Here’s the short version for those of you with limited time: people buy from people. There’s nothing revolutionary about that statement, we all know it.
If you’re relatable, other people will more naturally want to engage with you. When you sound like a corporate robot, or like every other company, influencer or guru in your field, then your voice is lost in a sea of endless blurb. You’ll have to fight harder to be heard.
I’ve absolutely spent time in my past life falling prey to the notion that if I rounded myself out to be like everybody else in the room then I would blend in. By virtue of blending in, I would be much more palatable, relatable, and likable. That actually worked a few times – it even won frankworks a few clients a couple of times. The problem is, I’m not relatable when I’m bullshitting.
I can’t BS long-term and it’s not hard to tell when that’s happening, because for most of us, we can tell when someone is being deceptive, and people can read it in us too. Ergo, frankworks is based on a cornerstone of no-BS because I genuinely can’t do it, and the people who choose to join the team also can’t do it either.
You ever heard a fake laugh? Seen a fake smile?
Ever had someone make awkwardly forced eye contact with you because we’ve all been taught in Western culture that eye contact is a thing we do to show ‘respect’ (plenty of other cultures say the opposite, and man, do I agree). Ever had a weird wet fish handshake from someone who clearly doesn’t want to touch anyone but they have to because it’s corporate etiquette?
I guarantee you answered yes to at least one of those, and if you did, then you know what I mean by losing your ‘voice’.
Your voice is the thing that people buy. They buy the stories you tell, the words you use, your body language, your mannerisms, your point of view, your perspective, your approach, your experience and your experiences – they buy all the stuff that is quintessentially yours. No other body on the planet can have those things quite like you, and no amount of mimicry can change that, as evidenced by the fact none of us can stand being insulted by a fake laugh to a joke, even if it was lame.
I had a choice when I started this business, and still do, to this day, to be what I am, or to emulate something else.
The first comparison I actually flirted with mimicking briefly (I know) that comes to mind is that of the #bossbabe, someone with a perfectly manicured Instagram feed of aesthetics and captions that spout about how #blessed and #motivated they are. They move through the world on a pastel pink cloud of joy and no bad days, and no swear words and such a blessed existence. And, ok, good on them. If that is the voice they choose, then have at it homie.
While I am blessed, and I am motivated, I can’t pretend to be something I’m not just to win a bit of work, or to appeal to a wider audience. I can’t do that. I tried for a long time when I was suited and booted, and it nearly killed me.
As a result, I have accepted that I can be polarising, and I understand that it impacts the business in that it influences the clients who choose to work with us, but ultimately, that’s A-ok because not everyone is a good fit for everyone else. The older frankworks gets, the easier it has become for me to stay in my voice because I appreciate that the clients who choose to work with us take my voice for what it is and they use it to their advantage – a strength they can jump off.
They know what they’re getting, they know what they’re not getting, and they know there won’t be any time wasted in fluffing around – they can call it straight, and likewise, we will do the same. I’ve found that’s the best way to get shit done, to keep costs down, and most importantly, to stay true to what we are, what this business is, and who I am.
The summary to takeaway is this: don’t buy into the BS. Use your voice, practice staying comfortable in it and keep it. Work on refining it and developing it, but don’t leave it behind somewhere in favour of the latest fad. Your voice is the sum total of everything that you are, and that person is the same person who works hard, who has valuable ideas, who has or works with staff and customers who continue to choose to be there, day after day. They’re choosing it, don’t forget that.