I hope in years to come they’ll be studying the underlying themes, just like the irony of the chap declaring he’s not an individual at the end of the sketch. At last school will be fun! Whilst I think Python always had the gags first in mind, they did truly have something to say about life. Life of Brian told a lot of truths: thinking for yourself and not comparing yourself to others, no matter the similarities.
Not long ago there was debate here about being different and alternative and I wonder if actually this is slowly catching on out there in what is a very conservative business. It’s good to see IFA websites focussing more on their own passions, whether it’s the bike or tattoo scene, sailing, school teachers, or even pilots. Social media makes that more visual than in the past where it came from sponsorships. After all, our websites, twitter or social media feeds say a lot about us, whether we intended or not. I’m probably more of the view that being different is how your clients find you outside of a trusted referral. Social media will make that easier to distinguish.
For this reason, I wanted to share something I know about the funeral industry back in my village, and you wouldn’t believe it, but there is a lot in common with our industry and being different.
If you’ve ever buried a parent or family member, chances are you’ll know what I mean about the industry. You feel vulnerable, you’re in a mess and you need guidance as you’ve never done this sort of thing before and have no idea of the cost. It was back in the 80s that I first came across a funeral business called White Lady Funerals. No need for a degree to work out, it was a funeral business with women in it. In fact, you can only work for them if you are a woman. There was of course indignity in the industry at the time that such a proposition could work, yet today it remains the ‘top shelf’ funeral service in my village. It certainly was different, though I’d say because of it, more women work now in the Australian funeral industry (front and back of house) than in the comparative UK funeral industry.
Another funeral operator of a low cost nature started only a few years ago by a mother and her young daughter. I read about them here in The Age and their initial difficulties and eventual progression to a solid independent operator, without any funeral premises or even a fridge for the milk or a ‘guest’. They gave people a clear alternative to the large American funeral consolidators which had bought most of the industry out and took away the warmth of a small business.
Funerals have become a commodity in Australia, and as in some ways, this word appears to be rising in our industry as something different. Turning funerals into a transaction does get people buried, but it doesn’t help with the emotion. As these big funeral businesses discovered, no employee without empathy, will ever replace the compassion and understanding of another person. Same goes for an online financial advice wizard. This is why the big funeral companies in Australia keep buying the little guys, to keep their dominating market share; focusing on the transaction, not the clients.
So whether you’re contemplating, ‘Boom, the Musical’, or loving work from your front room giving everything to providing good advice, don’t worry about what others are doing. Just be good at your own job relating to people and have a crack at truly being you. Online tools, image, calculators are all nice, but people (generally) are nicer and much more fun.