It seems like these days, everyone wants to be Oprah or Dr. Phil. Every day on Twitter, I see literally hundreds of people sending out inspirational or motivational quotes out to the world. The preference is for people to tweet out happy and brave things. Sound byte sort of things. This is an odd juxtaposition to commercials that are on the television every day (you remember commercials, right? Those things you fast forward through on your DVR?). Perhaps you have seen or heard about this one:
If everyone is so inspired and motivated, why are there so many commercials for anti-depressants? Why is there a commercial about a woman who is so depressed she has to talk about herself as if she is a wind-up doll?
Maybe a lot of these quotes and inspiring words are genuine, but sometimes I wonder. Look at Oprah. Look at Dr. Phil. If you say the same kinds of things they do, then you are on your way to becoming a star. You’ll get retweeted. You’ll build a fan club. Right? It doesn’t matter if your area of expertise is marketing, business, fitness, or something people can’t really quite put their fingers on.
Meat and Potatoes versus Filet Mignon and Asparagus
Personally, and it is a personal preference, I don’t really try to emulate these superstars of motivation and chipperness. That’s not to say that I go around like Eeyore trying to drag people down. However, when I talk to people, when I am conversing with someone or trying to help someone, I don’t try to wow them. I don’t try to create a retweet or a few moments of “Wow, she just said that!” There’s nothing WRONG with that approach. It’s not bad. I view it like one of those super fancy meals at a really high brow restaurant. The kind of restaurant that might serve a “deconstructed something or other.” The kind of restaurant where you get a giant plate with a nickel-sized piece of meat that has a sprig of mint on top of it. It tastes great, divine even, but you’re going to be wanting a hamburger and fries on your way home.
Yes, this is the part where I say that I want to be a burger and fries. I want to converse with people in ways that are genuine, authentic, and really truly meaningful. If I happen to help someone with something, I want it to be noticeable if not tangible. I want it to last. I want to be the person who teaches the poor man how to fish rather than just throwing him some truffles now and then.
Back to Basics
You’ve heard it a million times. In today’s world, authenticity, being human, being yourself, counts. MarketingProfs announced a study today that stated that personal voice, not brands, rule the roost on Twitter. What does that mean?
To me, it means being a meat and potatoes kind of person. When I talk to someone about business, when I talk to someone online, when I’m participating in a chat or posting here to my little world of writing, I would much rather get my point across and start a conversation in lieu of being quoted a few dozen times because of a nuanced little turn of phrase. If I meet you in person, I’m probably not going to introduce myself via a quotation from Nietzsche. Similarly, I don’t try to introduce myself that way in other scenarios. I don’t like trying to talk in sound bytes. I like just talking. I like a “stick to your ribs” conversation that leaves you feeling a little more full than you were before. And that’s how I like to be talked to as well, just for the record.
How Do You Relate?
How do you communicate with people online or in person? Are you maybe a filet person online but a meat ‘n taters person in real life? Maybe it’s the other way around. I used to look at the retweets on Twitter or the shared Facebook status updates and I think, “Man, if I could just come up with something so clever and refined, I could get retweeted 20 million times.” But my own personal experience is that trying to do so feels like trying to walk down the street in a tutu. It just doesn’t feel right because it just isn’t me. As I’ve gotten more used to Twitter, getting retweeted is about the last priority on my mind. I’m conversing, passing on other peoples’ thoughts, and listening. Meat and potatoes kind of stuff. It’s not the right way. It’s not the wrong way. It’s most certainly not the most exciting way. But it is my way. What’s yours?
First Image by Hanka Lehmannova. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/hankaleh
Second Image by Jean Scheijen. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/vierdrie