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The Single Most Powerful Word in the World

Choose Your Words Wisely

As I write my last blog for 2021, I’m reminded in multiple, independent ways that the most powerful word we have in the world of business is not “new” or “free” or anything else that tries hard to attract the attention of the consumer. There’s another word out there that captures the spirit of this time of year and serves as a driving force 24/7/365.   

That word is LOVE.  Because this word is so intimate and so meaningful, it may feel awkward to talk about it in any context beyond our personal lives. But I want to share some ways I’m seeing it expressed with the hope that it might influence how you approach your professional life.  

How Love Influences Every Part of Our Lives


The airline that luvs its customers — I fly Southwest more than any other airline, and with a play on spelling they’ve made the word “LUV” their stock ticker as well as a guiding principle for how they treat customers as well as employees. 

The heart-shaped logo that accompanies their name is an ever-present reminder of how this airline strives to differentiate itself from competitors at every stage of customer interaction: online booking, telephone calls, gate agents, and flight attendants. And when they fail to meet customer expectations, they are quick to offer “luv vouchers” to help offset whatever went wrong.  They don’t offer reserved seating or first class, but they’ve emerged as the biggest airline in the US … in large part because of the love they have for their business and the way they conduct it.


“I love this team,” proclaimed  Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh, after beating Ohio State for the first time in 7 years. This was no small feat and very few expected this outcome on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. But it’s more than just words. Harbaugh, who has faced relentless criticism for not meeting expectations for the winningest program in college football, decided to give every dollar earned in bonuses this year (a seven figure sum) to employees of the athletic department who had to take pay cuts during the pandemic. Star running back Blake Corum and quarterback JJ McCarthy similarly donated some of their income from the new Name-Image-Likeness program to feed needy families and support the children’s hospital in every city they played in this year. Wow!

College football is all about sacrifice of the individual for the team. What is so powerful is that these acts of sacrifice are off the field. They are acts of love in the true sense of the word. As a Michigan grad and football fan(atic), the love I have for this team in this sport at this time is huge, whether they win or lose in the upcoming playoff.  


Subaru puts its “Love Promise” front and center in its trademarked claim to be “more than a car company.”  

And If you haven’t seen this recent ad from Chevrolet on TV, be warned: it’ll make your eyes well up. The best ads are ones that tell a story.  

This one shows the love between a father and daughter with a story about restoration — both of a 1966 Impala and family relationships. This love story strikes a particular chord around the holidays. It is a must-watch.  

The Christmas Holiday

For one month each year, Walnut Drive in Pleasanton, California transforms into Candy Cane Lane. My wife and I moved here several years ago and are often asked if decorating is a requirement of living on this street.  Every homeowner has participated since 1953 when this tradition began; for us, decorating is an act of joy and love. Each night, countless families come through via car or on foot to enjoy the sights.  We enjoy seeing the reaction of people when they pass by our house, with many stopping to take pictures or chat with us when we’re out on the front porch taking it all in. But what tops it all is the joy expressed by kids as captured by a local TV station. Something magical happens when Frosty makes snow before their very eyes. Who says it doesn’t snow in the bay area? Not us!  

Final Thoughts

As many of you wind down at the end of the year and take time to be with family and friends, I ask a simple question: How do you show love at your place of work?  If you’re a doctor or administrator, how do you show love for those you serve — your patients — as well as those who serve alongside you — your employees?    

As I mentioned earlier, this may seem or feel awkward. But it really isn’t. These two groups — patients and employees — are, in essence, your “work family” and are deserving of love and all the good things that come with that. I believe this is the cornerstone for any practice that wants to be known for an exceptional patient experience. So I encourage you to take the time and reflect on the ways you can show your love for both patients and employees, not just now but throughout the year.  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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