Part Five: Stay True
"To me, business isn't about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It's about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials."Richard Branson
Part five of Exploring the Intersection of Endurance and Creativity.
Try to please everyone and you'll please no one.
At the beginning of any endeavor, it's hard to find your voice or particular style. I always use the large end of the funnel analogy. This is the land of infinite possibility and world-changing ideas. It is also a sticking point that most people never pass because they flit from idea to idea never knowing who they truly are. To get past this point, you must have do all the things I've mentioned previously. Now that you have gained a following or a clientele, you have to keep it.
The easiest way to destroy this is by going off and doing something radically different. It may gain you more followers, but it will lead to fair-weather patrons who'll come and go. The real damage you'll have done is alienating the people who got you where you are in the first place. You need to be the destination, not the roadside attraction.
There's a really well-known Christian author that I have been a huge fan of for many years. His blog was a go-to for deep thought and interaction. The busy comments section of his blog reflected the community he built. He did this by crafting great stories and changing lives with his original writing style. Then he tried his hand at other things--good, beneficial things, no doubt, but he lost me. He lost many others too. He strayed away from what he truly did great and ended up releasing rushed books, lifeless blogs, and now is a kind of jack-of-all-trades whose products I'll most likely never buy again.
Here's the same principal but in a different context.
As I mentioned in part 3, back in 2003 I was working in London's booming gastro-pub industry. The place where I worked as an assistant manager was an independent pub called The Stonemasons Arms. This place was the bomb! No joke, lunch services were hopping and in the evening there were queues for tables. We were doing something different than everyone else by being ourselves. While most places were all about generic background music, staff uniforms—and conformity, bland food and drinks, and impersonal service, we were the opposite. We had personality in every department. We went the extra mile and gave people an experience.
After two years there, the owners sold it to a well-known London brewery. In the beginning there were no real changes apart from back office administrative affairs. The place ran well and made money. Their question was, “How can we make more?” That's when it started to fall apart. Our place of identity and belonging went from being a destination pub to just another faceless money-making machine. You know what happened? The patrons who made it the lively haven it was, left in droves.
When you are true to what you do, you will not only reap the rewards of personal satisfaction, but you'll get to share it with some pretty darn special people along the way.
Tomorrow in the sixth and final part of the series: Surround Yourself with Passionate People.