What did we see in 2018?
We saw the underdogs rise to the top and everyone flock to the island of misfit toys.
The concept of vulnerability is shaking up the world of personal and professional business alike, bridging gaps in communication and building stronger relationships than ever. Vulnerability is an art - there's a line between providing value and oversharing that should never be crossed. In practicing the art of vulnerability effectively, you highlight accountability, dependability, and strength. But this isn't a lesson in How to Be Vulnerable- for that, I highly suggest reading one of Brene Brown's many books.
This is not an article about "personal branding" - I'm sure you've had enough of that in 2018 as the buzzword taking the world by storm. As the freelancer industry continues to grow at an exponential rate, it is becoming ever more important to highlight differentiators in a marketplace that is more competitive than ever. But alas, this isn't about creating commodities out of people. This is about embracing change in order to uncover and explore true strengths, hidden under the dust of what we believe we are supposed to say, act, and feel.
What connects people to you, your business, product or service? Well, that you're different, of course.
Whether you are a business trying to attract customers engaged with a competing organization or you're applying for the promotion to the C-level position competing with your colleagues, it's your differences that will make (or break) the decision process.
My tip to win that decision process?
Sound a little soft? That's because it really is that simple. Positioning is the art of identifying where you, your business, product, or service stands in relation to others in the marketplace as well as the mind of the end-user (i.e. consumer, hiring manager, etc.). It's important to get vulnerable at this time. What are your perceived parameters? What do people think are your weaknesses or limitations? Write them down.
What you need to do next is turn those challenges into opportunity.
According to Economic Times,
"A good position in the market also allows a product and its company to ride out bad times more easily. A good position is also one which allows flexibility to the brand or product in extensions, changes, distribution and advertising."
Turning Challenge Into Opportunity
Do you have your list of perceived parameters, weaknesses and limitations? Take that list and sprinkle some magic into it - uncover the hidden beauty of each challenge.
For the differently-abled community, I love addressing chronic illness as a superpower. Here's my example:
Challenge: I only have one eye that can see clearly due to permanent damage from an episode of optic neuritis and will require two monitors for optimal efficiency while I write, edit, and design brand items.
Opportunity: My many months of blindness taught me so much. It taught me to trust my other senses (touch, sound, smell, and taste) and I seldom skip a beat when it comes to error. Experiencing the healing in my good eye has made the world a much more beautiful place. My attention to detail is extraordinary and my positive attitude and determination are indestructible which are leadership qualities that shouldn't go unnoticed.
My client is a very small company and charges up against massive competitors in RFPs. Here's their example:
Challenge: A very small company (a staff of 25 in comparison to 1,000's) that is focused only on offering solutions to enterprises headquartered in the US.
Opportunity: The size of this boutique agency has unlimited potential! The web-based application is built in-house which means they can update and troubleshoot efficiently and effectively as well as administer custom client requests. Also, ALL project managers have been on staff for a decade each (talk about retention!) which promises ultimate customer satisfaction. They won't make you talk to a robot or automated system when you call - not when you're part of the family at this boutique firm.
The Benefits of Adversity
When you're knee-deep in the pits of despair, facing adversity head on sucks. Trust me. I've been there. I've lost my vision, hearing, mobility, and weighed over 225lbs which wrecked havoc on my petite frame. I crawled from room to room trying to prepare a bottle for my baby boy unable to walk in the midst of a relapse from Multiple Sclerosis. I was devastated, depressed, and hopeless. But I chose to fight.
Screw the "support groups" that told me to give up on my job search and apply for Social Security. I'm a fighter.
Screw the applications I submitted, proclaiming "disability" on the Equal Opportunity Employer questionnaires, not getting a single call in return. I'm a fighter.
Screw the negativity and pessimism. I'm a fighter.
When you hit adversity, you can choose to let it consume you and feel sorry for yourself. As mentioned above, "A good position in the market allows a product and its company to ride out bad times more easily."
Many people and companies let the trap of grief eat them alive and never find the strength to fight. But for those of us that do fight, we uncover hidden superpowers. Powers that we had all along, but never needed to use until now.
Powers of positivity, passion, ambition, innovation, and so much more.
The Power of Your Story
Name one other person or business that has the exact same story as yours. You, your business, your product, and/or your service are the only one in the entire universe with your exact make-up of lessons, challenges and energy. That makes the story pretty special. Everyone and everything has a story and that story gains power in highlighting differences.
Diversity is the future of optimal growth and innovation. We'll be seeing successful brands across the globe embrace change to propel innovation.
If you know your brand needs work and don't know where to start, let me help. Finding the magic in opportunity is what I do best as a Brand Sorceress! Cheers to a new year filled with diversity and joy!