Throwing the switch to vaudeville
A lesson from getting personal
My last newsletter was rather personal. I was a bit nervous sending it out as one of my newsletters… after all, I’m a business coach, not a life coach, and besides, when I sat down to write the article I had an entirely different article in mind, something about small business support programs in Holland. But when I sat down to write it, an article about death and change and fear and sadness and frustration came out instead.
Well I sent it and it has been an amazing experience. Where normally I might get one or two comments from people, this time I had a flood of comments, emails and phone calls. Two weeks after publishing it I’m still getting the occasional comment. People coming up to me across a crowded room, just to give me some feedback, and often to thank me for writing it.
It’s been simply heart-warming.
Initially I decided not to put it on my blog because it felt strange to do so, but I’ve put it up there now, so if you haven’t seen it or you’d like to forward it to someone, you can do so from here: https://www.newperspectives.com.au/archives/death/
To everyone who went to the trouble of thanking me and letting me know how much they appreciated the article, thank you. I can’t tell you what a lovely feeling it has been to get such a flood encouragement.
Lessons for a business coach
But I’m still a business coach, so although there are some very clear lessons for my future writing (more about that later), I think it is worth reflecting on some business lessons from the experience.
The lesson I took is this:
We are all hungry for personal connection. As I’ve said before and many before me, the Golden Rule of Business is this: People want to do business with people they know like and trust.
That means that even though I am a business coach and can write all kinds of really clever things about business, people want to get to Know me, Like me and Trust me first and foremost.
Plenty of information available already
And it makes sense. If you want to know something about business, it’s not hard to look it up. The bookshops are full of books about business. Search for the word business in Amazon and just see how many titles come back; Also, there are millions and, millions of videos about business on Youtube and more business blogs than you could ever read in a life time. Nobody’s actually waiting for my cleverness about business.
And what’s more, I’ve already written some very clever books (!) about business (and if you’d like them in E-book or Audio book form, you can download them for free via my download page here: http://thetentruths.com). There is actually less and less of a point to keep adding to the mountains of business information that all of us are bombarded with and have at our finger tips.
The same can be said for many fields of interest I think. Unless we truly have something new and different to say, we should ask ourselves if we are actually doing the world a favour by pouring out our words of wisdom that mostly repeat what many others (think Micheal Gerber, Seth Godin, Peter Drucker, Jim Collins) have said before us, in slightly different form.
Personal stories are different
But personal stuff… now that’s different. I think the people who enjoyed my article about Death and tough questions had generally two reactions:
- They might have said something like: “I’m so glad to hear that others have these experiences and these fears and these frustrations… I’m not alone.”
- Or they might have said to themselves: “That’s nice, that shows me a side of Roland I hadn’t seen before, and I feel I can relate to him a bit better now.”
Both reactions are lovely of course. (By the way, there were obviously also some people who didn’t enjoy the article, I had a few ‘unsubscribes’, but that’s fine, people who didn’t enjoy what I wrote are probably people I shouldn’t be talking to anyway.) And if the purpose of my newsletter (and most business newsletters) is to engage with people over a time frame so that those people get to “Know, Like and Trust” me, I couldn’t ask for a more positive outcome.
I’m reminded of former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating’s remark when asked how he might make himself electable after his years as Bob Hawke’s very serious treasurer: “Oh don’t worry, I can flick the switch to Vaudeville when I have to” was his quip (I do miss Paul Keating, love him or hate him, there was a lot more fun in politics in those days it seems to me).
And so will I, well maybe not quite Vaudeville, but it’s clearly time to share more of my personal journeys with my readership.
It means allowing more of my vulnerabilities and foibles to be on display a bit more and that’s not a bad thing I think. Please do give me your feedback from time to time, positive and negative, I promise I won’t crumple.
What about you?
So let me ask you: Are you at risk of trying to convince your audience how brilliant you are before you’ve allowed them to get to Know, Like and Trust you?
How can you share more of your personal story with your audience?
Thanks for listening,
PS: My mother seems to have perked up a bit again in the last two weeks, maybe Death wasn’t actually in the room after all and it was just my fears coming through.
PPS: I didn’t get a business class upgrade from Singapore Airlines and worse than that they made me miss my connection in Singapore, so I’m not sure what the message in that is.