Welcome to my second blog. I want to be sure that in each blog I create, I share some insight that I have uncovered that has taken me down this journey of becoming an entrepreneur. At Content Redefined, one of the things that we promote as our core competitive advantage is the idea of Relationship or Connection Marketing. That means, we really help our clients create a strategy that connects with their audiences. This is true for us as Entrepreneurs as well. If we want to be a success, we need to connect with our audiences. What I have learned or recognized over the last few months is that part of that connection journey for me started with me asking myself a fundamental question. Who in Business do I look up to and why do I look up to them?
In my business journey, I have respected many people, but one in particular that always stands out to me was my Executive Vice President from my Marketing job at American Express. Her name was Devika and there was something about her that inspired the heck out of me. First off, she was 30 something years old and running an entire Marketing division for a multimillion-dollar company. How does someone that young create an empire for herself? Devika, was always talking to someone. There were always people in her office laughing or getting personal or business advice but one thing about her that I remember clear as day is that she always listened. No idea was impossible to execute. She would let her team try any marketing scheme we came up with (within reason) and as long as we had a good business case around why and how we wanted to execute our ideas, she encouraged us “take the risk and measure the result whether it be positive or negative. After all, we will learn something from it” is what she often said. In meetings, Devika was a champion. She would answer any question that anyone asked her or directed to marketing with poise, enthusiasm, drive, and passion. She was truly an example.
One day, I approached Devika and I simply asked her “Can you tell me your true secret to being such a success”. Her answer astounded me. She said, my motto is “Fake It, Until You Make It”. I almost fell out of my chair. She began to explain to me that she never got a B.A degree, she only had an Associate’s Degree but her secret that she learned early on was that while business knowledge, education and strategic thinking are all great and very important, we will never have all the answers. Our success lies in our ability to always exude confidence, build connection, and take risks. She taught me that as a Leader, you need to always believe in yourself, your ideas, and your team. Trust the intuition that led you to hire certain people on your team and trust the passion you have for the risks you want to take. We never know all the answers, so we need to sometimes fake it, in other words believe in the idea and take the risk but always try to find the lesson in the learnings. She also shared that she didn’t always have the stamina to connect with her staff, business leaders, partners, and vendors but what she realized early on was that connection is not always about talking. It’s mostly about listening and relating. So even when we don’t the stamina to speak, we can always just listen. It doesn’t take a ton of effort to do that and people actually appreciate when we show a sense of attentiveness and reaction to their thoughts or expressions.
So, the lesson for the day is Fake it, until you make it. As Entrepreneurs, what this figuratively means is so important. While people expect that we, as creators of our products, services or brands are expected to have all the answers, especially for our consumers, No one ever does. So, it’s important that we always speak with confidence, define a position, and align ourselves to that position. It also means that we are prepared to learn from our mistakes and acknowledge if our position “has changed” due to testing and research. We need to Connect with others and spend more time listening to our audiences, rather than talking at them. This is true even when we don’t have the stamina to do it. Remember, you have what it takes to be successful right inside of you, you just need to grab a hold of it and don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. “Making it” actually means you have arrived at a level of success but remember that as you learn and grow, so will that level of success. Explore all your ideas but be open to learn from them. All of this is part of your ultimate success.
So, when that day comes and someone says, “How have you become such a success”, its ok to tell them you learned how to fake it until you made it. If they fall out of their chair, help them back up with confidence and give them the roadmap to taking risks, exuding confidence and being a great connector with those they encounter. As funny as it sounds, it can be a recipe for long term success.