My obsession with authenticity – as a business owner and a human.
I have 8-year-old twin boys at home, fraternal and frankly unlike each other in almost every way physically and behaviorally. When they have differences in opinions, or tastes, or can’t see eye to eye on what to “play” this afternoon, I’m famous for reminding them – “If we were all the same, what a boring world this would be.”
In the business world, perhaps more specifically in the B2B and IT landscapes, sometimes there seems to be this relentless pursuit of following a certain decorum – veiled under perceived professionalism. Almost a fear of standing out. Now I don’t think any marketing department would admit that, but I think at the very least they would recognize they go out of their way to not ruffle feathers, to be clean and concise, and to generally appease everyone with content that is overwhelmingly adverse to raising eyebrows.
When I launched my business, I remember aggressively utilizing social media platforms to market kind of what we were going to be about and even the partner programs we are a part of. I was told only a couple of months into it that some of my competition wasn’t thrilled that I was creating such visibility on to programs they were profiting from, perhaps inviting others to invade the space. I swear I remember hanging up the phone and thinking – well, that makes sense.. there is nothing they do that can potentially stand out against anyone that enters the space. They are quite comfortable winning the business by default.
It was a combination of that initial “feedback” I received, combined with a sort-of personal awakening in my late 30’s, that I decided I wasn’t going to do what everyone else does. I am a passionate man, I believe in what we are doing, and I believe we are the best option for our clients and partners. I am not going to shy away from putting myself out there, from speaking candidly, from pulling back the curtains so the world can see who we truly are. If it means you get information you can attempt to utilize against us or in your own way, by all means. Have it. Competition brings out the best in us. I welcome it.
As the years went on, partners and colleagues began to find my personal social media platforms. Candidly, and if you are seeing this you may know this, I am a pretty active social media user. For a period of time, I was super hesitant to accept requests from customers and partners. I had a decision to make, and I legitimately remember pondering this.
I went with #3 for a simple reason. I am trying to create legitimate and real relationships with these people, and it’s not an act. So why wouldn’t I just be myself? Over time hundreds of partners and colleagues have connected with me personally on-line, and I have never altered my content because of it. I don’t edit myself, I don’t hide my personal beliefs, I certainly don’t stage content for a certain audience. My friends, my family, my business partners, my employees, my customers – they all see the same version of me, which is not someone who is going to stand to the side and regurgitate the same talking points.
At the end of the day, understanding who I am and what I am about helps you gauge what I have built my business to be. Authenticity is in the fabric of our company culture, as I almost obsessively encourage our teammates to be exactly who they are when they walk through our doors. With this transparency, we run the risk of maybe not being everyone’s cup of tea. We run the risk of raising eyebrows when we wear our hearts on our sleeves. That’s ok, that’s something I can live with. I hope much more often than not, you see the true passion and determination we have to make our clients happy – and to create a work culture that emulates a lifestyle of living with zest and passion. I hope you want to do business with us because you feel the authenticity, because you genuinely feel like we want to do right by you. Because we do.
We may be a little more active, a little more “open book”, a little more public than most in our space. I may blur the lines with a personal social media post about music or sports or family or something off the wall that I felt compelled to share. I love and embrace that we are different. Just like I encourage my twin boys to embrace their differences.
After all, if we were all the same, what a boring world this would be.
CEO – Connected Solutions Group, LLC.