How have you been stepping back out in the world these last few weeks? A heady mix of hairdressers, pub dates and sitting outside cafés, here. I can’t wait to be inside a pub. Also for summer to arrive.
Finding your voice
Did you catch my Instagram Live with Emma Griffin, anti-hustle copywriter for brands like The White Company and Mint Velvet? We chatted why your brand voice matters, values and guru gas-lighting. Where we get caught up in experts promising 7-figure formulas and mega-launches and forget to tap into what we want for our businesses. It’s juicy. Have a watch.
The DIY algorithm trap
The chat got me thinking about something writer and artist, Austin Kleon, said on how writers get out of the influence of their heroes.
The journey goes: student imitates master, student learns all they can, student moves on to find their own way – often to the next master.
I realised that, as brand builders, founders, marketers, we do the same. We watch someone we respect do something cool, pick up their strategy and kind of make it our own. So we inevitably become patchworks of our influences.
And, because we’re drawn to a certain type of thinking, we inadvertently create personal DIY algorithms. Where we absorb more of the same influences, making our inboxes and social media feeds echo chambers.
What does this do to the quality and texture of our ideas and work?
The big inspiration overload break-up
I’ve been an influence jumper. From Seth Godin to Laura Belgray to oh hey, Austin Kleon again.
I’ve learnt at the feet of marketing masters, hit unsubscribe, moved on. To the next shiny promise and big idea. We all have, as we’ve navigated building our businesses.
I’m not suggesting we don’t pay attention to our favourite thinkers and creators. I’m a big believer in staying wide open to new ideas and inspiration.
But with a filter. And listen to you first.
It’s called growth. (Sidebar: I won’t be breaking up with Elizabeth Gilbert anytime soon).
How to step out from behind your influences
We want to create a business on our own terms, build meaningful brands, and develop a visibility that resonates. So we need discernment over second-hand thinking.
How do you break the habit of absorbed ideas and carve out your own lane? Try this:
Follow what you care about
I once read Romesh Ranganathan (yep – I can connect comedy and thought leadership) attributes his success to talking about what he’s interested in. He knew if he cared about something, other people would too.
It’s a brave leap. To show ourselves through what we believe, our lived experiences. Especially when we’re told to market to avatars and end-users.
Authenticity is rooted in you.
Right now, my writing content out-performs anything I produce. And clients keep asking for more – whitepapers, content strategies, copy writing, PR coaching.
Follow your passion.
Check the data
My friend and previous life collaborator Helen Perry ran a content experiment last week. She tested a Reels (all the hype) against a regular IGTV (her zone of genius). H’s data-crunching showed her IGTV significantly outperformed the Reels. It’s what she loves doing and what she’s built her reputation on.
Do what works for your audience and customer community, not someone else’s.
Get curious. Take notes. Keep getting better. Be more Helen.
Irony note: I got this from Marie Forleo. Still, it’s a game-changing practice/ hack/ gift.
Create first. Consume second.
Before you doom-scroll, rush onto LinkedIn for a hit of comparison-itis or drown in your inbox.
- Morning pages, journaling, intention setting
- Your own content – a team note or social media post
- A kick-ass to-do list
Creating first brings you closer to your thoughts and original ideas, before the noise of the world wins. You connect with what you want to put out in the world.
It’s how you step into your thought leadership.
In the words of one my most-loved poets, Billy Collins, let’s imitate the **** out of ourselves. (maybe I added the **** ;))