Why do some companies do better than others?

The following post is taken as a Q&A from a friend, Shane, co-founder of Content.ly. I figured we could all benefit from these insights: Shane: Who's the most innovative person you know of?

Lauryn: I think everyone is the most innovative person I know. I don't believe that anyone is inherently more or less "innovative" than anyone else, and if I were to be completely honest, I spend very little time understanding or commenting on the creativity of others. I think it's more about cultivating our own, personal access to the creativity within and then being brave enough to share it with the world.

I would, however, dare to say that nature is the most creative force I know of. How can you explain the fluttering of a butterfly, the intricate design of the Grand Canyon or the color scheme of an endless rainbow?

The truth is that the most "creative" people are curators. We are all curators. It's a false idea to think that we create anything when physics proves that energy cannot be created nor destroyed and everything is energy. Thus we more or less move things around as opposed to virgin creation.

Shane: What's the most innovative company you know of?

Lauryn: Hm. This is a tough one. First, I'll define innovative. Innovative to me is where common sense meets great design. A lot of what people call innovative is simply good business or the art of being a great human being.

That being said, two companies I really like are Charles Schwab and LuLuLemon. Charles Schwab is innovative in that they give people what they want (go figure). Innovation isn't that crazy of a concept. Most times it's giving people what they want (and a tad bit more) in an industry that is historically denying everyone of that desire. Charles Schwab has amazing customer service. They answer the phone 24/7, everyone speaks really good English (which is important to a lot of people), they have no ATM fees and if you are charged something, they pay you back at the end of the month. So they're pleasant, speak English and don't charge you annoying fees. Not bad?

LuLuLemon is a recent favorite of mine. They have yoga clothes that are stylish, eco-friendly, great quality and don't fade, shrink or change shape over time. They do what you would want any good retailer to do but what ironically enough, most companies fail to do. I don't mind paying a higher price point because I know I'm paying for quality.

Shane: What do you think the people and companies who achieve success faster than everyone else do differently?

Lauryn: They do what they really believe is right as opposed to what they are just doing half-assed or where they are going through the motions. They solve real people's problems as opposed to offering services that no one cares about. They listen more than they act and then when they move, they move fast. They are willing to be different.

People spend years studying marketing where they learn that differentiating yourself is key to success. And yet, how many people do what's safe? How many companies do everything but what they'd bet their life savings on?

They study only to be complacent in acting.

Risk doesn't translate into being reckless. It translates into doing something differently to get better results. And better doesn't always mean making revenue go up.

Successful companies, successful people and successful ideas care about values. They actually give a shit. They're in it to win and by win they mean be there for the long haul.

Successful companies lead, they don't follow.

Addendum: There are specific people we meet at specific times who, having followed their intuition, their destiny, come to us as angels of sorts.

They offer inspiration, insight and hope. Some of them call it luck, others believe it to be the product of hard work and toil. I happen to think of it as neither but as the product of being willing and ready to follow your gut no matter how crazy it sounds.

p.s. I'm launching a series of free webinars where I help you with partnerships, branding, selling and thought leadership. They're guaranteed to at the very least be entertaining.

You can check out the first one here. Goes live on January 15, 2013. Limited space.