Put Your Feet Up — Entrepreneurial Success Tip #7

That is to say, be yourself.

A woman who has worked for me several times likes to tell a funny story that happened back in the SalesLogix days. A partner came in upset and making demands. She says that I leaned back, put my feet on my desk and let the partner vent. She said she was surprised with my seeming nonchalant. When they were done, I looked across the desk and said, “I’m sorry you’re upset, but I’m not going to do any of the things you want me to do.” The partner was apparently stunned, but then we had a good conversation about what we could do to make him happier. At the end of the meeting, everyone left satisfied.

I don’t actually remember the incident, but it sounds just like me. If you’re in my office talking, odds are good my feet will be on my desk. I’m a feet on the desk kind of guy. And that’s the point of my story. Be yourself.

Benjamin Franklin said, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

I don’t know if everyone could get away with responding to the partner the way I did, but I don’t know any other way to be. I’ve made a career out of being direct, no-nonsense and to-the-point. That is to say, being me. As I understand it, the partner’s demands were unreasonable and the things he was complaining about were not of our making. Still, I guess I could have just as easily acquiesced and appeased him, but that wouldn’t have been true to who I am. Why is that important? Because when you’re an entrepreneur, people need to trust in who you are and what you’ll do. It’s about authenticity and consistency. Partners, employees, customers and investors need to see leadership they can trust and depend on. The partner didn’t respond negatively to my response just because he trusted my judgment, but because he trusted me.

When I speak to entrepreneurs, I often talk about the importance of persistence, perseverance and tenacity–three things that have served me well. Why? Because at the end of the day, what all three share is a pit bull doggedness and refusal to give up, and that’s never more important than when it comes to being yourself. Never cease to be you. There’s a million “thems” out there, and they all work for someone else.

If you are truly prepared, have the courage of your convictions and be yourself.

Never forget that you are your single most important asset. Trust your instincts, be yourself and own who you are. Always.


Originally published at www.ryver.com on July 6, 2016.