Authenticity in a world of people pleasing
Dear social media world and world in general:
I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you. We can’t be all things to all people, nor is it possible to make all people happy. In truth, happiness comes from within, so it’s not my job to “make” anyone feel happy.
The rose colored lenses of what is portrayed via social media is interesting, sad, and awesome all at the same time. Most of us want to put our best foot forward and be a beacon of light for people. That’s my schtick and i’m sincere about it. In an effort to maintain authenticity, i’ll share glimpses and perspectives from things I deal with and struggle with in life. That may not be the easiest to craft a sentiment that’s both vulnerable and optimistic, but I do my best.
Which brings me back to this concept of people pleasing. It has to stop. For me, for you, for everyone. Society at large is far too concerned about what other people think. The heck of it is that the stories we wrap around what happened are typically far worse that what actually happened. Conversely, some stories are heroized and put on this pedestal that is unattainable as it’s not even real.
John C. Maxwell wrote a book (many books) titled “Everyone communicates, few connect”. Let that land with you. We all communicate, but how often are you connecting with another person? How often are you adding value to another person’s life? My mission in life is to add value to others. In a recent conversation with a friend, this topic came up and they mused that i’m building a business leveraging social media and they are not, so they don’t care about that. The perspective I shared is that in friendship, if we are not adding value to another, is it really friendship? Do you only call me when you need something or do you check in to see how i’m doing and take that casual route to build connective tissue? I learned that the hard way long ago. One of my good friends and I were trading back and forth and things were just out of balance. When I phoned him about something one day, he replied, “Mike, do you only call me when you need something?!” That was the sack of bricks upside the head that I needed. It was a powerful life lesson that I was out of balance in that friendship. Never again I thought to myself. As embarrassing as that felt or as awful as I felt to have done that, I learned a great deal that day. Regardless of building your business person to person, traditional marketing, or social media marketing, you must connect the heart of your mission/product in a relatable way. Being authentic to yourself or your company’s mission statement, whilst relating how this can help solve a problem for you or make your life better, is how you’re going to land with someone.
As that relates to people in business, let’s not forget that some rapport and relationship always needs to precede the recommendation. Too many people are out recommending everything under the sun. All they talk about in their sales pitch/conversation/free lunch, is their product. That’s insanely backwards. Simon Sinek has one of the best TED talks of all time, Start With Why, where he demonstrates just that. Lead with your why, which is your heart and passion as to why you’re doing the thing in the first place. He mused that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. I already knew that people buy on emotion and justify with facts and he laid it out in a way that makes it easier for people to rearrange their conversations.
I teach the people in my business to be more interested than interesting. Yet due to the nature of social media, your posts need to be interesting or they don’t gain traction or interaction. When you truly want to connect with someone, you need only speak from the heart. If they don’t get you after communicating as aforementioned, then bless & release! There are 350 million people in North America. Move on. Next. Need more perspective? There are more people in the state of California than the whole of Canada. You have plenty of people to practice with and there’s more than enough to go around.
When Oakley sunglasses started out, there was one sales rep for the western states and one for the east. Actually, they started in the west and worked their way to the second rep in the east. As sales grew, they carved up the territories and added other reps. Can you imagine being the only Oakley sunglass rep for all of California? Crazy to imagine. As they grew, the sales territories got smaller and smaller. Today, one rep doesn’t even get a whole city. They might have optic accounts, or golf specific or bike shops, so specializing has proven profitable. And then the company sold out so it’s not Jim Jannard’s baby anymore, but he’s $4B ahead. Funny side note is the company was named after his dog!
You can’t make all people happy. It’s not possible, so please for your own sanity’s sake, stop trying to do that. It doesn’t mean be a jerk whenever the mood strikes. What it does mean is to be authentic with who you are. I love the story from Gary Vaynerchuk when he ran podcasts on his wine business. He found that a percentage of people hung up in the first 60 seconds. Let’s call it 22%. Had he chased the 22% of those people who didn’t get him, what would have happened to the 78% who were still there? I feel that’s one incredibly valuable life lesson! Gary said, “Legacy is better than currency”. Wow, that’s a thought provoking statement. As a parent, this is a burning desire. I want my kids to have wisdom and know how to navigate life. Look at the Fortune 500 CEO’s and the divorce rate therein. It’s nothing short of sad. No i’m not saying being a Fortune 500 CEO equals divorce, but most of them have been so maybe we need to call a spade a spade and look to the imbalances that exist in life and the repercussions and fallout. Gary also said, “I want to beat you, but I want to be your best friend. I care so much what people think of me and you’ll never meet anybody who cares less of what people think of me. And so I’m a contradiction.”
That might sum up social media and our authenticity and transparency quite well. It’s ok to be competitive and love people at the same time. Competition can be incredibly healthy and it can be incredibly damaging depending on how you run with it and how you view it. Tell the choleric personality they can’t do it and they’ll die trying. But the sanguine personality just wants it to be a good time. I could go all day about the four major personalities and how to motivate them, how to use them to strengthen any organization or even any family dynamics, but that’s a course all on it’s own. Florence Litauer wrote the best book on the topic, Personality Plus; simply outstanding!
Seth Godin called it your tribe. This is another way to gain perspective on how to connect with people. If you’re too busy trying to be all things to all people, then no one will get you, you’ll be good at nothing, mediocre at best, and you’ll never find great success. This is coming from someone who’s a jack of many trades, but i’ve mastered a few! Building your tribe is in part a way to cultivate your warm market, but also a place to mastermind with people you trust to give you honest feedback. Without feedback, how do you get better? Every athelte has had a coach to give them feedback. The adjustments you need to make might be obvious to someone who’s not as emotionally connected. It’s like an airplane; they spend 90% of their time off course, yet they seem to land on time for the most part. It’s the constant course corrections made, those little adjustments along the path that get them where they set out to go!
Be OK with not everyone getting you. Realize that running a strategy or marketing plan on social media for your business should focus in as an expert in something, the same way a physician will specialize in medicine. You don’t get your heart fixed by an orthopedic surgeon, nor does the pediatrician do rounds in the oncology post op. The guy who rebuilt my shoulder does shoulders 70% of the time and the remaining 30% he does knees. Holy cow, he doesn’t do feet, elbows, the Tommy Johns surgery, prehensiles, just shoulders and knees, and mostly shoulders.
Put your business marketing strategy up against that. Now what would you say you’ve been doing? Better yet, where do you want to go with things? Find a need and fill it. People do business with who they know and like and trust. Hence, rapport and relationship coming before recommendation. The amount of money you make in your lifetime will be commensurate to the amount of problems you help others solve.
Why do you think referral business is a common thread for realtors, commercial brokers, financial planners, CPA’s, doctors, restaurants, vacation spots, and on and on? Because that person (or team) did so well by others that those people couldn’t help but want to recommend them to their family & friends. As with anything else in life, there are always exceptions, but the people who strive to be the exception rarely hit their mark. Maybe it’s the brand that catches traction and becomes popular, say a designer. Even though you didn’t have rapport and relationship with that designer, there’s a perception to a connection of trust. You’ll hear people say things like, “oh i just love Ralph Lauren’s latest styles” They’ve never met him, but certainly have a level of trust in that he’s been consistent in trends, quality, and style. The key to all of that is consistency. Are you consistent in what you do and how you do it? Are you hot and cold or seasonal or always changing your offense? Pick a way you’re going to run and be the freaking Yoda super genius at that thing. Dominate your niche.
Strive to be the one who gets referred, by doing the best job possible by others, for others, like that deal means your next meal.
Cheers to your success!