. But I will say that at least as small business goes, we wholeheartedly respect the peers in our niche. We applaud their efforts when they earn a win and we didn’t.

And from what I witnessed on Saturday, I’m convinced we are not the only ones who view business that way. Who says competitors can’t respect and even admire each other for brilliant efforts and outstanding work?

So to all who cast a wary eye on the business world, we humbly suggest there is room for a lot of optimism. Because as B Corps, Benefit Corporations and Benefit Companies become more common, a new standard is being set for companies in the 21st century.

And it’s a standard I saw up close and personal on a small college campus last Saturday.

~hcollaborative.com~