The process of starting and growing a business can be a very lonely path.
Everyone tells you (wisely!) that you must provide ways to differentiate yourself from the crowd of others in your profession, lest you circle the drain of generic anonymity on the web (is there a fate worse?).
We have to answer the fundamental question of “why me?” Why would you hire me as a software developer/business coach/marketing consultant rather than the other three people you are evaluating at the moment?
We also have to answer the question of “how am I different?” to clarify the specific gifts, unique approach or special tools you bring to the table.
While on the plane yesterday, I read a story in the American Airlines Magazine about a life coach who teaches through the metaphor of Harry Potter (heroinetraining.com).
“Perhaps you grew up dreaming of receiving your Hogwarts letter, or stumbling upon Narnia. Perhaps you long to visit Pemberley, to Defy Gravity, or to go to the ball. I will write you that letter, and build you that wardrobe.”
I, in fact, did always think that I was going to stumble upon Narnia. On winter break in 1976 when I was in 5th grade, I checked out the entire seven book Narnia series from the San Anselmo Library and read them in my orange bean bag chair in front of the fireplace. I only got up to eat pancakes, take a bath and sleep. (That, incidentally, is also the winter break where I got really good at building fires, a skill I am proud to say I have not lost).
So when I read copy like I found on heroinetraining.com, it did strike something deep in my heart. It stands out from a big crowd of “live your best life!” life coach messages. I do live a pretty awesome life, and I am not unhappy.
But Narnia … I want Narnia.
Find your unique through more of the same
As I was pondering this idea of differentiation, I flashed on Hajj Flemings.
Since meeting him when I spoke at his BrandCamp event in Detroit a few years ago, I have eagerly followed his work. His love for business emanates from a love for community. The two are inextricably linked. You can’t have economic development without community development. You can’t build a community without building relationships as a true partner. Before you can even begin to develop a new idea, you have to spend a lot of time listening.
As I have settled onto Main Street in Mesa and am building the business model foundation for the next 5 years, I thought of all the work that Hajj has done in Detroit.
And by chance, this week, he flew into Phoenix for a CEOs for Cities conference. So he came straight from the airport to K’é.
He told me about his new project called Rebrand Cities with WordPress as a strategic partner.
We had a wonderful talk as I walked him around downtown Mesa and we met with local business owners.
Then we did a Facebook Live about the vision of the project that you can find here:
When Hajj left, I felt huge inspiration, support, creativity and renewed enthusiasm for our work downtown Mesa.
I felt like I was not alone, like I was connected to a bigger pulse, and a network of peers.
This time, the innovation didn’t come from connecting with people who held dissenting views (which is important).
It came from spending time with my business doppelgänger – someone who shares so much in common with me around core values and business vision that I felt like I understood my own work, and how to differentiate it, on a deeper level.
I want the same for you in your work!
Your business doppelgänger challenge:
Before the end of the year, see if you can identify and connect with at least one person who you feel deep synergy with in how you approach your work.
- Who can you find that shares similar values, passions and interests about your field of work?
- Who runs their business like you run yours (or aspire to)?:_______________________________________________
- How can you reach out and connect with at least one business doppelgänger before the end of the year?_______________________________________________
- Once you experience the expansiveness of deep connection around shared purpose, how do you look at your own uniqueness in a different way? _______________________________________________
Dissent builds innovation.
Synergy breeds creative fuel.