A funny and wise Dr. Seuss once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Such a quote couldn’t be farther from the truth in the business world. Often times, we feel we have to project a particular image in order to be taken seriously in the business world. Problem is, that image often backfires, and we realize that we are better off just being who we really are.
Case in point – a few weeks back I went to an accounting seminar. I know, I know, kill me now, right? Well, the presentation was quite honestly just as bad as you probably imagine it would be. It got to the point where I was snapping a rubber band as hard as I could – across my eyeballs – just to stay awake.
We Meet Again
I won’t name names, but Mr. Accountant, who led the seminar, was dry and boring, sporting a suit so lame that I think he drummed it up from the 70s. He really fit the image of what you are probably imagining you’d encounter at such a seminar. Well, wouldn’t you know it, last Saturday night I run into this guy at a party that a friend is hosting.
The second I saw Mr. Accountant, I duck into the bathroom to hide. But I had to come out after a few minutes. Otherwise people might think there was something up. And as I walk out, sure enough, I run right into the guy.
Immediately, he recognizes me from the presentation, so we start talking. And it turns out the guy is funny. No, he’s actually hysterical. He starts talking about the funniest things in his life. He even stops the caterers, as they walk by, and offers me the last frou-frou food item they are serving. And the guy is dressed…well, like it is actually this year. He was surprisingly awesome!
The Irony of Self
As we talked, he dropped the line that actually inspired this article. He said, “I hate that I have to be all professional at work. I wish I could just be myself and make a living that way.”
The irony! By “being all professional,” this guy was leaving money on the table, and lots of it. When he gave his presentation, he was like he was a robot. Maybe for some customers Robot Man is cool, but I think most of us would choose not to work with him because of it. (I didn’t, after all.)
But when this guy was himself, at the party, I found someone that I could connect with. I felt comfortable asking him questions about his business, and learning more about the customers that he likes to work with and the ones he doesn’t. He gave a better and more interesting presentation at the party, ad hoc, than he did in a formal seminar.
The punch line here is probably obvious. He is now my new accountant. And the punchline for you should be obvious, too. Be yourself with your customers. Don’t put up a façade, or pretend to be what you think they want. Just be you.
The Real You
Customers and prospects are always evaluating you and, based upon the way you present yourself, they will choose to go with you or not. If you are not the real you, but instead try to be a robot version of you, then you will only attract customers who really like robots. And because you really aren’t that robot that you portrayed in your image, you will not like working for them. It will set you up to continuously have to pretend that you are someone you are not.
Now, if you are yourself, you will get customers that are like you. No faking, just the real you. And since you can now always be you, you will without a doubt get more customers. You are basically “selling 24/7” just by being you. After all, that’s how I got my accountant.
Oh, and those prospects who do not work with you because you are being the real you? Don’t worry about them. You wouldn’t have liked them anyway. Like Dr. Seuss said, those who mind seeing the real you don’t really matter anyway.