The Robin the Cherries: Sharing Value You Co-Create With Customers

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Sales, skmurphy

In the same way that we must share cherries with robins if we want them to nest in our neighborhood, we can only capture a part of the value that our software creates for our customers.

Chad Horwedel: Robin popping cherries down the hatch

The Robin and the Cherries

Another “Safed the Sage” story by William Eleazar Barton, this one was collected in “Wit And Wisdom Of Safed The Sage” (1919). It’s a sequel to “The First Robin.

There groweth a Cherry Tree hard by the house where I dwell, and in the Spring it was full of Blossoms, so that I wondered not at the people of Japan who rejoice with great joy in the Cherry Blossom time. And I was glad that George Washington did not pass that way in his boyhood.

And after the blossoms came the Cherries, and they grew Wondrous Fast. And I said unto Keturah, We shall have no lack of Cherries.

And she said, Be not too sure. There be things that can happen to Cherries ere thou dost eat them.

Now ere the Cherries were ripe, I went to the window, and behold a Robin in the Cherry Tree. And he sat so that he was nigh unto me, and he moved not away when I came nigh.

And I spake, saying, Behold, these Cherries are mine; moreover they are not yet ripe; and the Ground is full of Nice Juicy Worms; go thither and eat, and disturb not my Cherries.

And the Robin turned his head on one side, and pecked at a Cherry that was beginning to be Red, and then he turned his head the other way, and pecked at another.

And I said, Hast thou not heard of Mr. Hoover, and how he desireth that we eat all of us Substitutes? Eat thou not of my Cherries, but eat Bugs; they are Excellent Substitutes; so shalt thou please Mr. Hoover, yea, and me also.

And the Robin spake unto me saying, Dost thou not remember the morning in Early Spring when first I came, and how thy heart did rejoice in me? And behold, I have builded my nest, and reared my young and fed them with worms which I took from thy Garden; and Now I am ready for Cherries.

And Keturah she came, and we stood there and talked unto the Bird, both of us, and the Robin was not affrighted, but listened to all we had to say, and still continually did he peck at the unripe Cherries.

And Keturah answered and said, There will be Cherries left for us, if we get out and pick them when they be first ripe; some of them I will can. Yea, and I will make for thee a Wondrous Cherry Pie, with all the Stones taken out. And as for the Robins, let them have their share. If I had to live on Worms for the Most Part of the Year, I should welcome the ripening of the Cherries.

And I looked at the red that was coming on the cheek of the Cherries and then at that on the breast of the Robin, and I said, Old fellow, Go To It. We will go Fifty-Fifty on those Cherries. There is no joy in life but doth cost something, and the Robin is worth the Cherries he doth eat.

William Eleazar Barton “The First Robin” in “The Wit And Wisdom Of Safed The Sage” (1919)

Larry Jacobsen: Robin eating Canadian CherriesSharing Value You Co-Create
With Customers

In the same way that we must share cherries with robins if we want them to nest in our neighborhood, we can only capture a part of the value that our software creates for our customers. In particular, early customers often get a better deal to compensate for the risk of working with an unproven startup. Although Safed offers the Robin that,  “We will go Fifty-Fifty on those Cherries,” you are normally only able to capture between 10% and 40% of the hard dollar savings–or profit if your product is used to generate revenue)–you can identify.

Tim O’Reilly’s thought provoking post “Work on Stuff that Matters” highlighted three principles:

  1. Work on something that matters to you more than money.
  2. Create more value than you capture.
  3. Take the long view.

that I believe are core to creating a viable and sustainable business.

Related Blog Posts

Safed the Sage Stories

Barton published 326 of these stories in five volumes between 1917 and 1925:

  • The Parables of Safed the Sage (1917)
  • The Wit and Wisdom of Safed the Sage (1919) In the foreword Barton explains the origin of the name Safed:
    “So far as we know, no man except the author of these Parables bears or has borne that name. He did not wish to choose a name either from the Bible or from the Arabian Nights, and so invented one. The name was not, however, invented wholly out of nothing. There is in Northern Galilee a village called Safed or Sefet, lying north and a little west from the Sea of Galilee, and plainly visible from the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount, and believed to be the “city set on a hill, which cannot be hid.” The author visited this site some years ago, and the name came to him somewhat spontaneously as a convenient one for the character which he has assumed in these chapters
  • Safed and Keturah (1921)
  • More Parables of Safed the Sage (1923)
  • Fun and Philosophy of Safed the Sage (1925)

Garth Rosella and Stan Flewelling collected 80 of William Eleazar Barton’s stories in “Parables of a Country Parson” (a reprint of their earlier “Millionaire and the Scrub Lady“). Paul Spite has republished all five books, see “Archeologos Press: The Parables of the Safed the Sage Series

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