“Kate Bosworth I Ain’t”
That’s the title of my first blog post about learning to surf. Because, as I said in the post, “Up until today, everything I ever knew about surfing, I learned from watching the movie Blue Crush.”
Turns out, a lot of people enjoyed reading about someone learning something new while making fun of themself and being completely delighted at the same time.
“My name is Katie and I’m a fat paddleboarder.”
That’s the first line of my first blog post about being a paddleboarder.
Here’s a visual:
Can you guess which one is me?
Those first words, “My name is Katie and I’m a fat paddleboarder” grew into a column called “View from the Back” that I wrote from 2012-2015. It grew because other people read “My name is Katie and I’m a fat paddlboarder” and they saw themselves.
We are the Champions
On Monday Mallary implemented the final step of a several months long project of moving all of our time tracking at The Garden of Words to T-Sheets and our payroll to direct deposit through Quickbooks. “We moved a mountain, Katie!” she said when I talked to her that evening. (Mallary moved a mountain. I just gave her a credit card to pay for T-sheets.)
Tuesday morning I had a call with my business coach and she said, if you’re going to celebrate Mallary by showing up in your essence*, what would you do?”
“I would make sure that when she joins our morning check in meeting I would have Queen’s ‘We are the Champions’ blasting at full volume on my computer.”
*Essence is how my coach describes acting as my authentic self in a way that brings me great peace and joy.
New Year New Hogwash
It’s January, which means we’re bombarded with a whole bunch of “new year new you” messaging.
That is, as you have probably figured out, coming from people who want to sell you things. It’s called marketing, and traditionally that’s been the aim of marketing.
Traditional Marketing = Make people feel like they aren’t good/ don’t have enough so they buy stuff to feel better.
In some contexts that type of marketing will continue to work because it’s based on fundamentals of human behavior and psychology. We respond to FOMO (Fear of missing out). We respond to deadlines.
The tide is shifting though, and if you recognize that and react, you can ride it to grow your business without running yourself into the ground.
Exhibit A: “CDC Recommends” memes
When the CDC shortened the quarantine requirement from 10 days to 5 days for COVID exposures* the people of the internet had things to say.
*I am not an authorized source of COVID information. I am an authorized source of memes.
This one, though, this one really hits on the general sentiment that started the memes. Memes, which, could be said, grew exponentially, not unlike reported COVID case numbers:
Halving the quarantine time in the middle of a surge when the news is screaming about possible involuntary shutdowns not due to government interventions, but due to people being out sick (for reals) and/or following CDC guidelines? Doing this without really explaining the science behind the decision in a time when nobody trusts anyone about anything?
were not buying it.
“Bring your [ ] to work” Day
What can you bring to work besides COVID?
Besides New Year’s resolutions;
Instead of “new year new me”;
In place of what your mom wanted you to be;
To resist what “they” think you should bring;
Beyond what’s expected.
You can bring yourself.
I’m missing two winter trade shows I had planned to attend due to worrying about the aforementioned shutdown. I’m a little worried about getting COVID, but I’m more worried about getting stuck in an airport somewhere do to everyone else getting COVID.
So when I say, “Bring yourself,” I am fully aware that yourself is probably feeling exhausted, at its wit’s end, scared, beaten down, possibly short on money, and maybe a little bit resigned.
Those are your feelings, though. They aren’t you.
*I’m* Feeling ’22
(I CAN’T HELP IT! ITS THE FIRST WEEK OF THE NEW YEAR. I HAVE TO WORK THAT SONG LYRIC INTO EVERYTHING I DO.)
I’m also feeling ’12, ’10, ’89, ’97 because what I discovered in 2021, by examining what seemed to make our clients happen, the GOW team happy, and me happy and then reflecting on things I’ve done that made me happy and impacted others positively throughout my life is that a big part of what makes me, me, is showing up as myself in a pretty vulnerable way, being really silly and having a lot of laughs, all while being deadly serious about producing good work.
Last year while being silly and deadly focused I grew the part of a client’s revenue I’m responsible for by 30%. For every dollar they spent on me, I made them $14. Now the straight ROI was not 14:1 because there were other expenses beyond me. ROI for what I managed was probably closer to about 8:1. A marketing ROI of 5:1 is average.
I also lost opportunities because “silly” isn’t a good fit for some company cultures and that’s ok because I want to show up as ME, not as an imposter, because as ME I can produce the best results.
“Don’t Take it Personally”
Before we get to what makes you, you, I want to cover something important about bringing yourself to work. Fortunately, Amanda Thomsen does this wonderfully usefully in her January 2022 Green Profit column titled “Don’t Take it Personally.”
Here’s how she opens:
“To some, this month’s column may feel like a personal attack, so I’m going to try and ease in slowly and mostly ridicule myself. When this bit of wisdom dropped into my consciousness I can tell you it felt pretty brutal (as the truth often does), but also like Dorothy realizing she had the power to go back home all along. It’s a life-changing gem and I hope you’re ready for it:
“What you do does not have to be your personality. . . .
“You’re not a garden center owner, manager or employee. You’re a person that owns, manages or works at a garden center. You’re so much more than just what you do.”
There is a difference between bringing yourself to work and being your work.
In the column she details how while she worked at a farm she became a farmer. It was her identity. That made everything that happened at work an identity crises.
Let me put my hand up to say “I HAVE BEEN THERE.” That is literally what happened to me with the paddleboarding column and website to the point where when I made the decision to stop writing the column and working for the site I called my therapist crying and he thought, because of how upset I was, that I was calling to tell him I was getting a divorce. That’s how much of my identity being a fat paddleboarder was.
I want you to read Amanda’s article. I’m linking it below.
You can bring yourself to work without being your work
And, in fact, to steal a meme that is hopefully starting to jump from tumblr to the mainstream, “In this economy” you have to bring yourself to work.
Because your customers aren’t going to keep responding to you telling them what they need to be.
They’re going to respond to you showing them who you are.
That is how the clients and customers that will keep coming back over and over are going to decide to do business with you.
Will you fight the tide or ride it?
I almost forgot! My Green Profit article about how to hire and manage a web developer or a tech professional when you don’t know anything about tech. (Or how to hire and manage someone to do anything you don’t know anything about.)
Your Business as a Community Hub
I’m speaking on the very topic of this newsletter at the Global Garden Retail Conference in February. It is free to attend (virtually), so sign up.
Not sure how to bring yourself to work?
You’re going to want to sign up for the AmericanHort Marketing Mastery Series featuring Katie Dubow, Ryan McEnaney-Rodriguez, and me. The first class is next week, and Katie is says, “When it comes to effectively reaching your consumer, you need to be able to communicate with them on as personal a level as possible. In this dynamic session, you will learn the process for crafting the perfect marketing message to help you resonate with your audience most effectively.”
OMG, right? It’s EXACTLY what you need right now!
It would give me an instant pick me up if you would write back to me and tell me your favorite thing about yourself that you bring to work.
Cheers to you!