As we enter the week of Diwali, there is a sense of excitement and nostalgia in the air. In fact, it’s been almost two decades since my wife and I have had a chance to celebrate this auspicious event.

In case you don’t know, Diwali is the five-day Festival of Lights that is traditionally observed by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains. It is also one of the most anticipated and significant festivals in Indian culture.

Back in my earlier days, Diwali symbolised hanging out with family and friends, lighting firecrackers, and indulging in the variety of delicious homemade sweets crafted in kitchens throughout my local community; culinary treats that we would share amongst each other.

Naturally, with age and experience, you accept that Diwali isn’t just about tucking into sweets. People express their happiness and gratitude by lighting Earthen ‘diyas’ (small oil-filled lamps clad with wicks), decorating their homes, lighting firecrackers, and inviting the most special people in their lives to share a palatial feast. All of these events are symbolic in their individual ways and the lighting of lamps is a thanksgiving to God for our health, wealth, knowledge, and well-being. It’s about being grateful together, as one.

Over the past two weeks, my wife and I have had the pleasure of attending a few Diwali business functions, and this has reinforced a culture of strong relationships forged between businesses and the communities they operate in.

That said, here are a few Diwali lessons that can help foster and build stronger relationships for yourself, and your business.

Giving back goes a long way

The two Diwali functions I mentioned just happened to be hosted by two of the larger institutions in the country, Westpac and Bank of South Pacific (BSP).

What struck us most from the outset was the fact that both organisations recognise the value of their customers and as a result, possess that priceless sense of giving back. This awareness of offering their customers value is the very reason why both Westpac and BSP take this opportunity every year to congregate with their key supporters and forge a real human connection. Also, and this is a real plus point, both functions left a sweet taste in our mouths (quite literally) as we got to leave both functions with a host of decadent goodies to enjoy at home.

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Do you find you often take but rarely give back?

Businesses who give more, generally get more. Essentially, the more you help your clients and customers, the more they will trust and in turn, invest in your business, both personally and commercially. Trust, loyalty, and satisfaction tends to result in positive word of mouth and, therefore, more customers. Whether you’re from the Baby Boomer, Gen X or Millennial era, we trust recommendations from our friends and family over glitzy online ads.

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Giving back is a sure-fire way of encouraging people to recommend your product or service to their loved ones.

 “The easiest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.” – Deepak Chopra

The greater the value you offer, the more you’re worth. So, focus your efforts on helping other people and businesses fulfil their goals, and you will create valuable business bonds that will last a lifetime.

Reflect on Relationships

2016 has been a challenging year on a global scale, and when it comes to natural unsettlement, Fiji copped the brunt of it back in February with Cyclone Winston. Despite the physical and emotional damage of this catastrophic event, it’s nothing short of inspirational to see the local business community soldier on and come together to fight through difficult circumstances – it’s a real testament to the beauty of Fiji’s multicultural heritage.

When things like this happen, we have a chance to reflect on our relationships both personally and professionally and strive to reconnect with those we’ve lost touch with; get together with those who have supported us, and appreciate those who’ve helped us throughout the hardest of times.

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But it doesn’t have to take a personal or natural disaster to compel us to reflect. In both domestic and business life, it pays to think about the people who are most important to you, and take the time to nurture those bonds.

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You can’t build an empire on your own, so think about the people who make you stronger and make sure you branch out to them in a positive way.

Understand that we all have common ground

Having attended the Westpac and BSP functions and having thought about this year’s big Diwali celebrations, it has made me realise that we all have hopes, dreams, and desires, no matter how different they may be.

Despite our differences, we all want to be happy and walk around with a sense of satisfaction and contentment.

Those who humanise their brands and take the time to understand their customer base will ultimately reap the biggest rewards, so think about who you are, what you want to achieve, and how you want to help others. Get the foundations right, and build a strong brand message, plus a service that sings the sweetest tune to the people that matter, and the rest will surely follow.

In our own small way, we all want to spread as much light and good cheer around as humanly possible.

And here’s hoping that this year especially, the Festival of Lights will dispel the darkness and fill every corner of the world to enlighten people and make this old world a better place to live in.

Happy Diwali.

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