How to be bold in your work
Giving yourself permission to live and work to the fullest capacity
Experiencing a vast array of company cultures, missions, ideologies, and processes is one of the most interesting aspects of my work with Obsessed Academy. Once you believe you’ve seen it all, BAM! You encounter a fresh new perspective held by another forward-thinking startup, poised on changing the world in their own unique way.
Even with widespread differences among companies, one constant remains the same: leaders who attack big goals are continually looking for ways to move boldly in their work. Whether it’s through vigorous leadership, fierce advancement of the organization’s mission, or endless striving to further one’s global impact, this concept of “being bold” is a thread of consistency that’s present in all great organizations.
We’re attracted to people and brands that are authentic and spirited in their personality. Simply put, we remember those who are living lives worth talking about, and in a corporate world, clients and colleagues want to engage with the company doing big things that boldly impact the world in a positive way.
This week, I encourage you to take charge. While you might be moving big in a small niche, I suggest two key areas you can refine to ensure that you’re being BOLD in your work.
1. Boldly communicate
One of the biggest reasons people choose not to move boldly is that they are fearful of how that boldness will be perceived. “I don’t want people to think I’m arrogant!” I hear, and they use that excuse to live washed-out, lesser lives than they could have lived, thereby quashing or ignoring their unique, innate gifts.
Here’s the thing: you’re never going to get everyone to like you. So stop trying to justify your actions to those who don’t care. Tim Grover, author of the book Relentless, explains how one of the worst things you can do as a public figure is to go back and apologize for sticking to what you believe in. Now, you might think, “but Evan, I’m not a celebrity or athlete; how does this concept apply to me?” And while it’s true that only a small percentage of society will ever reach celebrity status, you are already a leader simply by working in a company, or having a family—If people look up to you for anything, you’re in a position of leadership.
Clear and consistent communication is one of the most important places to begin. It’s not uncommon for people to misinterpret your intentions or message when you don’t paint a full picture of what you’re trying to describe. If you don’t believe me, try replying just “OK” when your significant other texts you something you’re “okay” with. You might be okay with what they said, but we can both agree that you and your significant other may likely have a later conversation about what you meant with a single “OK” as a reply.
In nearly every piece of content we’ve produced at Obsessed Academy, I’ve touched on core values or core accountability, and I’m referencing those again: one of the first and best places to start communicating your intentions as an organization is through your core values, core accountability, and mission statement. Every action you take, and every statement you make, should reflect those values and mission, so that your community never has fuel for second-guessing your intentions.
Here’s your litmus test; do your actions, products, and services clearly reflect your company’s core values and mission statement? If the answer is anything other than a resounding “YES!” then you need to revisit your operating procedures and guidelines, and work to build a narrative around what makes you unique.
In a more simple way, practice never explaining what you do without also explaining why you do it. One of the best ways to reinforce your bold communication is to always clearly define the reasons behind your statement. “We’re going to do this” is not nearly as effective as “Our mission is [X] and in order to advance that mission, we’re going to do [this].” Start there, and see how quickly your communication will shift from unclear expectations to bold strides towards your collective organizational goal.
2. Boldly market
Boldness isn’t just about courageously advocating your company’s core values and products. Rather, boldness also includes a laser focus on properly marketing these features. In your marketing, make sure you’re not just plastering billboards across your city with “buy our product” and a colorful picture of your latest line. If you want to attract advocate-level customers instead of lukewarm buyers, start taking stances and building narratives around your product or service.
Are you in bulk food sales? No longer are you just selling high-quality food to your local business and home community. Instead, you’re actually selling certainty and security in a time of uncertainty and insecurity. It just so happens that “certainty” and “security” look a lot like repeat purchases from your food company!
Perhaps you’re in insurance? No longer are you merely selling auto, life, or home policies. Rather, you’re now sharing your belief that everyone deserves to feel confident, supported, and cared for in the most vulnerable times of need, and your belief is manifested through your work as an insurance provider.
People have a natural desire to gravitate toward those with similar beliefs and values, and sometimes to be a bit apprehensive about those with different beliefs and values. The problem in the professional world is that too many people have a deep-seated fear of going public with their core values or of boldly expressing their corporate mission. But when you begin to take stances, two huge things happen: true, you will be disliked, but you’ll also be loved. You’ll receive pushback from those who disagree with your stance, but you’ll also discover advocates in those who believe what you believe, or even in those who disagree with your position but admire your rationale for taking it–and both types of advocates will want to engage more deeply with your product or service.
The interesting thing about 2020 is that businesses worldwide have had ample opportunity to take stances on highly politically charged issues. It’s a daily occurrence to read a publication, or click on an article, and find companies standing for or against a dizzying variety of topics, especially when those topics are linked to the companies’ values.
This might sound a bit crazy to those afraid to make moves—and genius to those who already have done so—but start taking a stand for something. Some people will hate you for it . . . so what? Other people will love you for it . . . again, so what? People will hate you, love you, or be indifferent to you anyway; you might as well have the bold leadership to accurately represent and market carefully defined core values, so that you can live and work effectively, irrespective of people’s reactions. So when you take a stand in your marketing and represent your beliefs through your brand’s communication, your community begins having something engaging to talk about. As I state in the “bulletproof databases” course in OA, you need to commit to attracting those who want what you have to offer . . . that begins with being clear in your marketing in the first place.
And remember that it’s important not to take any action just for the sake of getting a reaction; that’s the opposite of acting according to your core values.. This week, just focus on developing your message, beliefs, values, and distribution system (your marketing) for these ideals. I’m confident you’ll find—as many companies already have—how important it is to begin moving with more clarity, confidence, and conviction to further your corporate mission.