We are all born different. Each of us has a unique mix of attributes that makes us who we are. Some of those attributes are advantages, and some of those are disadvantages. Some we can work on, others are hopeless. I don’t have the engineering prowess to become a rocket scientist. I don’t have the physique to become an olympic athlete. I don’t have the voice to become a rock star… and that is ok. I do have the attributes to become many other things and I leverage them to maximize my success.
Over my years in business I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet many successful people. The one thing that they all have in common is that they know themselves. They know their individual talents and areas of opportunity. They focus their efforts on their strengths and acknowledge their weaknesses. They understand how their personal gifts can best be utilized and surround themselves with others who excel in the areas wherein they are deficient.
I’m No Bean Counter
When I first started down the path of raising money for IZEA I made a mistake. I thought that in order to raise money from Wall Street I had to be like many of the people on Wall Street. I put on my suit, polished my shoes and proceeded to give boring, data-centric presentations. I was deadly serious because I wanted to be taken seriously. I kept to my script because I didn’t want people to feel like I didn’t have the answers to everything.
It felt unnatural to me. I felt like I wasn’t playing off my strengths. It was like getting on stage and singing to a crowd of Grammy winning recording artists. It was the worst possible thing I could have done. They knew I wasn’t me… and so did I.
The best advice I got during my initial fundraising process was to “take advantage of your strengths and be yourself”. My advisors helped me realize that I didn’t need to be a bean counter to be successful in fund raising. “Let your CFO be the CFO. She can deal with the deep dive into numbers. You be the visionary. That is what you are best at.”
I ditched the suit for jeans and cowboy boots, put on my smile and haven’t looked back since.
What Are Your Gifts?
It is easy to look past the gifts we have been blessed with because they are naturally a part of us. Sometimes we even hide these gifts because we think our audience wants something else. Your areas of intellectual acuity, your artistic abilities, your personality, sense of humor and even your looks can all be used to your advantage. Don’t let these things go to waste, and don’t downplay them because they are innate to you.
Take every advantage of them, they are your competitive edge.