Debra Swersky
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If and when I find myself in a conversation about work, or what I do, or how I work, (with someone new) more often than not the person with whom I am speaking with will say something like, “Gosh, you’re so methodical.” (“Gosh” is for the anecdote.) I tend to agree. I’ve felt that creativity comes from constraints and that when faced with competition, the process that one goes through is typically what’s being purchased. 

From my time working for myself and selling my own services I realized that my skillset (or whatever it is that I’m attempting to sell) is a commodity - a dime a dozen… anyone can do it - something for which it is hard to differentiate oneself. I’ve talked about cover letters and resumes before, and the process that I go about writing those… the kind of stuff where the Fascination Advantage is of use.

This past week I found myself in yet another Fascination Advantage situation… but this time with a company and their content strategy (correction, my company: LionsMouth Digital). We had been discussing redoing our website for some time and dedicated part of our workcation to building out the copy and design for our re-launch. Since web design and development companies are plentiful, what distinguishes one from another is the process that each one goes through to solve your problem. 

LionsMouth Digital built a brand anthem (which I’m pleased to say was put to good use during our website planning sessions). Based on what I’ve been reading, websites, though sometimes pretty to look at, are more about the content on the page and the way that it is organized (information architecture) and less about the design of the site. It’s important to have a great design to help tell the story, but the story has to be there to tell in the first place. 

As I prepared my workshop for the team on building a brand anthem, I marinated on the importance of content strategy. After building the brand anthem, it became uber clear that the process by which we built the anthem was helpful, informative, and perspective-building. You can’t be everything to everyone, but you have to be something to someone… or as Sally Hogshead would say, “You do not have to be perfect at everything, but you have to extraordinary at something.” Building our brand anthem helped our team get clear about what it is that we’re providing to our clients and what we hope that they will feel upon completion of our work. The method (constraint) helped us to achieve our strategic goals (creativity).

Though methodical in life, there is one place where I try my darndest to withhold all elements of process-orientation: relationship-building… more specifically, building friendships. I often fail… (I’m not blind, people!) But, it’s not until I see other process-oriented people build relationships that I slap my wrists. I don’t see it often, but when I do it’s confusing in the moment, jarring when the switch is flipped to something unexpected (like a sales pitch), and unfortunate once you’ve stood back to assess the damage. 

Methods have their places. Best used to drive creative processes. Being methodical has its place. Best harnessed when driving towards an end goal. But, being methodical to build a relationship (again, more specifically, a friendship)  just won’t get you to wherever it is you think you want to go. You have to actually care about the person with whom you’re building a relationship… and care less about selling whatever it is that you’re selling.

Debra Swersky