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In Business You Have To Be Your Own Damn Self

Powerful or Playful

I’m obsessed with fierce, powerful creatures these days – bears, dinosaurs, jungle cats, hawks (and I’ve always been a fan of Mr. T). I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about that fiery, untamed energy that I love – that combination of scary and exciting.

I also dig fluffy kittens, little pink donuts with sprinkles, sparkly nail polish, and pretty pastel confetti. Stuff like that just makes my heart happy.

But for me, the real magic lives at the intersection of these things – where powerful meets playful, where fierce and fun converge.

Almost all of my entrepreneurial clients have at one time or another expressed a fear of not being taken seriously if they unleash their playful side in their business. My response to this is always: Dude, I SO hear you!

When I first started career coaching I had a different website and a verrrrry different vibe. I thought that if I didn’t look and sound “professional” (i.e., conservative, corporate) I wouldn’t get any clients. My headshot was a photo of me at a boardroom table, unsmiling and intense (so not me!). I wore a crisp white button-down shirt (I never wear those!) and a plain black blazer. I looked good; I just didn’t look like me. I was all buttoned up (literally, in this case) playing a role that just didn’t fit. It pinched. I couldn’t breathe. And it certainly wasn’t free or fun or playful, which I am.

Today I’m wearing a cute little pair of Audrey Hepburn pants, leopard print ballet flats, a bright yellow top, hot pink nails, a gold charm bracelet with elephants and giraffes on it, and the world’s cutest earrings in the shape of tiny pretzels. Not very conservative. Not very corporate. Fun. Playful. Me.

My website is totally different now, too – bright colours, some sass, the occasional F-bomb, and fun in every corner. Which, I should add, doesn’t mean that it isn’t also very powerful.

Playful or powerful. Fun or fierce. Who’s to say it has to be one or the other? You can be powerful without looking and sounding like you belong on the trading floor. And you can be playful without going full-out Betty Boop. There’s lots of room to make it your own.

I got clients while working under my old brand, but between you and me I didn’t like them very much. I was attracting the wrong people – stuffy formal types – and it was 100% my fault. Six months in I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I scrapped the whole thing and rebuilt everything from the ground up. All that money spent trying to fake it went down the drain. It was an expensive lesson to learn.

So when my clients tell me about being afraid to be themselves in their business, I get it. I get it in my bones. Most people need encouragement to be playful and have a little fun in their work. It’s like they’re waiting for permission. I know I was.

If you have your own business – especially if you have a service-based business where you are the product – you simply must find a way to show people who you really are. You’re multifaceted. Embrace and honour all of the parts of yourself in your business. You need to be whole.

Leverage the hell out of who you actually are. tweet it

That’s how you’ll attract the right people. You can be fierce and fun, powerful and playful, or any other combination of attributes that are really and truly you.

Trust me. I learned it the hard way. You don’t have to.

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