While I was waiting in line at Pieology Pizzeria the other day, I read something that resonated very strongly with me. Immediately I started to reflect on my life, my company, my career and the decisions I make on a daily basis. Here’s what I saw:
I felt such a huge sigh of relief, because it made me remember so many of the basics I had learned when I was younger, but forgotten somewhere along the way.
If you’re not yourself, people will know.
Have you ever heard someone say “That shirt is wearing you.” or “She doesn’t look comfortable in her own skin”? That simply means they appear uneasy or don’t fit the look they are trying to portray.
People often say to me “Are you really going to wear that?” (with a little chuckle). I usually respond jokingly with “I’m setting the trend baby.” But it’s not a joke. I like trying out new things. I welcome change. And sometimes I just feel like wearing obnoxious 1970’s swimming trunks with flamingos and palm trees on them.
My wife sometimes doesn’t feel confident in what she wears because she’s worried what people will think. I say, “You just gotta own it! Make it look good.” But she’s the only person I know who can wear parachute pants, tank top and feather earrings.
Whenever I see someone dressed eclectically or beyond the norm, I don’t jump to opinion or biased critique. No, I immediately think “That person must have a lot of confidence.” That’s just me. While others are sneering, ridiculing or assuming that he/she is doing it for attention, I see something else: A person who feels great in their own skin, isn’t afraid to show their personality and attract others to their sense of ideals.
What if a company exuded that type of self-assurance?
Confidence is key.
If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you ever expect a potential client to buy something from you? Or expect the CEO to fund an initiative that you’re not gung-ho on? Selling is more about one’s identity than what we are actually selling. To quote the best comedy ever, “These people are buying you, not just brake pads.”
If you act like someone else or your company tries to emulate everything a competitor does, that means you don’t have confidence in your abilities. Have you ever worked for a company that made you feel more confident, more powerful, more excited to take on new and exciting projects?
I thank my lucky stars every night that I work for a company that is growing yet stable within its roots; fun to work for but aggressive in its business approach; cryptic in the minutia but straightforward in the overall strategy. It keeps us young, fresh and energetic – or what I like to call innovative, poised and self-reliant. We believe.
Strong identity equals success.
Like the Apple’s, AirBnB’s, Caterpillar’s and Tilly’s of the world, companies with a strong identity, moral business objective and excellent communication skills are oftentimes more equipped to deliver on their promises to customers. That’s because people believe them.
Still a skeptic? Here’s a survey from 700+ executives that claims 25% of all companies that were seen as having a stronger identity outperformed their competitors in terms of average annual revenue. There you go. It’s not only possible but it is prevalent and proven.
I think the reason these companies are so successful is because they have clear, digestible and powerful identities that people can get behind. Think about it. A company’s identity connects everything they do – the value proposition of their offering, their list of competencies and capabilities, the unique set of products and service they provide and (some may argue) the internal values of the company. They run hand-in-hand like PB&J.
Stick to your core values.
In my first interview with the Founder/President of my company, he said, “You know why I’ve been so successful?” Before I could answer he said “I’ve never screwed anyone over.” To this day I know it to be true because I’ve witnessed that fairness time and time again. I’ve never seen someone go out of their way so much to ensure the right thing is done and that people are happy.
His character revealed his true nature, which was to be 1.) a good person, 2.) a good leader and 3.) an even better salesman. And with that he is able to keep people happy by offering a challenging yet relaxed work environment, likable team members, competitive pay, flexible schedules and a culture that rewards go-getters.
Unlike many business owners, he could pinpoint the catalyst for this success – truthfulness, accountability and fairness — and had conviction in its merits. Those are pretty good feelings to have when entering a new job.
Let others learn from YOU.
For a company like Axis Technical – though we have 150+ employees in Orange County, Denver and Pune, India – it can be a challenge when competing with others in the marketplace that are much, much larger. Or so one would think!
Something I hear a lot is “When I was at [insert company]…”, or “When I worked with [insert company]…” – Let’s stop right there! We are not our competitors. We are Axis! There’s a reason we have grown leaps and bounds over the past 15 years and turned big deals into even bigger deals – because we deliver with confidence and stand behind the relationships we develop. Our approach, our successes, our clients, our human capital, our skill sets. We’re even confident about our missteps (or at least our ability to adapt and respond).
It’s exciting to imagine what the future holds when a company holds true to itself and itsIDENTITY. We’ve done things that put us above the rest and we love that about ourselves. Our clients above all know this, as do our employees and partners.
Yes, you can learn from others – be it friends, enemies, family, and competitors alike – but they can learn a great deal from you as well. Set the example. Others will follow your lead.
Set it. Own it. Live it.
I need to go Pieology more often.
Not just because their food is the bomb but because I felt I belonged there.
I don’t go there just for the food. I go there for the other customers, the photos displayed from around the world (because I love to travel), the laid back attitude, the cleanliness and excellent customer service. Those are all things that I value. And from the looks of the line they have running out the door everyday, many others value the same things.
The same applies to business. What values do you share with your clients, partners and prospects? Unbeknownst to you, there could be countless similarities that could create or cultivate a lasting relationship. It’s very likely you haven’t even scratched the surface with those other companies.
I think it’s our underlying values that seem to shine through strongest when we identify with other companies. How are we ever supposed to appreciate corporate individuality unless we spend some time in the trenches? We may not always like what we find, and others might not like what they find, but if every company was the same, the world would be a very boring place.
Companies with strong identity never apologize about their culture, delivery methods, values, product offerings or methodology. They are proud of who they are and where they are headed.
Are you proud of the company you work for?
Are you proud to be you?