Photo by Anna Fischer
I finished Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It! a while back, and surprisingly, I was a big fan. Nothing against @garyvee or course, it’s just that I had feared the book would mostly be an instructional for sites like YouTube. I was dead wrong.
While the book does have beginner training on technologies that most of us already know (Twitter, YouTube, etc.), it also adds some excellent thoughts on not being afraid to be us.
What’s Your DNA?
A major part of Gary’s book is about finding your true DNA and using it to rock your business. Gary, admittedly, is a bit of a “live wire”. The man is intense. If you’ve seen any episodes of Wine Library TV, you know what I’m talking about. Gary has reached incredible success by embracing his high-energy appearance. Sure, he could dial his rhetoric down a notch and possibly retain 4% more of his audience. But Gary knows that’s not him, and trying to be someone else is hard work.
If you’re like me, you’ve got a lengthy list of quirks. For example, I have an unhealthy fascination with jackalopes and squirrels. I re-write radio tunes with my own corny lyrics. I’m an extrovert and an introvert rolled into one. I dissect songs to their basic elements, replaying them over and over until I’ve figured them out (much to my wife’s chagrin). I like to mix random ingredients while cooking otherwise simple dishes. And I’ll be a people-pleaser till the day I die.
I could go on and on.
Yet I spend most of my time attempting to cover up the things that make me different than everyone else.
Sharing the weird little things that I do–the things that make me me–makes me vulnerable. But I’d imagine that you’re a tad more comfortable with me for sharing these quirks. You know things about me that I have a hard time admitting to even myself. We’ve become that much closer, and you’re more comfortable with me.
I’ve helped earn your trust.
The Special Sauce
Often We don’t take advantage of our quirks, of the things that give us that little something that makes us interesting. Because let’s face it: the Internet is becoming a boring place. We have a serious “monkey see, monkey do” syndrome. Nobody wants to be different, we all want to copy what’s working and not what we are.
And I’m as guilty as the next guy.
How ironic is it that we try to squash things that make us unique to “help” our brand? Here are some things that I’ve done to cover up my
weird unique qualities.
- I haven’t really tweeted any music recommendations. Music is such a huge part of my life. I figured that people would only be interested about stuff that they’d find on LifeDev.
- In the past LifeDev has had a lot of “list” posts (ie. “30 Ways to Make XYZ awesome“). It’s not that I think list posts are bad, I just find them draining to write. (And personally, I’m kind of getting tired of how often they pop up on the web.) From now on I’m writing what I want. If it’s a list post, then it’s a list post. I won’t feel pressure to do so.
- I haven’t started a number of projects for reasons like fear of failure. Nobody wants to read about a failure, right?.
- I haven’t starting posting daily pictures of jackalopes or squirrels. (Not sure I’ll ever do that… we’ll see. There’s a fine line between turning people away and scaring people away.)
By suppressing the bits that make me unique, I’ve watered my personal brand down. I’ve tried to sand off the edges that don’t fit in with everything else.
But can you remember the last time you were truly interested in something or someone really boring? We’re magnetically drawn to interesting people. People who have changed things and made us think differently about how we think and live. Gandhi, Einstein, Muhammad Ali, Lennon… these weren’t ordinary people.
They were people with quirks.
Sure, it’s hard being me. But it’s even harder trying to be someone else. It’s not easy being a fake; we’re never totally satisfied with who we are.
A disclaimer: The results won’t always appear to be positive. Since I’ve been eating my own dog food and changing the type of content I publish, I’ve dropped some Twitter followers on my account. Maybe I’ve lost some subscribers to LifeDev (though numbers have been up). I’m OK with that. There’s always going to be a small fraction of people who want a different me. But that’s not who I am. Odds are that I’d lose more followers faking my way through tomorrow.
So what aspect of you are you pushing deep down? What are you keeping others from seeing? It just might be the thing that brings them closer to you.