I’d like to tell you about one of the most important lessons I learned in business and how it almost ruined my blog.
When I was in college I was a bit of a hippie. Long curly hair. A little disheveled. Slept on couches a lot. And I was a creative person who always followed his heart. I was a journalism major primarily because I was attracted to the people of journalism — idealistic, passionate folks seeking the truth (at least we did back then!)
But a few years later, after a stint at a newspaper and a couple PR jobs, I found myself in a sales position in Los Angeles for a Fortune 100 company. I felt like a fish out of water. I was just not like the other hard-driving people on the team. I was much more interested in the personal relationships and what made people in business tick.
Losing the hippie heart
At one point, my company got into a very difficult quality claim with my customer. Both sides were angry and emotional. I remember being on a tough phone call with my boss, explaining to him what the “right thing” was to do.
He patiently explained to me that I needed to keep the emotion OUT of it. I was being paid to make logical decisions based on the numbers, not on what I thought was “right.”
Something new clicked. I now realized why I didn’t fit in. I was managing my account like Captain Kirk when the company wanted me to be like Mr. Spock. And, for the most part, they were right. Business is run by the numbers. That’s where I had to focus.
Slowly but surely the “hippie heart” was beat out of me. As I look back, I actually think this was a good thing. It challenged me to think in a new way and grew me as a person. I was certainly a better business leader by learning this lesson.
But it didn’t work on a blog.
When I started my blog, I took the same no-nonsense approach. I was focused on the numbers and delivering my precise “marketing message” to my “target audience.”
Two things happened at this stage in my blogging career.
First, nothing happened. Crickets.
Second, I became bored. Who wants to write about that stuff every week?
I began to relax and have more fun on the blog. I let my personality shine through and maybe even wrote something funny now and then. I would take a stand about things that were wrong or positions I believed in. Slowly, I let the “heart” back in.
And something magical happened. Instead of finding my target audience, my target audience found me! Wonderful, amazing people (like you!) from all around the world found a reason to connect with me. When the heart showed up, my readers rewarded me.
This was my most important lesson in blogging: Have the courage to let your heart shine through.
To stand out, you need to be original. To be original, you need to dig deep and be you. You really have no other choice, but that’s not easy is it?