16 Oct How much does EQ matter in an Organization?
Brighton Jones is proving that it can matter a lot.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Cory Custer and Keith Brennan from Brighton Jones. I met Keith at a local networking event. He is a business development manager but I could tell right away that there was something a little different about him and the way he interacted with people.
As we began to talk, Keith mentioned the MESI program which stands for Mindfulness-based Emotional and Social Intelligence. He also offered to introduce me to Cory, the Director of Compassion at Brighton Jones. With such interesting titles and programs, I jumped at the offer for follow up conversations.
Keith and I met again a few weeks later and I began to learn about Brighton Jones. Keith described their organization as providing personal CFO services that help individuals and families live a richer life. As I dug a bit deeper into what that meant, I found out how Brighton Jones differs from other financial planning organization.
Most of the financial planners I have spoken with assume that I just want to be prepared for retirement. Brighton Jones understands that people want the freedom to do more of the things that they enjoy and have a passion for throughout their entire life, not just after they retire.
Brighton Jones planners start by gaining and understanding of what it is that makes you happy. They then use that information to design a plan that meets your needs and gives you the ability to live the life you want to live.
Another exceptional aspect of the conversation with Keith was that I never once felt pressured to buy services and I was actually interested in learning more about what they do as opposed to many similar conversations I have had.
Following the conversation with Keith, I had the pleasure of speaking with Cory a couple of times. Cory is an ex-business owner who decided he wanted to focus on quality of life. He joined Brighton Jones four years ago to help build out the MESI program which was the main focus of our conversation.
As mentioned, MESI stands for Mindfulness-based Emotional and Social Intelligence. The program is a self-paced system of leveling based on Daniel Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence among other sources. Cory shared a thought from the Dali Lama to help me understand their approach: If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
Everybody in the organization is required to go through an initial training program, but after that, participation is voluntary. I asked Cory how they keep people engaged. He responded that the main reason people stay engaged is that they become better people. Participants tend to get positive feedback from their friends and family. The feedback and feelings of well-being are enough to keep people interested and progressing through the program.
The company’s performance is also a strong motivator for continuing the program. Brighton Jones was founded in 1999 and as of Feb 2019, they have lifetime customer retention numbers north of 98%. They also have an average annual growth of around 25% and Net Promoter Score in the mid to high 70s which Cory says is on the same levels as brands like Apple, Nordstrom and Google.
According to both Keith and Cory, a lot of the success can be attributed to the philosophy and vision of co-founder and CEO Jon Jones. He set out with the mission of building the type of company that he (or anybody else) would want to work for. With all the great things I have heard and experienced so far, he seems to be succeeding.
They also contribute their success to their Chief Compassion Officer – Stitch the French Bulldog (pictured above). He provides the organization with a strong example of how to be compassionate in any situation.
The MESI program has been in place for about three years now and I asked Cory what the next steps are. He said they are beginning to offer workshops to clients and non-profits to help others share in the benefits and to do their part to make the world a better place.
So, how much difference does EQ make? If companies like Brighton Jones are having this kind of success, I would say EQ can be a game-changer.