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Revisiting “We Owe it to Our Customers to Make Their Lives Better” (Thinks Out Loud)

Photo of customers shaking hands with business team to illustrate the idea of making our customers lives better

We’re more than halfway through the first quarter of 2023. The year is well on its way, but there’s also plenty of time ahead to decide what kind of year you want to have for your business — and what kind of year you want to give your customers. And that seems like as good a time as any to revisit the idea that we owe it to our customers to make their lives better.

Yes, we want to have an amazing year. Yes, I’m optimistic about your ability to do that. More than that, I’m a big believer in your ability to discover the possibilities that exist for your brand, your business, your customers, and your community. I’m endlessly hopeful about what we all can do — you, me, our teams, and all the people we interact with on a daily basis.

What else makes me hopeful about the future? What makes me so passionate about the possibilities that await us? That’s what this episode of Thinks Out Loud is all about.
Want to know more? Here are the show notes for you.

We Owe It To Our Customers to Make Their Lives Better — Headlines and Show Notes

Show Notes and Links

Here are this week’s show notes for Thinks Out Loud with links and news related to this week’s episode. Be sure to check out all the links that matter for your business once you’ve given the episode a listen.

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We have some free downloads for you to help you navigate the current situation, which you can find right here:

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Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 19m 09s

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Transcript: Revisiting We Owe It To Our Customers to Make Their Lives Better

Well, hello again everyone, and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital information your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode 361 of the big show, and I am thrilled to be back with you.

Why I Believe in the Future

And in a roundabout way that leads to what I want to talk about today. And this is roundabout, I’m going to be very honest. I want to start by saying that I believe in the future, and when you look at the state of the world today, when you look at where we don’t always have the best headlines or there’s some terrible things going on in various parts of the world, there’s a war going on.

There’s people who can’t agree on basic facts. Sometimes it’s understandable. If you’re like, "Well, why in the world would you believe in the future? Why in the world would you be hopeful? Are you some sort of Pollyanna or something like that?" And the reason I believe in the future is because I believe in the great work that I get to see people do every day.

Remarkable Builders in the World: "Possibilists"

For instance, just the other day I was talking to someone whose company is legitimately working on a potential vaccine for cancer, which is mind boggling. It just fills me with such hope.
And I think that great marketers and great business leaders and great product innovators and great entrepreneurs are optimists to a point, but I prefer the term possibilist. I love this term. You’ve heard me mention it before. I got it from the book, Factfulness by the late Hans Rosling.

What is a Possibilist?

A possibilist is a bit different than an optimist. As Rosling said, possibilist means someone who neither "…hopes without reason, nor fears without reason, someone who constantly resists the overdramatic worldview. As a possibilist, I see all this progress and it fills me with conviction and hope that further progress is possible. This is not optimistic. It is having a clear and reasonable idea about how things are. It is having a worldview that is constructive and useful."

And I love that. Possiblist people who look at the world that way, recognize the reality of where we are. We know that things aren’t always great. You’ve heard me mention the Stockdale Paradox before. It’s in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, among many other places where James Stockdale, Admiral James Stockdale, was the highest ranking prisoner of war in Vietnam, who recognized that they were in terrible situations and also looked forward to a better outcome at some point. It’s a world view that is constructive and useful.

Possibilists Try

People who are possibilist aren’t afraid to try things. They’re not afraid to be wrong. Obviously you want to be right, but they’re willing to go out on a limb from time to time. It’s not blind risk. It’s about assessing where you are, assessing where you want to be in the future, assessing what might stop you and then moving forward to make that future happen.

Possibilists Build Positive Stories

Another thing that I think possibilists do, and this is very much aligned with Admiral Stockdale. When faced with a setback, possibilists don’t see that setback as the end of the story. We see it, at worst, as maybe middle. Sometimes it’s even the beginning of an entirely new story.

I’ll give you an example. A company I’ve worked with for years on and off recently closed its doors. They had a number of setbacks and as sometimes happens, realized that they didn’t have a viable path forward in their current form.

And yet, even as they were working through the process of winding down the business, when I talked with the remarkable builders within the organization, when I talked with the execs and the individual contributors alike, people who were committed to successful outcomes for this organization, they talked again and again and again about being disappointed with how things ended up, being a little sad, of course, and also about all of the things that they were looking forward to accomplishing next. They don’t see the company shut down as the end of a story. They see it as the beginning of an entirely new one.

Possibilists Make Their Customers’ Lives Better

And the reason that this fills me with such hope, not just about this company and not just about any company, but because they see their jobs as making their customers lives better, and they see this as an opportunity to do that, maybe not in the way they thought they would, but they still see plenty of opportunity to make their customers lives better. We owe it to our customers to make their lives better.

And by we, I mean you, right? We are all in this together.

We Don’t Tear Down; We Build

I talk a lot about content marketing. I talk a lot about how we create content to tell a story to our customers and the like. And you can make a great living on the internet with hot takes that stir the pot and get people all angered up, all fired up. I refer to it as the Takes Industry, somebody with a hot take about X or Y or Z, and that is built to find flaws. It is built to incite outrage and dissent. We know that nothing goes viral as far or fast as anger. So if you want to go viral, if you want to get a message out, go ahead and piss people off. You’ll blow up all over the place. But that’s not building, that’s tearing down. That’s destroying, and it’s not making people’s lives better.

Two Things Can Be True at Once

One of the reasons you don’t hear me bash the AGFAM, Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft very often, or big tech, whatever you want to call them, more is because it doesn’t help necessarily. Now, I don’t want to sound like a Pollyanna. We have to remember that two things can be true at once. Sometimes the AGFAM, the big tech players do terrible things and we should 1000% hold them to account when they do. If that’s your scene, if that’s what you’re into, the team and I are working on an episode about the future of search that you’ll hear in a couple of weeks, where we’ll say some things, I’ll have some things to say about gatekeepers like Google and Amazon that you’re not going to want to miss. But the point isn’t to just bash them, it’s to hold them to account while also acknowledging, hey, they sometimes do wonderful things. I mentioned a few weeks ago about some of Google’s new AR search tools like Search with Live View and their Lens AR translate.

Two things can be true at once. We have to hold both of these things in our head at the same time to say, "How do we understand where we are? How do we understand what problems we’re facing? How do we understand what problems our customers are facing? And then how can we make it better from them?" So when we talk about big tech, when we talk about the AGFAM, it’s about how we can work with them, where we must ignore them where we can, and make our customers lives better in either case. Way back when people used to refer to it as coopetition, right? As in "cooperate" and "compete," "cooperate" and "competition" put together, because that’s the world we live in. Digital makes that a reality again and again and again.

Possibilists Fight Problems, Not People

Now, you could call it knowing your enemy. You could call it picking your battles, but I would suggest that possibilists only fight where it’s truly necessary. And when we do, we fight problems, not people. Possibleists and entrepreneurs and creators aren’t about picking fights. They’re about solving problems. They don’t look at the world in terms of "either/or." We’re about "both/and."

How do we do those things together? It’s not about subtraction and division. It’s about addition and multiplication. And, if we get it really right, exponentiation. Getting exponentially better and making it exponentially better for our customers and for the people we care about.

By "We" I Mean "You"

And I said this a minute ago. When I say "we," I mean "you." I know you do this too. And sure, sometimes it’s tougher. Sometimes you’re facing challenges a la the company I just referred to or the hurricane I just went through down here, everybody has bad stuff happen to them from time to time.
I’ve known plenty of people who have had more than their fair share. And yet I remember a former boss telling me the story of if you got 10 people to stand in a circle and everyone could throw their problems in a pile in the middle of the circle and then ask those folks to choose which problems they’d want, most people would take their own back.

One of my long time mentors, one of my dear friends, has dealt for years with a couple of very serious health situations, not just of his own, but also of family members. So he doesn’t just have to deal with his own problems, he’s watching other people he loves deal with these things. And some of them are tough for me to imagine how I would deal with it. And yet he’s also one of the most productive, professional and downright pleasant people I’ve ever known.

I’ve seen him create new ideas and drive them to completion. I’ve seen him build new companies. More importantly, I’ve seen him build up the people around them to ensure that they’re more successful in what they do. He inspires me every day and hopefully hearing about people like this or if you know people like this in your lives, they inspire you too. And as I’ve said, we’ve all had setbacks, I’ve had setbacks, I’ve had challenges. Of course, I can see things in the world that I want to change and that I realize there are things out there that are kind of terrible for many, many people. I totally get that.

I also fully realize how very lucky I am. I have friends and family and health and resources that not everybody else is blessed with. I get that. It’s not that I have no problems, it’s just that I think it’s unfair for me to add my challenges to your pile. You don’t want to be standing in the circle looking at my stuff and saying, "Why do I have to take that on?" Remember, we are here to make it better for our customers. We’re here to make it better for our communities. And so I try to do the same for you.

Conclusion: We Owe It To Our Customers to Make Their Lives Better

And that, at the end of the day, is why I believe in the future, because I’m pretty confident that if you listen to this show regularly, you believe in the future too. I believe that you believe that we owe it to our customers to make their lives better. You believe that you can see where things aren’t right today. You believe that you can come up with a solution and you believe that you can make your customers lives better when we get right down to it. That’s why I believe in the future. It’s because I believe in you, and I have to tell you, I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Show Credits

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today’s episode as well as an archive of all past episodes by going to
Again, that’s Just look for episode 361.

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Don’t forget that you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcaster every single week. You can also find Thinks Out Loud wherever fine podcasts are found. Just look for us on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, Overcast, you name it, we should be there.

Leave a Review for Thinks Out Loud

While you’re there, I would also very much appreciate it if you could provide a positive rating and review for the show. If you like what you heard today, if you like the show, if you want to hear more, it would mean so, so much to me and be so helpful to other listeners if you told them all about it helps them find the show. It helps them understand what we’re all about here. It helps get the word out.

It helps grow the community here, Thinks Out Loud, and it would mean so very much to me.

Thinks Out Loud on Social Media

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on social media. You can find us on LinkedIn by going to

You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @TCPeter, and of course you can email me by sending an email to Again, that’s

Show Outro

With all that said, I just want to say once more how much I appreciate you listening. It means the world to me. We are going through weird times. I said at the top of the show, I said throughout the show that the world is not perfect, and I recognize that your life day to day may have its ups and downs, and the fact that you take a little bit out of your very, very valuable day, your very, very valuable week, your very, very valuable life to listen to the show means more than I can say. So sincerely, thank you very, very much. With that sentiment, I hope you have a great rest of the week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I do look forward speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and as always, take care.

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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