A Difference That Makes No Difference is No Difference

April 18, 2023
8:00 am

A short but powerful fable was published for the first time on April 7, 1837. Through the years, it has proven to be so profoundly impactful that it’s been published in over 100 languages. The tale tells a story of an Emperor who thinks he is presenting one image to his subjects but, in the end, gets exposed and reveals the “naked” truth. 

In Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, two swindlers trick the Emperor into believing they can weave him a beautiful and enchanted garment. The magic of this garment is that fools cannot see it. Only the smart and wise have the gift to view its beauty and splendor. So, as not to be seen as fools, even the Emperor’s closest confidants pretend to see the garment even though they really don’t see a thing.

Upon its supposed completion, the Emperor puts on the invisible suit. He proudly parades down the city center, deceived into believing the glory of this creation will be appreciated by all with the wisdom to see its magnificence. When a child exclaimed, “But he hasn’t got anything on!” others began to confess the obvious. The Emperor was duped into believing that his glorious presentation was something it was not. 

“Culture” has become a buzzword in today’s corporate vocabulary. Countless articles are written about it. Numerous conferences focus on it. A multitude of mission statements contains the word. But without careful, practical, and strategic implementation steps, what we call “culture” is nothing more than the “Emperor’s new clothes.” As a result, we end up deceiving ourselves into believing something is true that, in reality, is not. 

Years ago, I invited a close friend, Alan Martin, to be the featured speaker at an event I had organized to inspire teenagers toward their own personal, powerful, and profound future. Little did I know that while encouraging the teens, Alan would make a statement to those students that would rattle me to my core. My friend said, 

“A Difference That Makes No Difference is No Difference!”

Ponder that statement for a few minutes before reading further. I hope it hits you in the same manner that it hit me. And how apropos that statement is when it comes to culture. Whether you are an individual real estate professional or a team leader, the truth of that exhortation is equally applicable. How tragic would it be to discover that we have talked about culture and have convinced ourselves we are displaying it only to one day have it revealed that we, too, are like the Emperor and have been grievously deceived? 

With that in mind, I present three precepts crucial to the goal of a productive culture that will be the difference that truly makes a difference in your personal or team business.

Culture Germination

Like any living entity, culture must have time to germinate. In the beginning, a seed is dormant. Therefore do not be discouraged by the quietness of development. On the other hand, don’t expect too much too soon. Do not despise small beginnings! Seeds must be planted or sown into fertile soil to come out of dormancy.

Consequently, if you are a Team Leader building a team, be very discerning about who you invite to join the group. Your team members are ultimately your culture’s “seeds.” Some team members will fit in perfectly and produce accordingly; others will be what I call a “culture vulture” and devour what you are trying to create. 

Culture Cultivation

Weeds are expected. Hence having good gardening tools are a prerequisite to a productive culture field or environment. Sharpening, honing, preparing, and enhancing your leadership skill tools is required. Those skills include such imperatives as becoming an expert communicator; living with honor and respect for others; prompt replies or responses; being slow to speak and quick to listen; celebrating the successes of others and not just your own; creating an atmosphere of acceptance; and having fun! Be jealous of these characteristics in your personal life or any team you might have or are developing.

Culture Replication: 

Seeds produce after their own kind. Wisdom is in the phrase, “Be fruitful and then multiply!” We often focus on multiplication rather than fruit (culture). But doing so is shortsighted and only results in temporary results. Focusing on fruit first offers sustenance that provides for today and tomorrow. Consequently, focus on fruit and multiplication will come. 

You must take time to determine what you want to be produced and exemplified in your business or team. Do you want peace or pressure? Do you want a family feel or an infestation of fear? Do you want kindness or chaos? The stark reality is that it all begins with you. So take careful inventory and be honest with what lurks from within yourself. Life, character, and speech exude from the abundance of our hearts. 

A difference that makes no difference is no difference. The Emperor could certainly testify to that fact. Therefore, determine that culture will not simply be talked about but demonstrated both personally and professionally through the fruit of your business interactions, experiences, and practices. Doing so will produce a magical garment that will not only be attractive to those around you but also prove to be incredibly productive in nurturing your sphere of influence, which in turn results in a funnel of lead generation that will be sustainable and profitable.

Written by William “Billy” Nunez
Director of Culture, Fathom Realty
Florida State Broker