Listen to the audio version of this post here.
Maybe you’ve had a crisis of confidence?
It happened to me last week, listening to a webinar about connecting with the right clients so we can sell more. The speaker was loud, animated, and intense … it felt like she was shouting at me through the Zoom screen.
She was also dismissive of those who are not loud, animated, and intense. She made it clear she’s bored by people who talk more slowly, pause more often, and use a conversational tone. People like me, for instance.
The more I listened, the more I questioned myself. There’s this successful young woman promoting “high-energy” speaking, with adoring comments in the Chat supporting her point of view.
Here’s me, wondering if maybe I’m not enough of a performer.
The comparison led to self-doubt and even self-criticism. And I’ll just tell you, I critique my clients gently, offering feedback that’s candid but not cutting. When I turn my lens on myself? That can be a whole different story. I was getting a little harsh in my assessment of my own work.
Wait just a minute.
On the subject of clients, I thought, what do I tell them over and over and over? You’ve probably heard this from me often enough that you can say it with me!
“What your audience wants most from you is you.”
They’re not looking for schtick or an act. They’re probably interested in what you have to say, the substance of your presentation or meeting. But even that falls flat if they don’t also get what’s most important to them. You. The real you.
And so, I thought, if that’s true for my clients (and there’s loads of evidence it is) it’s obviously true for me too.
If someone wants a speaker or a coach who’s loud and intense and putting on a big performance, they don’t want me. And … somebody else does. If they’re looking for a more natural, conversational approach, I’m a perfect fit.
This is the value of knowing who we are, how we do, and how others see us.
No matter what we do for a living, that deep understanding of ourselves and how people perceive us helps us sort out who’s right for us, and who’s a better fit for somebody else. And that sorting sets us up to attract the clients we can best support.
That’s the whole point of the Fascination Advantage System®. You might remember I’ve been certified in this approach developed by marketing expert Sally Hogshead.
The big idea is this. It’s a fool’s errand to do what I was doing – comparing myself to somebody else and counting the ways I came up short. It wouldn’t even be useful to enumerate the ways I’m superior to someone else.
Bottom line: it’s better to be different than better. Embracing our difference helps us stand out and succeed in a world where nobody’s paying much attention for more than a minute.
We face three big challenges.
Distraction makes it hard to connect with people who might desperately need what we have to offer. They’re busy with meetings and emails and tweets and retweets; it’s easy for them to overlook us.
Competition makes it tough to stand out enough to get our message across; we get lost in the shuffle of other people who offer services or products akin to ours.
Commoditization means people think we’re interchangeable with others who do similar work. If one therapist or writer or accountant can be exchanged for another, why would someone choose us? And then, why would they stay with us?
Maybe you’re thinking you can beat back those three forces by being better than everyone else? Good luck with that.
What will help you vanquish distraction, competition, and commoditization is being different from everyone else.
And the good news is, you already are different.
Now, go out and highlight that difference every time you talk about your work. And get right to the point about your value. When you communicate clearly and deliberately, engaging your listener from the beginning, you cut through the distractions.
Focus on who you are rather than what you do and don’t try to be like anyone else in your field. You go right ahead and be different (did I mention that it’s better than better?)
Infuse every interaction, every communication, with your particular Advantages. They separate you from people with similar titles or functions or businesses and they keep you from becoming a commodity.
The truth is, your personality is the antidote to distraction, competition, and commoditization. All you need to do is learn how to make the best use of it. And I can help you with that.
I talked myself off the ledge.
Okay, so I’m different from the webinar speaker. Truth be told, I’m different from a lot of professional speakers. That’s been clear as I listen to the webinars our association offers.
Those high-energy speakers have an obvious advantage in connecting with an audience and getting their point across. But then, I have an obvious advantage too.
And so do you.
What sets you apart from your competition? I’m eager to read your comment here.
I lead when it comes to providing that “human touch” so to speak. A genuine caring person, sharing positive, real stories of success that people have had, as a way to inspire us, continuing to stay motivated rather than giving up are key things. Also with so much bad news around on the news, instead, we as people need to focus on positives, and this is another way I set myself apart from the competition.
Setting ourselves apart is so important, Cindy. And yet I know I’m not alone in entertaining at least the fleeting thought that I should be more like that other one who’s clearly successful. I’m going to look at the image on this article again and again as a reminder to myself.
I too am not a fan of a very high energy, slick speaker who delivers a totally canned, obviously orchestrated presentation. I am more receptive to someone who is genuine and knowledgeable with a touch of gentle humor (which you do so well and I strive to do) A favorite quote about comparison – “Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Thanks, Paula. I like to think I am good at what I do. I just have to remind myself once in a while that what I do is still valuable for some people. Your thief-of-joy quote is such a good one. Teddy Roosevelt had it down, didn’t he?
I fully agree. I do a lot of employment interviewing. It’s refreshing to speak to someone who knows what their gifts are and can communicate them well. Maybe they won’t fit my opportunity, but they will have a big advantage when connecting with someone whose needs match their skills.
It’s easy to feel pressured, in a job interview, to try to seem good at everything. I can’t imagine that interviewers are fooled by that, Bob. Seems smarter to highlight what we’re really best at. And as you say, if it’s not the perfect fit, we’ll land someplace else where we’re a better match.
The thing that sets me apart from my competition is me. I care and I am honest. I am not interested in closing EVERY deal. I am interested in closing the right deals. Relationships with those business owners who I believe we can help in a manner that will make them genuinely happy with their business decision to hire Solus to review their IT. Honesty is the key to that plan. Know when to walk away. I hope that any of our clients would be more than willing to spread the word about how well I/We did for their issues. That is when we have success.
Thanks for teaching me how to express those things, Catherine. I do so appreciate your expertise. Always on point!
It absolutely IS you that sets you apart from other IT companies, Donna.
When we close the right deals, working with our clients is a joy. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve closed a WRONG deal in my day … and I’ve been sorry for it later when doing the actual work was a slog.
Great read, Catherine. And spot-on, in my opinion.
I think one of the reasons why you had so much success as a woman in radio is your authenticity. It came through, whether you were being politely irreverent or eloquently serious. It didn’t ever sound fake or forced, and clearly your audience appreciated and valued that.
I have to believe that that same authenticity is even more important in the work you do today. I would have a hard time putting my confidence in a Coach that appeared to be “selling” rather than “sharing.”
As a side note, I think that women in our culture are, sadly, conditioned to compare themselves to other women, and that it starts at a very young age. But whether it’s professionally or personally, I believe that ultimately, it’s self-defeating.
You may be right about women being particularly prone to this kind of comparison, Leni. I suspect plenty of men also look at some other guy’s awards or income or sales results and wonder whether they measure up.
Thanks for your encouragement! In the end, all any of us can do is show up and be who we really are.