When our CEO, Becky Robinson, went to the Berrett-Koehler Marketing Workshop in San Francisco recently, she came away from a client interaction with one 8-word takeaway that resonated enough to make it to her personal Facebook wall as well as our internal Slack dialogue.
What were those eight profound words from Dan Negroni?
Be more of you, it works way better.
A book I read recently supported that idea and prompted me to be more appreciative of the unique gifts I can bring to my work and my life, whether or not they fit into the conventional expectations of others. First, the takeaways, then the reveal of the book.
You Do You
The author discussed how she had tried to mold her mannerisms, voice inflections, and dress to the group she was hanging out with and wanted to be accepted by. Calling herself a “chameleon,” she talked about how she adapted a full-on British accent after the vacation she took in England at the age of 13. Throughout college, she became so immersed in her “pier” peer group, losing all vestiges of her unique self in favor of duplicating their characteristics that one of them finally took her aside to point out that they loved her for the fact that she was her, not the fact that she was going to extreme lengths to look, sound, and act exactly like them.
You’re already fabulous, so just be yourself.
Max, The Honest Friend
Celebrate Your Competition
We all have choices to make, day in and day out, about how to conduct ourselves when we are players on the field of commerce. I have watched and taken notes as our CEO Becky and the Weaving Influence team propose how our services will be configured and priced to potential clients (or returning clients).
Personally, I have fought envy when fellow bloggers get more lucrative sponsorship opportunities or are selected over me to represent causes I feel I could represent well. When I read that I can’t apply for a certain opportunity because I don’t have, for example, 50,000 UMVs (Unique Monthly Views), it’s easy to feel that the requirement is unfair, since I could prepare a blog post that is as effective as someone with 50,000 UMVs.
But bloggers with 50,000 (or however many) UMVs got to that point by hustling, nurturing community among their followers, and applying themselves. I must choose whether I am going to pout about it in my little corner of the cyberworld or say “good for you” to them while celebrating their success (and taking notes about what I can do to get there).
A favorite passage in the book related to competition:
When competition gets fierce … it’s easy to get down on [those] gunning for you.
Fill your heart with gratitude and thank every single one of them for making you try harder, risk more, and be better than you ever would have been without them. Without the people who are constantly trying to outshine us, we would be the big, giant C word: complacent.
Our Job: Teasing Out Our Clients’ Fabulosity
I was on a conference call with a client recently. As a group, we were all struggling with one particular piece of our business together, but it was a piece that is fundamental to the long-term success of that client: pinning down a “tagline,” a distillation of what this client does so that it can be easily digested before a viewer loses interest and decides to click off of the client’s web page.
In the midst of an hour-long meeting, there was one five-minute or so period where the client was talking about the part of her work that she loves. She talked about receiving letters from people who believe their lives have been changed for the better. Of women who didn’t previously think they could get a promotion who asserted themselves and acquired new positions. Everything about our client’s voice and demeanor gained an additional “sparkle” as she talked about this part of her work.
As the book emphasizes:
Hang on to what sets you apart, because that is what makes you special.
She is already fabulous. She does need to keep being herself. It is our job to help turn that passionate tone of voice and the joy with which she spoke of that work into a consistent social media presence that sparkles too.
How Do People Know You’ve Been in the Room?
I have intentionally withheld the name of the book which made such an impression on me (but you don’t have to wait much longer!).
Here’s a quote that sort of gives it away (a big, pink, furry, crystal-studded hint anyway):
Some women just start pretending they’re one of the guys, as if taking up golf and dressing in a suit will magically make their pay gap disappear. It’s a mistake.
I stayed true to who I was. For example, I covered my headphones with pink fur and crystals, so if anyone walked into my studio, they knew who they were getting right away.
Every boss I’ve ever had has seen my headphones and has said, “Of course you have pink fuzzy headphones,” and that was it. I love that I am who I am, and everyone else should too.
~ Michelle Visage, Author, The Diva Rules
Why does THAT passage prod me to think about what being “The Big Green Pen” means for me? It doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and bedazzle my green pen. It means owning the things that make me “me”: being committed to using language well (including correct grammar and punctuation!), encouraging people to find causes they feel strongly about and to move “beyond the hashtag” to tangibly impact those causes, inspiring people to “write optimistically,” whether they are composing a 140-character tweet or their first novel.
It means when I hand you a green pen (even if it’s not furry or crystal-encrusted), that I have taken the time to get to know you and determined from our interaction that you are making a positive difference in your part of the world. It means Of course you deserve your own big green pen. Below – when I gave Mark Miller, author of Chess Not Checkers, his own green pen!
Yes, the book that inspired me so much is a bit different than our typical Weaving Influence fare. I can’t recall any of our previous books that had sparkly letters on the cover, hot pink zebra print inner linings, or “color block” tables of content. But all of those things make this book by a woman who has built a thriving career, including being a television personality, radio show host, platinum-selling recording artist, and entertainment industry celebrity with a three-decade tenure, uniquely “her” while dispensing credible advice.
How can YOU be “more of you”?
I love everything about this. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve realized how much energy I’ve been spending trying to get validation from others. Gah! Listening inward is helping me learn to let that go and be who I am.
Thanks so much, Suzi! I’m excited for you. It seems it takes us a lifetime to figure some of these lessons out.
I just moved to Indiana, and I was literally going to get a vanity plate that says Kami Leon because I feel as though I need to reinvent myself, but I don’t have a specific image yet. Your post is having me rethink that. Instead of presenting a tabula rasa, I should make a vision board and pick a more concrete image. (I was CRONE2B in KS; I might go back to that. It’s literary, mythic, idealistic and refers to my gerontology work.) Thanks for taking the time to share your reading insights and personal quest.
Oh how interesting! I’d love to hear/see what you come up with!
Hi Paula! This is a message that applies to all of us regardless of whether we are working hard to “build” something or just be happy in our own skin. Learning to be more ourselves in the world today is a worthy goal. And personal happiness is the result. Thanks for the reminders. ~Kathy
You are so right, Kathy! It such an ongoing process — I guess that’s what makes it fun. That’s one of the things in The Diva Rules — Michelle has made many changes over her life, including being in a musical group that had a Platinum record (Seduction), a radio DJ career, her career on RuPaul’s Drag Race — all related to entertaining in various ways but also quite diverse from one another. I like how, toward the end of the book, she talked about incorporating meditation and other forms of looking inward in order to stay centered and in touch with her true self.
Even though I have been retired for 20 years I can still relate to your words. I have been a blog writer for many years but it wasn’t until I quit caring about what others were doing that I felt good about what I wrote. Honestly, it is being myself that makes it work.
Thank you. I hope the Women of Midlife that are reading this see the truth in your words.
Great comment, Barbara! I think some of my retired friends would say they truly started BECOMING themselves when they retired. I love how the world keeps handing us opportunities to discover and learn.
In this society of social media celebrities, it’s hard not to compare ourselves to others. We all need to remember to be the best You you can be.
That is so true, Brenda! Thanks for stopping by to comment. 🙂