by Paresh Shah, an Overdrive contributor and CEO of Glimpulse
Every great company starts off as an expression of its founder’s passions, hobbies or curiosities. Think about Elon Musk. Tesla is partially a self-expression of his love of technology, engineering, possibilities and wonder. His products, brand and service all flow from that.
As an entrepreneur, you have the chance to build a brand as an extension of yourself. This isn’t about vanity or self-centeredness. Rather, investing in authentic self-expression is about discovering your true essence, your unique view of the world and how you can make a difference unlike anyone else.
Put your “What will they think?” mentality, self-doubt and ego aside, and tune into your authentic gifts to make something from nothing — that’s the amazing power of self-expression. And it’s as impactful as any business strategy I’ve seen.
The Unexpected Return on Investment (ROI) of Self-Expression
When you express your truest self to improve your performance, your business will:
• Stand out from the competition. You may be struggling to compete in your market, but remember that no one’s exactly like you. By making your brand a reflection of your true self, you establish a differentiator that no one else can replicate. Set off on a path of innovation and opportunity by following your inner voice instead of trying to keep up with the competition.
• Attract unique, self-expressing talent. When you self-express, the right people will be attracted to your business. You’ll be able to retain them because they’re aligned with who you are.
• Be able to set a premium price point. Customers are willing to pay a premium price for brands and service that flow from authenticity. When you are your true self, you reap the benefits of likeability. And as Rohit Bhargava points out in “Likeonomics,” we’re living in an era where deals are made on golf courses and likeability trumps competence.
I’m currently pursuing some passions I’d previously abandoned because I didn’t believe they fit with my executive title. I was wrong! Now, I play my electric guitar, act sillier with my 7-year-old, surf with my son and teach yoga with my daughter. Believe it or not, our investors and my team tell me that my hobbies are adding value to the company.
Find Your Inner Self
Here are three ways you can invest in authentic self-expression:
1. Align your views. Authentic self-expression requires the alignment of four aspects: your view of yourself, the view of yourself you communicate to others, how others view you, and how you view the world and others. Write a self-assessment of these views. Evaluate whether they’re aligned, and be sincere. Don’t let there be any disparities between who you are and whom the world sees.
2. Identify your passions. Let your business be a pursuit of your own passions. Identify your interests, and ask yourself, “Am I fully cultivating and expressing these facets in my business?” If you aren’t, search for a more powerful experience for you and your customers, and a strong competitive differentiator for your business.
3. Engage outside help. Ask your friends — the brutally honest ones — to help you align your views. Listen carefully and be open to find out where they think you should focus your energy.
Pablo Picasso did it with painting; Eddie Van Halen did it with music; J.K. Rowling did it with writing; Shah Jahan did it with the Taj Mahal; and you can do it with your business. Let your pursuits be an authentic expression of who you are. You’ll be happier and healthier for it, and your business will flourish.
Paresh Shah is an experienced entrepreneur, executive, yogi, life coach, and budding headbanger. He’s the founder and CEO of Glimpulse, the Human Expression Company that creates products to challenge, inspire, and equip people to be happier, healthier, and more giving through authentic expression. Prior to Glimpulse, he co-founded a wireless multimedia company and raised $130 million. He has served as an adjunct professor in strategy and entrepreneurship and earned an MBA from Harvard Business School.