Why does the Future You need to be recognizable and original?

“Well, that’s super boring.”

Raise your hand if I’ve said that to you about you. If you could see my network of brilliant friends, my guess is you’d see several hands sheepishly raise. Why? Because when I ask them what they want to teach others about their Future-selves, they often start with something like, “Well, I want them to know that I’m a team player, I’m great at solving complex problems, and I’m a strategic thinker.”

Let me guess. You would want people to know that about you too. Guess what, everyone does. It’s why this particular answer is boring. It’s the equivalent of saying I want to “buy a car that will get me from here to there.” or “Let’s have dinner at that restaurant that makes me feel full.”
Like car companies and your local chef, they want you to know that you can fulfill the need (recognizable) and original. You need to equally be the concept car of the future and 2000 Toyota Corolla.

When it comes to other people choosing you and your unique set of professional goodies, you want them to think, “Oooo. I want and need that thing. AND Woah…that’s awesome.”

If they’re going to hire you, promote you, put you on the project because they require a particular skill set and thinking style right for the project. And it’s their perception of what that is and what it looks like that matters. Why? Because they’re the ones with the job description, they’re the ones with the problem to solve. They need to recognize that you’re the person with the right stuff.

It’s effortless for managers to perceive “Recognizable” Future Value if you’ve been doing the job for years. It’s even easier for them if they look like you and sound like you – Yes. Think about it for a second. Do you find it easier to see the potential in someone (aka their Future Self) when they look and sound like you? Yes, I’m talking about bias here. We all have it. Why? Because we all know people who look more like us and sound more like us. And for those people…

It. Is. Easier. To. Recognize. Their. Potential. 

Bias isn’t a character flaw unless you choose to do nothing about it.

Back to my point about recognizability – easy if you’re already a known entity. It gets far more difficult when you either have no experience in the subject area or are trying to pivot into a new field. Recognizability takes a little more effort. You don’t want the hiring manager or project lead to make assumptions about your capabilities, but they will unless you teach them otherwise.

Example: Back in the 90’s I was running a very fancy swimsuit store. As the manager, one of my most significant responsibilities was in generating sales. Insider tip – 98% of my customers HATED shopping for swimwear. Then an opportunity crossed my path. I received an invitation (because I knew someone who wanted to give me a break – she recognized my potential) to interview for a digital media company job. The VP of Sales was the decision-maker. He (yes, he – it’s safe to say his experience with the women’s swimwear sales purchase process was limited) needed to understand that my sales experience in high-end fashion would translate into the world of media. I had ZERO experience in media. ZERO. At one point in the interview, he asked me about my experience with “objection handling.” I proceeded to talk him through the umpteen objections, starting with the 98% hate issue you have to handle with a swimsuit customer. Then I mapped each sales objection to the types of sales objections I assumed (yes, I’d done my research) existed in the media world. Throughout the conversation, I validated that “this swimsuit thing over here” mapped to this “media thing over there.” He kept nodding, and I kept going. Yes, I got the job. I also learned a ton.

Are you making it easy for people to recognize your potential, or are you making them guess?

But, as I mentioned before, you also don’t want to be boring. Why? Because you need the hiring manager to remember you. You want and need to be unique.

Let me go back to the example I just shared. I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one interviewing for the job. I’m also assuming I wasn’t the only person qualified for the job. But put yourself in the shoes of the VP of Sales for a second. You have ten qualified candidates to interview for two open positions. 

  1. Media salesperson
  2. Media salesperson
  3. Media salesperson
  4. Media salesperson
  5. Media salesperson
  6. Swimsuit salesperson
  7. Media salesperson
  8. Media salesperson
  9. Media salesperson
  10. Media salesperson

Who are you going to remember?

Yes, this is a dramatic example, and on the “boring meter,” it’s possible I stood out a tad too much. But that was a risk I was willing, and needed, to take.

Why does the Future You need to be recognizable and original?

  • Recognizable = understandable
  • Original = memorable

I’d like you to consider one last idea as you think about recognizable and original, your current network. Your network already understands you and (I hope) remembers you. Here’s the big question, what is it your network understands and remembers? I’m pretty sure I’m not even doing the best job I can here. I’ve had several conversations over the holidays and realized that several people I know who think I’m awesome and 100% support me had the wrong idea about the work I’m doing. I own this, and I’ll continue to work on fixing it. But this is a reminder, teaching others, especially those who already know you, about the Future You is surprisingly hard. If you’re reading this before Jan 22nd, 2021, you can join us at the Live Show as we’re going to be talking about the power of your network. If you missed it, no worries, we’ll post a recording of the show on YouTube the following week. You can watch and subscribe to them here.

The value of the Future You is ALL about you and yet not about you at all. It’s about how others perceive the value of the Future You.

Isn’t it time to make that easy?