I Am What I Am (or Yam)
Recently I was talking to a new connection, and potential collaborator, and she mentioned something about never really fitting into a corporate setting. It dawned on me that neither had I. Sure, I worked for a decade in television marketing and even got to be a Director of Marketing for a large cable channel, but the higher I got, the more I hated it. With every promotion it felt I could be less myself. That I had to play the game, pretend to be someone I wasn’t and leave the real Danielle at home. Back then, I could never have articulated this, but the truth is, the corporate world didn’t reward individualism and being yourself. They rewarded good corporate citizens who towed the party line and drank the Kool-Aid. I’ve never liked Kool-Aid.
Stay Gold Ponyboy
I always felt like a bit of an outsider. This isn’t to say I didn’t make friends, do good work and have a lot to show for those years, but I just wasn’t built to fit in, not say what I think and nod my head when the big boss was speaking. I always wanted to express exactly what I was thinking. And, well, I did. You can imagine how that went.
None of this is a judgment on anyone who thrives in corporate America or loves working in their organization. I think as an accidental entrepreneur (I was let go from my very last corporate job for — you guessed it — saying what I thought) I never reflected much on why working for someone else was a struggle for me. I just dove into freelancing because I’d been told I should and that I’d be good at it. And I also wanted to have more time with my son. But what I’ve come to realize is that I wanted to be myself — and inside those four walls I was never allowed to be.
Cubes are for Cocktails
Now, things have changed a lot since I was in a cubicle over 10 years ago. Today, being an individual is almost a requirement in order to stand out, in an organization or as a business owner. And to bring things completely full circle, my business is now solely about helping people do that. And I couldn’t be happier! This wasn’t by design, but it does feel like kismet in a way. The fact that almost daily people are calling me to help them be more them in their messaging, bring out their fun side and their humanity and not sound so generic, is just about the greatest thing ever. I almost want to pinch myself that this is my job.
Free to Be You
But the real reward is the process. Helping someone to pull out more of what they already have inside them is so amazingly freeing. It’s therapy! I give them permission to be more them. It’s crazy this is something that needs to be done, but we’ve all been brainwashed to hide the most human parts of ourselves. Our friends and family get to see it, but colleagues, clients and co-workers? Nope, they get watered down us. They get black suit us. And that has to stop.
The world is clamoring for connection and that can’t happen when we give them nothing to connect to. They want to know what we do in our spare time, what we love, what music we listen to, our favorite color, or even something we really don’t like (sorry Cats). That one tidbit can make all the difference between indifference and interest.
You, Only More You
So how can you start to pull out more you in your message? Take a look at your LinkedIn page. Do you have an about section? Does it refer to you in the 3rd person? Or worse, does it say something like “Seasoned executive with 20 years of experience BLAH BLAH…” Try punching that up to say something compelling and interesting like “I have a fondness for cake and a knack for crushing spreadsheets. Sometimes at the same time.” How can you be creative and provocative?
If you have a website, go look at your About page and do the same thing. This is the single most important page on your website, hands down. (Here's mine if you want to peek.) People won’t hire you if they don’t feel like they know you. So show them who you are. If they flee, great. Not your people. If they reach out, great. They are your people.
And of course, if you need help with either of these, or anything else, you know what to do.
We have all heard the expression, ‘you are your biggest asset.’ So why do so many of us feel reluctant to let our personality shine in business? Maybe it’s because we don’t know how. Or worse, we fear showing too much of ourselves will alienate potential clients. Surprise! It’s actually the opposite. People are hungry for personality. That’s what drives connection.
Join me at Fly Female Founders to learn how to develop your Personality Brand to stand out in a sea of sameness and a world of duplicates.
You will learn:
How to lean into who you are to create die-hard fans
How to create content and messaging that positions you and your services to be distinct from everyone else
How to highlight your uniqueness in a genuine and relatable way
How to not be afraid to go big or go home (or at least go bigger)
How your genuine personality creates affinity and affection.