Rewind to high school.
If you?re reading this article, likely some time that has passed between now and then. You probably have a good idea of how you were viewed. Maybe you wanted everyone to understand that you had a great sense of humor, but now you realize that while people wanted to like you, (and even thought you were funny some of the time) overall, your antics got in the way of class privileges and even friendships. You see now that you were the class clown.
Perhaps you have a gift for empathy and were genuinely mature beyond your years, you recognized the difficulties and pain that your teachers went through as well as what made them happy; you wanted to show that you were a nice person and were focusing on the right things and now you know you actually were (and still are) thought of as the teacher’s pet. Perhaps you wanted people to know you were tough and you became the insecure bully to those who watched?
Fast forward to now.
Chances are, if you?re reading this you probably manage or own your own business. If your organization is large enough, you may even have one of those coveted jobs which focuses solely on managing your company’s image or brand. We know you have an idea of how you would like for the public, (or your clients, or your industry) to view you.
Let’s ask some questions:
- Do you actually know how you are viewed?
- Are you focusing on the right people?
- Do you say you care about expanding your business (and know that your clients expand your business) but focus all of your ‘branding’ energies on things that only people in your industry care about and/or understand?
- Are your actions in line with your goals as a company?
- If you focus on impressing those people in your industry, do those people actually currently fuel growth in your company? or is that something that you are hoping will one day take place?
- Are you doing things because you like them or because they’re what your customers seek from you?
Sometimes the biggest lies we tell, are the ones we tell ourselves. Sometimes we just need to get out of our own way.
There is a wonderful case study outlined at Social Media Today about how Target got their social media approach right with FaceBook and Wal-Mart failed miserably. Target understood that their Facebook users at the time were primarily college freshmen who were looking to outfit their dorm rooms with survival in mind. They understood that the value they could present to their audience was that they could get something decent and functional at the same time. WalMart tried to position themselves as the place to go for style. We all know that WalMart has two positions: retail evil and low-price; not style. I could write on and on about this, but fortunately someone smarter than me already has.
Realize your vision. Realize your potential; realize who understands your potential.
There’s a saying we pass around J House Media is (that I think I stole from Sergio Zygman). “Sometimes it’s hard to see the label from inside the bottle.” I encourage you to at the very least find someone who can be a genuine mirror for you. Maybe you say “word of mouth is your greatest advertising”. It surely is. Find ways to listen in on the conversation that’s being said about you. Start a social media campaign. Build a social networking site for your industry or company. Leave short, anonymous surveys in exchange for candy “on the honor system” in your waiting room (think of the mints you get for donating to the March of Dimes). Get some friends to ask your clients offhand why they chose you and maybe even what you can do better, what else you could offer or even what is unnecessary.
Chances are, the people who spend their hard-earned money with your company have legitimate ideas you?ve never considered of how you can fulfill your potential in your marketplace. If you can manage to learn about some of these ideas and look at them alongside your cherished vision for “what your company will one day be”, then maybe (just maybe) you will see a new vision and one that is far more impactful and far more attainable than what you have struggled for all these years.
Sometimes the bully listens to others, learns true leadership and becomes a great coach; every now and then a teacher’s pet sees who she is, then changes lives and saves marriages by becoming a counselor. Sometimes the first step in realizing our vision, is being will to see ourselves as we are. Sometimes doing great things is not far from being comfortable in our own skin.
Thanks for listening. I look forward to hearing who you see J House Media as. If you have a word for me personally, I invite you to leave an anonymous note in my honesty box on FaceBook.