“You really look like you have it all together,” said a woman entrepreneur as she checked out my sponsor booth. I was bummed.
In my early life in corporate I worked countless late nights to make sure I had it all together, my presentations edited just so. I never shed a tear or showed an emotion that wasn’t appropriate, and I gave people what they needed to see to think I was amazing.
Not that it didn’t fall apart from time to time, but I was striving to be one of those people who had it all together.
Above All, Let Me Be Real
Today my goal is to be real, truthful, raw, honest, and highly successful. I completely believe we can be ourselves and make money. Not the polished version of ourselves with the real, good stuff hidden from view, but just us, however we really are, ‘warts and all,’ as they say.
Being in alignment means that the things you do all make sense because they are a reflection of who you are, and everything vibes together. That’s different than looking perfectly put together.
Interview Gone Boring
Awhile back I interviewed someone to share them with my list. I’m usually meticulous about who I share with my list, ensuring that who they are is a great fit or compliment to the point of view you rely on me for. In one case I chose someone because they seemed popular and I didn’t take time to suss them out.
The person sent me a list of questions to ask them, which is customary and helpful for busy people doing interviews. However, I like to talk truth and make interviews interesting and real. I asked several off-script questions during the interview, and the interviewee expertly weaved the conversation back to script without missing a beat. No behind the scenes stories, no vulnerability. Every response carefully put my guest in the light of someone who mastered all problems with ease and grace.
Now, you don’t want to be in breakdown as you share your stories. But you want to share them. No one avoids breakdown. No one. And I, personally, don’t want to work with people who pretend they have.
I was out with a friend the night before writing this article, and we were talking about this topic. She’d been telling about an art exhibit, “The Museum of Broken Relationships,” and she tied it to the point beautifully.
The exhibit was representing those items that are left behind at the end of a relationship – things that you don’t feel right giving away and can’t sell, yet really have no business keeping.
The bulk of the displays are things like old love letters, t-shirts, “the skis I wore when I broke my leg trying to impress her.” My friend herself contributed a stuffed animal her ex brought home from a business trip.
Then she described the displays that were “overarticized.” The actual items were encapsulated in artistic paper-mache frames and collaged into polished works of art.
She described how those pieces left her feeling disconnected, almost cheated of the real story and real emotion of how that break-up went down. She went on to describe how we view raw food as good these days, yet rawness in people we still somehow want to cover up.
I don’t want to sound as if there is no value in crafting a strategy and being intentional about how you present yourself to the world. It’s important. My interviewee makes lots of money by keeping to the script. There is clearly an audience that wants that. But it left me feeling cheated of the good stuff I know was a part of that journey that I could really learn from. How-tos are a dime a dozen. The nuances of how someone did what they did create real learning. And it’s often the stuff we wouldn’t think to share in our polished pitch that is the stuff that forges real connection with clients.
There’s no right and wrong approach here, it’s about what level of polish is in alignment for you. I, personally, leave my ponderings saying, “Lord, let me never be that good.”