Angela’s Note – We are fortunate to have @JessicaKnows share with us. Jessica Smith is a Vice President in the Digital Practice at Fleishman-Hillard. She also blogs on her personal blog at JessicaKnows.com. She is also one of the first people I ever followed on Twitter and I’ve based this #10habits series on a similar project she did on her blog called #15days of marketing. Check it out for a “Step Two” after these Ten Habits finish up!
Yesterday Angela talked about being true with regard to the acronym TRUST and John Maxwell. Today, I want to talk about a different angle. I am still going to ask you to be true, but rather than putting it in the context of being true to your audience or clients…I want you to look within. Don’t get me wrong, your audience and your clients are uber important. However, if you do not remain true to yourself then you are doing everyone including you, a disservice.
Sometimes it’s easy to look at another blogger’s or competitor’s success and say to ourselves, “Maybe if I wrote more about XYZ…” or “Perhaps if we offered capability ABC…” then surely our traffic, our accolades, our awards, or our revenue would increase.
Here’s an example of what I mean:
When I first started blogging I enjoyed reading mom blogs because I was a relatively new mom and I aspired to be the domestic goddess, the super mom, the crafty queen, and the baking master I read about in so many of the blogs I was reading. The mom blogging community was one that while sometimes drama-laden, was warm and welcoming and I felt surrounded by those who inspired me to be more like them.
So naturally, I thought, when creating blog content of my own, I should write about my experiences with mommyhood, reaching my domesticated zen.
But there was a slight problem.
While I consider myself a really good mom, I’m an utter failure when it comes to being a domestic goddess. No. Really. I. Am.
What I do know a lot about though is marketing, branding, building alliances with people, threading people and experiences together to create a rich fabric of ideas, and learning from others and communicating those lessons.
So, I found with every blog post I wrote, the more I’d try to write it from solely a mom’s voice, the less connected I was with my readers. Here’s one stab I took at a parenting post when I talked about how much TV is too much for a preschooler. Not one of my more passionate posts. Now here’s one where I talk about whether or not bloggers should have a separate review blog. In most parenting circles the former topic would be considered more controversial and prone to debate than the latter. However, there was more conversation and controversy around the separate review blog post. Why? Because I had more to say on the subject and my readers were used to me offering commentary on blogger relations, marketing, advertising, and social media on my blog.
Staying true to one’s self has a lot to do with bring our past experiences, our education, and our expertise to the surface so that we might share it with others so that others might benefit. Sometimes that means we also share our learning processes as well. Bottom line: we’re all wired differently. I’ve been entrepreneurial since I was about five years old, selling watercolor paintings to my grandparents’ neighbors. I majored in communications and took part in leadership programs in college. My career started over 10 years ago with a role a large consulting firm that almost immediately put me outside of my comfort zone and taught me more about business in my first six months in the position than my entire time at college. I’ve found myself in the right place at the right time career-wise (like starting my career in the internet bubble 1999) but then had to transfer skills and reinvent myself for a new role just as many times (and when that same bubble burst 2001). I remain true to myself by sharing what I’ve learned from these experiences with my readers. And more often than not, I learn new lessons through the act of sharing those.
Do yourself a favor. Don’t compare yourself to anyone when it comes to blogging or your professional career. No one’s story is the same and your story is yours to tell. If something doesn’t feel right, listen to your gut. A colleague of mine said to me recently that as we get older we not only understand who we are, but more importantly…who we are not. To me, that sums it up nicely.
So here’s your exercises for today’s habit:
- Do an inventory of your life’s lessons learned, your education, your professional expertise, and your talents. Then think of ways to weave those into your blog posts. If you are not a blogger, think about how these lessons learned can be incorporated into your next proposal or the next brainstorm you partake in.
- Think of your life experiences as storytelling. Your summer renting beach chairs on the shore or that winter break you volunteered to distribute blankets to the homeless are relevant to the content you provide your audience and the experience your provide for your clients.
- Keep the story alive by continuing to learn. When was the last time you went out of your comfort zone? Is there an opportunity that you can identify in the next month that will enrich your life? Take it!
- Need help learning about what motivates you and allows you to stay true to yourself more often? Read Drive by Daniel Pink. This book really helped me to put things in perspective and I highly recommend it to anyone who is inspired to learn more about being true.
Visit the next Ten Habits post to learn about Focusing and When to Let Go.