We all want to put our best foot forward. So much so that sometimes we put more of an emphasis on creating an image of ourselves than being ourselves. We all want to be perceived as intelligent, invincible, and insightful, especially to those whom we’ve just met or would like to meet. This is of the utmost importance as an entrepreneur trying to build a brand.
Winning first the hearts and then the minds of others is most likely to occur by being genuine, humble, playful and even vulnerable. I was reminded of this recently when a totally honest response to an interview question resulted in a huge unexpected bonus. Allow me to share the story.
Those who know me well will attest to my deep desire to be unique. I always try to distinguish myself from the crowd, from the clothes I wear to my “challenge the status quo” mentality. I am my own brand, and am always aware of what I’m representing. A couple of months ago I was invited to be a guest on a nationally syndicated radio program. I was informed that there would be ten rapid-fire questions asked of me at the end of my guest appearance. This would be my best chance to distinguish myself and make an impression on the listeners. It would be both fun, but risky. As it turned out, one of my answers was so unexpected by the host and according to him so unusual, and so genuine that it opened doors that otherwise would have remained closed.
The question asked of me was this: If you could be any super hero, which one would you be? I went through the list of predictable characters in my mind…Superman, Batman, and so on. But then I thought, “That’s where most people would go!” And like I mentioned earlier, I don’t like to be like everyone else. I also knew that my choice could be an opportunity to touch people’s hearts about something that matters to me. So, instead of answering with any of those typical heroes, my answer was Clarence, the angel in the movie, It’s A Wonderful Life. Clever? Perhaps. True to self? Absolutely! Vulnerable? You betcha!
The reason that I identified Clarence as the super hero I wanted most to be like was that he helped George Bailey see his value and the impact he made on all those around him. It wasn’t about my wanting to “pretend” I could leap-tall-buildings-in-a-single-bound or fight crime and injustice. Instead, I identified with a character who had the capability of genuinely touching other people’s hearts, encouraging them to see their own value, and understanding how others see them, too. It was an opportunity to reveal who I am and where my heart is. Plus, it also enabled me to display some of my own playfulness and lightheartedness. It was a small risk to pick an angel wanting to earn his wings by helping someone else as opposed to the predictable selections of the action-figure crowd. But risk-taking can both move us forward and set us apart, and in this case it paid off. What I wasn’t prepared for, though, was the response I got from the host of the radio program. If anything, I assumed that he’d be surprised by my answer and nothing more would come of it. Was I ever wrong!
Keep in mind, I wasn’t trying to be clever as much as I was wanting to be who I am and go with my gut, and if it was viewed positively and maybe even humorously then so much the better. But his response went even further than I could have imagined. He asked me at the end of the session to stay on the line. Then he asked if I ever got out to his city. I responded, “on occasion, but nothing planned presently.”
That’s when the host said to me “I’d like to comment on your answer to the super hero question, which was most unusual. When you said Clarence from It’s A Wonderful Life, if you had been here in the studio with us you’d have seen that you brought tears to our eyes and touched our hearts.” This gentleman is the head of an extremely tight-knit organization of nearly a thousand paying members. He invited me as his guest to speak to that audience, which also allowed by association exposure to my company’s product Vipor Plus. I said yes, of course, and not long after, I was able to make a presentation to their group. The reception I received from the individuals exceeded my expectations! I made priceless connections and am still seeing new opportunities from many of the members and influencers within their organization.
The next time you have the opportunity to put yourself out there and make a genuine connection, whether it’s in an interview or an everyday introduction, be the best version of yourself, but most importantly be your real self. You never know what doors it may open! Answering the interview question with Batman, Superman, or Deadpool might have gotten a laugh, but going with my gut and choosing an angel helping others in order to earn his wings got me a whole lot more than a laugh. I earned his trust and with it access to his inner circle! Now that is what I call real results.