I was reading from Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching last night when I ran across an interesting quote:

He who knows others is wise;
He who knows himself is enlightened.

The passage made me stop and contemplate my own life. How well do I know myself? I went down that path for a bit of time; looking at my aspects and considering what I might be blind about.

Naturally, I soon turned to business. I thought about how much of marketing is focused on the consumer or the client. I wondered what I might learn about my business if I applied Lao-tzu’s words to marketing. So I rewrote the passage to say:

He who knows his customer is wise;
But he who knows his business is enlightened.

Then I started thinking about my clients, my colleagues, my friends, etc. How many of them really know what they do? I don’t mean can they explain their business in some marketing lingo that drives sales. I’m talking about do they understand what they REALLY do for their clients? What impact do they make?

For instance, I’m a web developer, a marketing coach, a business advisor and a strategist. I help my clients understand how to use the internet to reach their business goals. Pretty simple.

But if I think about the client’s I’ve worked with over the past year, it’s evident that I have a much broader and deeper impact on my client’s life than I first think about. While I certainly help them build their website, clarify their marketing message or build a campaign, I also help them create space in their lives for their business. As well, I help them overcome their fears and uncertainties about using the web, and I educate them in how to measure their success. What’s more, I teach them anything they really need or want to know about using the web to grow their business.

But it doesn’t stop there. Most of my clients and I also develop a strong bond; a working relationship that seems to increase their trust in themselves. They know, for instance, they’re not doing this alone in their process. I also freely share my idea, concepts, vision and excitement about their business – something that often motivates them to get the next bit of work done.

When I think about it, I do far more than just develop web-based businesses. I have an impact on my client’s lives. And I need to remember that in my business. Perhaps even explore that more and understand how I can express more of what I offer my clients. And maybe, just maybe, I can find more of the light in my business.

So what about you? How well do you know what you do? How much do you understand the impact you have on your clients or customers? How enlightened are you in your business?

Reader Interactions


  1. SEO for Yahoo Small Business - Terry Reeves says

    Speaking from experience, I know that when people want to buy, having the idea that the person they want to buy from knows his stuff will definitely make a difference. In many instances, especially big ticket purchases, people don’t buy the product/service, they buy the most likable, knowledgeable seller.

    Who wants to do business with someone who only knows the lingo and the pitch?

  2. Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk says

    After all these years I know myself fairly well, but I’m always trying new things so I’m continually changing. I don’t have a business, so my purpose in blogging is to connect with other people. I’ve already made an impact on other people’s lives through my teaching and leading support groups, so blogging is another way of reaching out. One thing I’ve been doing is reading a lot of blogs and deciding what my two blogs have to offer. I’ve decided to write about what I deeply care about in the spirit of sharing. I’ve been finding that bloggers who set themselves up as experts turn me off. We each have to become the expert of our own lives, so I write about what works for me, then my readers can decide if it resonates with them or not. Either way they learn something. Anyway, it’s just an experiment, and I’m getting more interaction than I expected. It’s a fun trip. Thanks for asking. 🙂

  3. Dawud Miracle says

    I couldn’t agree more. So often it comes down to likability rather than knowledge. And I think that’s a good thing. You should like the people you do business with. And specifically, you should like (and trust) anyone you entrust your business with.

    I know I don’t want just lingo and a sales pitch. Sounds like you feel the same…

    Certainly. Are you saying blogging is a fun trip? Or life? Or both?

  4. communicatrix says

    Thanks to a strange and wonderful experiment I conducted earlier this month, I have a very good idea of what I do for my “customers” (where “customers” is defined as “consumers of my content”).

    That Lao Tzu was a bit of alright, wasn’t he? Understanding the nexus between ourselves and others–which pretty much demands we know ourselves–is the key to the game.

    Anyway, I know that from me, people want illumination with levity. Or a sparkle. Or however you want to define enlightment + entertainment. (enlightainment? inspirevity?) Oy! What in tarnation have I gotten myself into in this incarnation?

  5. Home Recording says

    I am now retired from active business life after a very eventful one. Enlightenment for me has meant that I dropped all the load that I was carrying on my shoulders and became lighter for it. It is afterwards that I realized that I was carrying the load on my shoulders but was traveling in a high speed vehicle. It never occurred to me to keep the load down on the vehicle. I now know better.

    I mentor some young entrepreneurs as part of a local chamber of commerce initiative. Being detached has helped me give these young people better advise than I would have been able to when I was actually involved on a hands on basis.

    These young people have a different and in my opinion, better platform to launch their enterprises from, as they have the benefit of having a rich exposure to successful and failed businesses as part of their growing up process. Their instinctive concern for their customers is a direct response to such a background. They automatically look at problems from the point of view of how a solution would affect customer relations/service. As a long time employee at that age, I did not ever react like that. I always looked at problems to solve to benefit the organization.

    As I had mentioned earlier in another context, wisdom is always by hindsight. I am now in a position to enjoy such wisdom, including such as expressed by you in posts like these. Actually, it gladdens my heart to read such posts and some very enlightened comments from other like minded people who visit your site. To that extent, perhaps for me blogging is a fun trip as the Cheerful Monk and you so eloquently put it!

  6. Shama Hyder says

    Love the quote!

    I do think however that your business and clients are constantly evolving, so one can never be “enlightened” completely.

    It’s a learning process.

  7. Dawud Miracle says

    Don’t we all ask the same thing from time to time? And if we don’t, we should (rarely do I say should). What else do we really have in our lives, our relationships or our businesses if we don’t understand ourselves; if we’re not continually looking for that understanding?

    Home Recording,
    Lovely insights. Isn’t it incredible the seeming natural shift in people’s consciousness to caring about other more? This is where real-life and business cross-over each other, I believe. Great customer service and client relationships come from within. It’s an intrinsic manifestation of our natural caring about others. It just flows into what we do – business, personal, otherwise.

    Living ‘it’ is and will always be the biggest key to success. If we live what we believe, know and feel to be right – by live I mean exemplify in our daily movements – it’s not, then, a sales technique or business approach. It’s just who we are. And as I say again and again – people want to do business with people, not with businesses. Be what we know is good and we’re more than half-way there.

  8. Dawud Miracle says

    North Dallas,
    Thanks. For me, running a business and living my life are the same thing. I don’t mean that my business is my life. What I mean is that my business is a part of my life – just as my family, recreation and spirituality. I can’t separate one out from the other. But I can bring all that I am to each part of my life. That’s one of the reasons I feel it’s so important to know yourself in your business.


    We/they are always evolving – hopefully. But I may think of the word ‘enlighten’ differently that you might think. I don’t see ‘enlightenment’ as a destination. Rather I see it as merely becoming aware or awake. That by not means constitutes arrival. Instead, I feel it’s important to understanding that you’ll continually unfold in life. And being aware of where you are and what’s unfolding inside is what I see enlightenment to be.

    So being enlightened is the journey itself, not the destination. What do you think?

  9. Aronil says

    When i had first stepped into advertising, i was really excited on what I was going to learn. And I must say I have been very enlightened with what I do. It has open up many horizons for me. I never knew there were so many different mannerisms to convey a message, which is also very exciting to see the possibilities. Sad part is that maybe advertising is not where i would want to stay forever.

    Good post man. 🙂

  10. Home Recording says

    So being enlightened is the journey itself, not the destination. What do you think?
    That is just one of the beautiful statements in this exchange of views. Of course, I entirely agree and I hope that Shama does too.
    Your responses to the comments above have been more elaborate and I could not have put it in any better way.

  11. Dining Room Furniture says

    I’d say I’m still away from true enlightenment. Everyday brings new ideas, thoughts, work processes and newer people to deal and interact with. The process of learning goes on throughout life, and taking stock of all your achievements, relationships, progress in work etc is something I really look forward to doing some years hence.

  12. Laser Hair Removal says

    Very nice post and I loved reading everybody’s comments on the same. I think in todays world we have forgotten self enlightenment. We have become so commercial and life has become so fast and stressful that people have no time to sit back and think about their own personal lives.
    I think we should make a new year resolution to look into ourself and try and change what is not correct in ourselves. If we can start with doing this once a week also I feel it would be a great achievement.

  13. aronil says

    Heya again..

    Well as much as I find it a really interesting industry, it’s not exactly where my passion lies. Basically I have other things which i hope to go forward with. Hehehe but who knows maybe i will come back to advertising 😛

  14. aronil says

    most porbably it can, but in a round about way. See i’m heading more toward performing arts.. hehe.. so while it can be related to some aspect, but it will be tad bit different in terms of the industry. Although i have no doubt that they can be intertwined together ^_^

  15. Dawud Miracle says

    I can understand. Yet is there a way you can leverage your advertising knowledge to create a niche business for yourself that isn’t directly in advertising?

    search engine,
    I think somewhat true. I’d rephrase as he who positions his business correctly is wise, but he who comprehends the needs of his audience, and how his business fills those needs, is enlighten – and successful.

  16. Webmaster says

    I’m not really in that zone…

    I think all I know is that I get money for something that I do in which I’m good at.

    That is what I think… Great post! It was different.

  17. Satellite TV on Your PC says

    Advertising today costs very cheap if done perfectly, and will benefit so much if converted by studies.

  18. Joseph says

    Listening to clients makes one be able to understand their role in business. What they come for will tell you what you’re worth.

  19. Cincinnati Chocolate Shop says

    Great site! I can appreciate the fact that I know my product but have learned that sales/marketing and understanding my customers are critical to the success of my business and many of my friends trying to do the same. I have found that it’s key to stay on top of my product and my customers and the rest I can hire out! Thanks Randy

  20. James Simpson says

    I enjoyed your story.
    I use the business thought in order to create my business the way I know it is right. Then my clients will come. I try not to copy ideas and create my own.

  21. Mike @ renewable energy information says

    Treating your customers like mindless sheep is a surefire way to lose the intelligent ones. I hate going to a site that talks to me like I’m twelve…and I refuse to give my business to one.

  22. Danielle Lynn @ copywriter blog says

    Hi Dawud,

    So true. It’s about more than making money – it’s about making sure you’re providing real value to your clients. After all, like you said, you’re directly impacting their lives, their livelihoods.

    Insightful post,

  23. Health and Wellness says

    You actually find a way to describe that phrase with business, and that is an excellent thought. Understanding your business and your customers will definitely enlighten many opportunities for both. Once both aspects blend well together, your business will achieve success.

    Great post. Thanks

  24. namibia safari tours says

    Being a successful businessman, first of all i should know my strength and second is about the services. If i a businessman who does not know what is his strength to be successful business then there is no chance to develop its business.

  25. yonobae says

    Thank you really a lot for the fantastic details. There?s definately alot to understand and as I appear about I maintain hearing diverse points of view. Some that are very wise and other folks that are quite unbelievable. I?ll return with some far better feedback and an belief of my individual soon after I feel assured plenty of to kind an view value stating.

  26. Alease Michelle says

    On my website, I share my experience and knowledge with creative entrepreneurs to help them make a living on what they are passionate about—art and teaching are my passions.

    I find that fear of the unknown is what keeps people from pursuing and taking action on their dreams. What seems easy to me, is overwhelming for others.

    So in teaching and mentoring clients, I try to come from a place of understanding, because I also was once in their place, and take them step by step until the client gets comfortable and dives in and engages in the process.

  27. Trance says

    Love that quote Dawud. I think many times people look to make others happy before making themselves happy. When others may benefit from the person themselves being happy.

  28. Bill says

    I think most of us tend to sell ourselves a bit short on how impactful we are. Even a lot of the time thinking that what we do is easy without realizing that it’s only to us. It’s very intimidating to others and that’s often why they hire and outsource.

  29. nukay81 says

    Small business if engaged can beat big business. It’s like my dream of always wanting to make a small business but in large numbers. Can open a business with the same type but are in some places, or open a business with a different kind.

  30. Crise Angoisse says

    And it goes even further. By writing this blog post you had an impact on me, that might change the impact I have on my clients and so on 🙂

    What I personally do believe in, is that it is important the client himself realizes the impact you have had on their lives. If and when they do, you’ll have a (business) relationship for life.

  31. Misley says

    Love the quote!

    I do think however that your business and clients are constantly evolving, so one can never be ?enlightened? completely.

    It?s a learning process.

  32. Tia says

    Great post, and two great quotes! I would say I know myself pretty well, but I can always know myself even better, if that makes any sense. I think it’s a process, and I haven’t reached the end of it yet.

  33. 5130 temalari says

    Understanding your business and your customers will definitely enlighten many opportunities for both. Once both aspects blend well together, your business will achieve success.

    Great post. Thanks

  34. Erica | Direct Mail says

    Really nice points! I am actually a young professional trying to break in to this world. With my experience knowing who you really are gives you an advantage because you know where you stand. For the business side, it is a must to know your business ins and outs. To be able to sell to other people your brand you must be prepared to back it up with all the right information.

  35. Uganda Safari says

    Thank you for the insight. As business owners our life is always at stake so if you know the ins and out of your business you are better prepared for the worsts times.

  36. fred k @ finally fast says

    To be fair, I think the literal application of that statement to business would be something more like “He who’s studied marketing and learned from great teachers is wise, But he who truly understands his own business is enlightened”. On the other hand, I believe if Laozi could somehow react to his philosophy being applied to marketing in 21st century America, his reaction would be decidedly critical. This guy was the major religious holy-man of Ancient China after all 😛

  37. appliance repair alexandria says

    I had found myself very immature after reading your blog post as far as my business marketing is concerned. I got the point that i dont as much as i should know and also my clients are not as much satisfied as much they should be.

  38. Ron says

    Yep, right on. Business is to bring money, which is time, which is energy source. How do we utilize our own energy?…that’s the question. Ancients knew their stuff.

  39. Birthday parties in northern virginia says

    There are many business owners who does not know about their businesses and they started their businesses because they had money to invest on it and get profit from it as much as it is providing to the other business owners although he is not trying to find the reason that why they are earning so much either they also had the good investment to do or they already had the knowledge about the nature of the business and their customers needs.

  40. Maytag appliances repair VA says

    Knowing about the needs of the customer and its nature is more important than anything else. My only target is satisfy the customer whatever the scenario or condition is. Basically your customer satisfaction is the real backbone for the popularity of your business whether you have as much resources you needed. Its all about the tactics how you justify before your customers.

  41. NaijaBizCom says

    We are all learner as far as the issues of life and business is concerned no body is a know it all.
    The day we stop learning ways to improve in what ever we do then stagnation and failure sets in.

  42. mutuelle says

    Yes, to give advices to clients is to give consultations concerning their marketing strategies & lead them for success, and framing them withing this process,and inspiring them…

  43. joe wang says

    the interenet marketing is the cheapest while most effective way of promoting and driving sales for small businesses. The most important thing is that you really need to hair a good web designer to make your website more beautiful than others. Since your are a small business, the look of your website is where your credibility comes from.

  44. football livescore says

    It is after that I recognized that I was bearing the burden on my bears but was traveling in a high pace vehicle. It not ever appeared to me to hold the burden down on the vehicle. I now understand better.

  45. dumpster charlotte says

    Basically when you are starting or running your business then you are not the owner. Your owner is your customer or client for whom you are working or providing services whatever your services are. So, be patient and careful when you have to serve your boss because he can be very angry but you have to bear and show the patience and cover it with your tactics or skills that how well you deal with your customers.

  46. drawing portraits says

    Feels good to know that you?ve had a good influence on someone?s life. There?s a certain non material reward and warmth of soul when helping others and if you can achieve that through your business then you are accomplished.
    Take care,

  47. Lite says

    Web designers boggle me in that they spend weeks designing, but never look at usability tests. How are you meant to know your customer unless you watch them use it?

  48. Watch films says

    Great lips! Great example through a quotation!
    There should be no compromise on quality and the customer preference should be our preference. The tactic is how to convince the client and how to make him/her satisfied is very compulsory to run any kind of business.
    Your post will help others.
    Thumbs up….

    Worthy post admin. 🙂

  49. neon sign says

    I am so lucky reading your wonderful post. Thank you for the great topic discussed. I admire the writer for allotting their time for this impressive article. Thanks, Keep it up!

  50. Water Slide Restoration says

    Nice information, I found your post really helpful . It helped me all the way in completing my assignment. I am also giving a reference link of your blog in my case study. Thanks for posting such informative content. Keep posting. Many thanks to the author?

  51. Comparison Shopping says

    Your article also relates to the way I usually think, you say that when you understand yourself then you are enlightened, I think a better understanding of oneself comes with age. Applying your ideas to your own business tho is a good way to think as I believe if you run a business then the effects you have on your customers lives should definately be on your mind as the more positive impact you can make, the more likely it will be that they will trust you and be return customers in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *