No Heart in the Buyer

Why empathy is the most important part of building your brand.

February 24, 2020

I was the best man in my cousin's wedding yesterday. I'd spent weeks trying to write a speech for this occasion, but found myself tearing up when I would start writing introductions. The memories I share with my cousin are that powerful.

Needless to say, the attendees of the wedding felt something when I was speaking with plenty of "awws," laughs, and, of course, tears responding to the speech.

Whatever the audience was feeling, the strange thing was that I felt it too. I was reminded of this quote from Robert Frost, "no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader."

Here's the thing:

When coming up with the personality of your brand, its values, mission, and purpose, YOU need to feel something. If you don't, how do you expect anyone else to?

No heart in the founder, no heart in the buyer.

In a cluttered market where people buy on emotion, it's the safest bet you have against becoming a commodity.

More you say?

Break the Rut-Tine

I'm pretty dedicated to routine, but why let it go the last two weeks of the year?

12.23.2019

Routine is what produces results. Consistent dedication to a series of habits will beat talent any day of the week. Personally, my morning routine consists of the following:

  • 7am wake up (I'm a night owl, not an early bird)
  • Stretch, run, pushups, and squats
  • Journal and Prayer
  • Bible Reading (1 chapter from the OT/NT and one Psalm or Proverb)
  • Write the MF Punch
  • Jam on a personal project for an hour or so

Obviously, I'm not perfect so this routine gets muddied on occasion. But, it serves as a solid compass for letting me know when I've derailed. So why would I completely forego this routine during the last two weeks of the year? Most productivity hacks will tell you that you should always stick to your routine regardless of what day it is.

I'm gonna be honest and say screw that.

Routines are effective during normal times of the year, when I've got client emails to answer, phone calls to make, and, of course, design work that needs to be done. Here's the difference: none of that happens regularly during the week of Christmas or the following week for New Years. Could it happen? Sure. But the truth is that it doesn't.

This presents two opportunities: stick to your routine despite the change in circumstance or let it go for two weeks. Neither option is wrong, they just present two different outcomes and that's where it gets interesting.

When I give myself these two weeks to completely let go of my routine, I give my willpower a rest. Furthermore, with all of the bustle of the holidays and trips to Las Vegas and Mexico on the horizon, those routines quickly find themselves going out the door.

That's not an excuse to let any obstacle get in the way of your routines. There are 50 weeks out of the year where I don't see a valid excuse to let go of routine. But failing to recognize the significance and abnormality of the holiday season is a recipe for self-defeat. Things will happen and routines are good, but they also become a rut. In the spirit of creativity and constantly adapting, ruts must be broken.

Can you think of a better time to break a routine than two weeks filled with festivities, good food, and time with people you care about? Didn't think so.

So what are my plans for the next two weeks? Eat some good food, stay up late watching Star Wars movies, see my grandmother, and think about all of the good things that have happened to me this year. Lastly, think about my routine and what could be improved for 2020 ;)

That being said, it's time to take a break from these as well. Have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Check back in 2020 for the MF Punch.

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Stop Being Professional

How being professional kills your brand.

3.26.2020

Alright, let's make sure we're on the same page, as one of the biggest issues with being professional is lack of concrete definition. You probably think of professional as suit and tie, clean cut, and stoic. But that's bogus. And it is off-base for what the actual definition of professional would entail.

Professional /prəˈfeSH(ə)n(ə)l/:

relating to or connected with a profession.
"young professional people"

engaged in a specified activity as one's main paid occupation rather than as a pastime.
"a professional boxer"

a person engaged or qualified in a profession.
"professionals such as lawyers and surveyors"

Nothing in those definitions implies that one has to give up their personality, character, or style to be a professional. It seems that the only defining characteristic would be the practice of a specific activity that one gets paid for. You could pop pimples for a living and you'd still be considered a professional, so long as you get paid for it. Do you hear that? So long as you do a job and get paid for it, you are a professional. You don't have to wear a suit, you don't have to refrain from saying what you think or using slang, you have to provide something deemed valuable to be a professional.

Why do I want you to stop being "professional?" Because you box yourself in with your definition (the clean cut, suit and tie version). It makes you boring and totally diminishes the elements of your personality that make you special. Granted, this doesn't mean you should stop taking care of yourself or give the impression that you aren't put together, but that's not a hard standard to meet. If you wear a nice, unwrinkled t-shirt with a good pair of jeans, and sneakers, no one is going to think you're a slob. If they do, screw 'em. They are clearly not supposed to do business with you, but instead with someone who takes pride in posturing themselves to look wealthy rather than doing good work.

Stop trying to be professional and instead double down on being yourself, whatever that means. If you like getting dressed up, go for it! But don't let those fancy clothes become a shock collar that stops you from being yourself, telling your jokes, and saying what you feel is right.

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