I know for many of my fellow actors the direction they hate most is “Be more yourself”. For many this begs the question “Who am I?” or probably more so, “Who do they they think I am?“!
There’s always been peer pressure. Now though we are constantly bombarded with images, memes and conflicting rules of who it is OK to be.
Of course that doesn’t even take into account your family and friends, work connections, etc. you know, the people you actually know in the real world.
I think this conflict between what is expected of you and who you are can be acute for creatives. For some lucky creative creatures they get the support of their family from the very beginning. For many though, constant questions and statements about getting a ‘proper job’ and how much can you earn and “Isn’t it dreadfully competitive?” could wear you down over the years. Especially, if you’re finding it challenging to make a consistent living from your chosen creative path.
However it is only by really tapping into who you are can you make yourself distinct enough and attractive enough to your ideal audience. I believe that many people know this and yet just find it too scary to do.
I get it, I do. This requires being vulnerable. It means opening yourself up to criticism and negativity. It means being the tall poppy that dares to stand up and be counted – risking getting your head chopped off.
Think about this in another way. Say you run a film production company that makes transformational documentaries about amazing people. Imagine you were invited to go to a horror film festival to submit your work. You wouldn’t do so because they probably wouldn’t appreciate your gifts and would much prefer to watch another horror movie.
In fact, you would probably think that the person who invited you to do so was a bit weird because they’d asked. In this context you understand that your work isn’t for everybody. You may love or loathe horror films personally, however you would get that the horror audience, by and large, is a different audience to yours.
Now apply this same thinking to yourself.
1. Best Bragging
Think about the best of you, who you are being when you’re truly in flow. Write down at least 3-5 aspects of you when in this place. Think about where in your life and work you are most trusted.
This is no place for humble pie! Feel free to brag away, even when – especially when – these are aspects that others haven’t noticed or appreciated about you in the past.
2. Crazy Quirks
What are those things about you that set you apart from other people? Perhaps even the things that you hide from others because you are embarrassed or ashamed. These could be anything from you not travelling abroad much because of your fear of flights, to doing your best work at 2am in the morning, to having to have a specific brand of coffee or you can’t function.
Write these down too – don’t worry nobody is going to see them but you.
Now taking each of these things in turn, write down what positive thing that says about you. Imagine yourself as a spin doctor and get dizzy…
For instance, not flying could mean that you’re more available. Doing your best work at 2am could mean that you can be more responsive to urgent requests and/or work with people in other time zones around the world. The coffee thing could mean that you are particular, fussy even, and have a specific kind of taste which would influence how you approach your clients’ work. Get the idea?
3. The Best of Others
Now think about the kind of people that you really enjoy being around. What are their personalities, interests, crazy quirks, etc? Again write down at least 3-5 aspects of these people.
Next, write down how each of these things could apply to your customers and team members. In what way would these show up in who they were being and how that would influence your working practices.
4. Where’s the Synergy?
Looking at the answers from the 3 previous questions, play around with them and think about embracing these aspects into your business. In what ways could your business be different? Consider the following:
- Your product offering(s)
- Your ideal customer
- Where and when you work/deliver
- Who you work with in your team – virtual or otherwise
- Your work environment
- Working patterns
- The projects you work on
- Your ongoing processes
- Your marketing
Once you’ve got some ideas list them down, evaluate them, decide which ones you want to implement and prioritise them. Ideally make the first couple of ideas on the list ones that can be implemented straight away to give you some quick wins. Schedule time to execute the others now while it is top of your mind.
5. Build Yourself Into Your Brand
Now that you have these ideas on how to build more of yourself in your business, it’s time to consider how this may affect your brand. Is it the case that this just tweaks your customer experience, or is it a more far reaching change?
Whatever the case do take some time to think about how these changes could influence how you communicate with customers and your ideal audience. Your logo may not need to change but perhaps you might take a different approach in how you want referral partners to recommend you.
Maybe you could tweak your strapline and/or elevator pitch to more accurately reflect how your business is distinct from others in the same field.
Perhaps you could highlight the one product offering that you know is your signature thing that really sets you apart in the market…
No matter what decisions you make at least you can be more confident that you can answer: “Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?” Anon
About the Author
Una is a Business Coach & Strategist for Creative Services Providers (Design, Animation, Marketing/Digital Agencies, etc.). She helps them to stand out from the crowd confidently & profitably so they can attract high-level, 'Ready to Invest' clients, doing creative work that fills their hearts with pride - WITHOUT selling their soul or adding extra workload.