It’s true. They kind of have to be. After reporting on entrepreneurs and tech startups for the last year – I’ve learned from the best founders that no one will be as passionate about your product as you are. And your team strengthens if you can convince them to be as passionate as well.
It’s because being an entrepreneur can be damn hard. Like being a reporter, it’s not a glamorous job, although the idea of “startups” is becoming more and more glamorous are more enticing. Passion helps you get through the journey.
The truth is: We all need to be entrepreneurs in this day and age.
Some of the most compelling entrepreneurs I’ve written about are music entrepreneurs. It’s partially because the music industry has such high barriers to entry. It’s partially because many don’t understand the business of music, and so entrepreneurs have to speak creatively to communicate the process to others. And it’s partially because music is an art, and you can expect many music entrepreneurs to speak of their products poetically, in the way you wish programmers could. With hopeless romanticism.
This type of hopeless romanticism often converts to persistence and true belief in their work — something all entrepreneurs must have for their product, and something all people must have for themselves.
After all, in a lifetime, your greatest product is who you build yourself to be.
Furthermore, in this day and age we all have to build our own personal brands. Cliché to say: Social media has made it so. As a journalist, we’re taught to keep the same pictures for our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ accounts. I’ve broken this rule, but have broken it while constructing a voice that’s relatively consistent throughout my work. Everything I produce is in an attempt to be consistent with who I am.
Have I achieved this? Maybe not yet. But building a brand is a process and it transcends your online identity. It filters into how you’re able to prove yourself as a person every day as an employee and as an expert in your field to your “professional network.” It also filters into how your friends and your “social network” see you as someone trusted. The person you make yourself in one network impacts the other. So your pictures should be the same, the things you say should be fluid and you should not show signs of split personality, at least so they say. Whatever you need to do to tell the world who you are. Make sure you’re exuding a strong sense of self.
The funny thing is, depending on who you’re speak to, you must brand yourself differently. This can be difficult to do. Most entrepreneurs have had a number of companies and projects, so how do they clearly state who they are and what they’ve done? It’s also difficult as a freelance journalist. I write about many things, and depending on who I’m talking to I’m a “broadcast reporter” or a “business reporter,” as if I can’t be both. The reality is that we wear many hats. The reality is that understanding who you’re talking to can be far more important than how you’ve built your brand, because depending on who you’re talking to, your brand may change.
Is this insincere? Is it difficult to do? Is it acting?
I don’t think it needs to be. If you know who you are or what you want to do, it’s not too hard to do your research to understand how you relate to someone and how you don’t. Both are important to communicate because how you relate will build trust, and how you don’t relate will build respect. We learn the most from those who are not like ourselves.
And I think this is the most important understanding of today’s job market.
You’ll have to sell yourself in many ways, but this doesn’t mean selling your soul. It doesn’t mean losing sight of who you are. It just means understanding yourself a little better – every caveat, every turn in your personality. It means understanding where you fit into the world – what you can add, what hats will be best suited for you.
Insincere? Maybe not. Difficult? Maybe so. But this comes back to where being a hopeless romantic is important. If you believe in yourself and what you’re doing, it need not be difficult to get to where you want to be. And learning who you are can help you learn how to balance the ways you relate – and don’t relate – to the world around you.
For more reading: How a little inspiration goes a long way with entrepreneurs – http://basakwrites.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/inspiration-behind-chicago-start-up-growth/