I posted the following status update on my Facebook Fan Page yesterday while waiting for my return flight back to Denver following a weekend in Chicago at SOBCon (and a huge shout out to Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker for making it one helluva event):
“If you find that, at the end of the day, you haven’t done something that would potentially offend someone, what did you *do* all day? Stop acting as if the opinions of others matter more than your own and start LIVING. #shitivefiguredoutafter37yearsonEarth”
I’m unfiltered and unashamed. I’m having the love affair of my life with ME. And I’m never afraid to offend. If there’s one thing that I took away as a firmly reinforced rule by which to live and work is this:
If you don’t know who YOU are, how will anyone else?
Granted, there’s always the “fake it till you make it” element when we wander into a new space. I’m not talking about that. There’s also the evolution of a brand. Not talking about that either.
It’s the essence of YOU. Coca Cola and Dyson aren’t confused about who they are. I sat in front of Jay Jay French, Julien Smith, Chris Brogan, Steve Farber, Hank Wasiak and an absolutely adorable bartender at Morton’s Steakhouse this weekend (sorry – no weblink available) – confidence in who they are shimmered from every pore. (Dudes “sweat.” They don’t “shimmer.” I get it. Take the damn compliment.)
Look at your brand today, whether it’s YOU, YOUR COMPANY or YOUR CLIENT.
WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHAT TO DO BELIEVE?
You cannot appeal to everyone at all times. But I think a pretty good goal is to appeal to the people with whom you want to have a conversation.
Your audience does not sing kumbayah. They do not believe in wishes, unicorns, ponies with magical manes, Candy Mountain, fluffy pillows and walks on the beach.
More likely, they believe in things like family values, our nation’s president, that avocados and olives are the devil, cheese will kill them, The Oatmeal is funny as shit or that Suze Orman is a waste of tits.
Embrace them and give them a place to feel safe and hold conversations. If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing. If you don’t make your legs out as clear appendages, then the fall is twice as hard. Why are we so afraid to upset the apple cart? Maybe the folks on that cart aren’t the folks we want to talk to in the first place. Perhaps they are and you offend them anyway. If they run screaming, fine. If they engage in discourse, even better. If YOU engage with them over the subject of offense, then who’s the winner?
It’s YOU, buddy. Yeah, you (gives reader a noogie).
Go out today and be offensive. I’m not talking run-through-your-office-with-no-pants-on offensive, but grow a pair and have the audacity to put something out there knowing there will be backlash.
That’s when change happens.