During the fantastical stretch of time between 1860–1998, you could pay advertisers a gajillion dollars to craft you a contrived flawless brand image and broadcast it to the masses. Your money went in one end and even more money came out the other.
It was a flawless model. Brilliant, in fact.
So, in turn, most every ‘successful’ business was filled with largely faceless corporate heads who checked the right boxes, got the job done, and didn’t worry much about their humanity (because their flawless persona had already been created, bought, and sold by the mad men).
And then came the internet. Now, small-town rules are back.
More and more of us own our work now. Even employees (who own what they do and sell it to their one customer — their employer).
We’re all on camera these days. Even if you think you’ve escaped from social media and the digital world by not buying a smartphone with a camera, everyone else has one (that will eventually be trained on you).
Back in the day, if the butcher was a jerk or if he sold spoiled meat, you went to the butcher down the road or in the next town after telling your friends about him at the town hall.
It pays to be a well-adjusted human. Always has. Except for the small, necessary blip of time that was the industrial revolution which created a veritable fantasy land where we could fake our humanity for a short while.
Not hating on it here. It made us pretty rich (I love my TV, indoor plumbing, and even this computer I’m typing on now — thanks, big industry!). But because of the power of the model at the time, we went against ourselves in a lot of ways.
Now, however, we’re back. The internet has largely returned us to the way humans work.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Big industry is never going away (and it’s extremely useful if constructed consciously). It’s just way more expensive and far less reliable now to put all your money into marketing/advertising while being a shitty person, screwing over your customers, and doing horrible work. That might work in the short term, but it has adverse effects on well-being (our inner-GPS tends to scream, ‘REROUTING, REROUTING’ over and over again when we live this way) and our business (like I said, we’re all under scrutiny now).
Your best marketing is you. Getting your head right, tapping into your creative superpowers, being generous, knowing yourself, doing work that matters, enjoying the many other aspects of life, will allow the world to beat a path to your stand-up desk.
The camera is rolling. We can see you. But can we trust you? Do we have faith in you? Are we inspired by you?
We want to shake hands and BS with the baker (but not too much, because we’re busy). We want you to stay mentally/physically/spiritually healthy so you can open the doors tomorrow. The innate love you bring to what you do is effectual. We’re drawn to it.
Separating ourselves from our work is harder than ever. This can be stressful. Or it can be the best thing that’s ever happened to you.
I’d recommend choosing the latter.