Bringing Humanity Back to Business

There’s an app or a website for just about any service nowadays, which seems to make person-to-person contact obsolete. Why would I call a car service when I can just get an Uber driver to come pick me up with the push of a few buttons? Or why would I hire a personal trainer when there’s thousands of workout videos available online for free?

Credit: Ryan McGuire/Bells Design

Credit: Ryan McGuire/Bells Design

But just because it seems more convenient to e-mail or text someone rather than talk in person doesn’t mean it’s the best strategy for communication, especially in terms of running a business. That’s the foundation of Peoplework: How to Run a People-First Business in a Digital-First World (2014, dotloop), written by Austin Allison and Chris Smith. Technology can enable companies to be more efficient. But Allison and Smith urge people in any type of business to take advantage of the “people revolution”: valuing personal interaction above all else. Both authors have tested a Peoplework business strategy within their own companies: Allison is founder of dotloop, a company that facilitates online real estate transactions; Smith is co-founder of Curaytor, a marketing firm for real estate agents and companies. Allison and Smith enforce the idea that going back to basics, which involve human interaction, is the best way to run any type of business.

The book outlines 10 principles on how to run a Peoplework business among constantly changing technology, ending each chapter with examples of companies that have successfully used these principles. Apple is a reoccurring example throughout the book of a company that values people first—customers and employees. The company treats its customers as friends from the moment they walk in the door, and that’s what Peoplework is about: putting the humanity—including humility, honesty, and respect—back into your business. Peoplework businesses are interested in long-term relationships with their customers as well as their employees in order to network, or create an exponential “people grid.”

“First, you must understand that since the beginning of time, and forever into the future, people just want to work with other people and will more often than not choose people who they know, like and trust. No matter what the business model or product is, it is always people on both sides of the transaction.”

Peoplework generally focuses on how to manage a business, though the 10 principles can easily apply to just about any entrepreneur. The first seven chapters of the book focus on how employees, not just employers, can capitalize the business they work for through the way they treat their customers. The “Quality Creates Quantity” chapter, for example, emphasizes how every customer should be treated as a lifetime employee would be. This may restrict a company’s customer outreach initially but focusing time and energy on each customer leads to loyalty and virality, which in turn lead to more and more customers. Allison and Smith even break down an example of how to obtain a $120,000 salary in the real estate market through Peoplework, based on the model Starbucks uses, called the Lifetime Value of a Customer (LVT). The last three chapters focus on the business person as an individual: how a Peoplework business starts with the passion, motivation, and ability of each employee and employer. Allison and Smith don’t hesitate to show where specific companies have gone wrong or explain that sometimes you just need to get rid of employees that don’t fit your culture as soon as possible. Peoplework is meant to inspire readers to see their business through a unique lens, though, where change is always possible.

Chloe Dale

Chloe Dale is an intern for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at

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  1. Chloe, I should probably call you to say this, but thanks!

    Your review made our day. Here’s to putting people, first.