Thursday, 20 March 2008

Alpha vs Zeta

Following the comment on my last post, I just thought I would write a few words to clarify my thoughts on the Alpha vs Zeta battle we are seeing manifest - not just in business but in the world.

Alpha values = pursuit of money & power which leads to desires like control, revenge. These are traditional male values (although there are many 'Alpha Females').

Zeta values = pursuit of harmony & collaboration which leads to ethics, integrity and desire to help others. These are traditional female values (although there are many 'Zeta Males').

The traditional business world is built on Alpha values - the vast majority of the world's wealth controlled by a very small number of very powerful people; the pursuit of wealth at all costs having reaped huge damage to the environment, as well as issues like exploitation of child labour, horrific animal farming methods and so on.

However, the most powerful people in the business world are ultimately the customers - and because 70% of purchasing decisions are now made or influenced by women, and because the explosion of communication has revealed what is really going on, women are becoming more and more drawn to Zeta brands - who trade with ethics and integrity, not the pure 'Alpha' profit motive.

The 'Zetas' are also increasingly finding/intrinsically know that happiness is not found in material possessions (as the advertising world would like to make them believe), hence the retailers having to work harder and harder to maintain the sales of things that for the most part people do not actually need.

Of course the traditional Alpha businesses have recognised the trend, and are desperately trying to re-brand themselves as 'green' and 'ethical', yet at the heart of it they are run by the City, which is only interested in short term results.

Meanwhile, some of the most enlightened wealthy are now devoting an increasing amount of their time to Zeta causes (Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Branson)

And we are starting to see an increasing polarisation between the two groups.

If you don't believe this, take a look at some of the footage coming through from the Far East - lorries of soldiers heading for Tibet horrific scenes of violence against religious and intrinsically peaceful people, and the Dalai Lama declared a 'Jackal in monk's robes' by the Chinese government.

Meantime we see stock markets in meltdown and hoards of 'Alphas' on telephones desperately trying to protect their money as The Establishment tries to stop the credit bubble bursting - imaginary money which was provided to keep fuelling a sales lead economy.

Just to bring this back to small business, which is the sector I am most active in, I would say to people going into business, look at these trends and think ahead to the natural consequences of what is happening.

A shift away from materialism, a growing desire for harmony peace and self-understanding and a customer base which is increasingly being drawn to ethical and honest brands.

Look at any projection of the future whether it is Star Trek or Stanley Kubrick and you will see minimalism and the search for knowledge and understanding, not more 'stuff'.

And if all this sounds 'bitter', no doubt 'anonymous will let me know...


Stephen Ryan said...

There are people who go to work and then there are artists who work.

Whether Alpha or Zeta - the former are always beholding to the latter.

The latter are the sensitive soul of the brand.

Rafa said...

Instead of harping on about Alpha males all the while, why don't you demonstrate how you can help a small business with some tips and advice.

This Alpha male stuff is boring and it just highlights your bitterness.

There is no doubt you must have something to offer following your experiences, so why not be positive and build an audience based on your experience rather than bleating about Alpha males (Peter Jones?)?

Stephen Ryan said...

Thank God for free speech.

It seems that some people associate free speech with not being very focused or useful in your business life.

When in fact you can do both!

jake said...

I partially agree with Rachel on this one.

Ethical business does work. Treating suppliers, customers and staff like shit can only work short term, as they'll all go somewhere else if there is an option.

As others more successful than myself say- business is built on good relationships. I agree with them.

Humility is the friend of the enlightened business-person and an important differentiator between you and your competitors (unfortunately humility is in short supply!).

Alpha tactics can work (Steve Jobs) but they are only respected by people with the same alpha mindset. If one is a good person, as well as a good business-person,everyone respects you. Buffett, it seems, epitomizes this balance and this is the reason I too greatly admire him.

I have recently set up my first company. We shall see if its a success or not. Regardless of its success; I will treat suppliers, customers and staff with consideration and fairly and I believe this stance will compound my success, not impede it.

Bo Danerius said...

Jake: I dont get it? Steve Jobs is a proper alpha in my book. But not the kinda alpha that gets slandered here.

jake said...

bo: To clarify, Alpha tactics can work. Jobs is a good example of someone who has achieved a lot using them.

I don't think the prerequisite to success is to be an Alpha male/female.

So I'm not knocking those that do use Alpha tactics, in general though, they are normally pricks. It is important to note that being a prick is not the normal way to get what you want, in business or in anything else in life.
That is all...

Anonymous said...

Zetas tend to have an inverse commercial mindset whereby they provide a fantastic service or experience as their primary objective, knowing that people will pay for such, the money being always secondary.

The Alphas tend to have a, what you would call traditional commercial mindset, in that their primary goal is to make money, and the secondary objective being, how can I do it.

I wouldn't say it's a matter of being green or thinking hippy for that matter, it more a difference in motives, values and approaches.

I think it's a matter of finding your true personality and working with it, whether your Alpha, Zeta or whatever.

And I wouldn't mistake the enlightened wealthy for the philanthropic. Remember neither Bill Gates or Warren Buffet has never baulked at making an extra dollar, the fact that they are in a position to support Zeta causes maybe more to do with their personalities maturing.

Rachel Elnaugh said...


I spend my whole life in the small business sector helping others achieve business success !!!

Since RLD crashed I've spoken to thousands of people at small business events - to which the feedback is overwhelmingly positive; my website receives over 10,000 unique visitors per month; over 3,000 people have taken my 'Entrepreneurial Profiling Test' - which I created as a free tool to assist people thinking of going into business - and every week I PERSONALLY respond to emails requesting for my help and advice on small business issues (not via an army of PAs).

Is that positive enough for you?

Stephen Ryan said...

There is no Alpha or Zeta
There is only predator and prey
Abuser and Abused
Unethical and Ethical
Uncaring and Caring
Unlightened and Enlightened
Penetrator and Penetrated
Ugly and Beautiful
Adult and Abused Child
No Conscience and Conscience
False Love and Love
Conditional and Unconditional
Unbrand and Brand

I feel so sorry for those so called Alphas. Imagine having to be an ugly, lonely, grasping monster, just to make it in life. They must be so vulnerable!

Rachel Elnaugh said...


Poignant day to be exchanging these messages...

Jesus was crucified by the Alpha Males after all.

But Zeta is too powerful to be destroyed.

And in business, Zeta is usually far more successful than Alpha... but only when you value success as more than £££money$$$.

Stephen Ryan said...

I value success as someone building a £100million brand from their kitchen.

Buying and pumping money into a supposed failing business is about "Buying and pumping money into a supposed failing business.

These people have no real identity. They are like parasites
feeding off the back of someone elses identity! Covering themselves with the clothes of others.

But let me tell you - the public isn't stupid. We can see through the veil to the ugly moron underneath. I'd say "Grow up" Alphas. Lets see you start with nothing and build £100million brand.

You might then show some respect for those who have!

Rachel Elnaugh said...

By the way, I do agree with anonymous's comments here - it is about self-understanding and working with your natural energy in business.

It is exactly the basis of my Entrepreneurial Profiling System...

When it comes to the crunch will you choose to stay and do the deal or will you get on the plane with your family for the holiday you promised them?
Will you stand by your ethics or will you compromise on them and take the money?
When the sun is shining will you leave the work and go sit in the garden or stay and get it finished?

When you understand your drivers you are on the way to creating a successful business - and by successful I mean one which fulfills ALL your desires, not just making £££.

Rafa said...

I'm not looking to rub you up the wrong way over a "comments box".

I'll quietly excuse myself from this conversation.

Good luck...