If you're involved in growing your business in 2015 -- whether you're the CMO of a 60 billion dollar company or the CEO of your personal brand -- I've got a hot prediction for you. Listen up, because this is world-changing advice you can jump on. No seriously, I'm about to give you the red pill, so pay attention.
Companies and personal brands that speak the truth through their marketing in 2015 will outpace their competitors by 743 percent.
Disclaimer, my percentages might be plus or minus a few percent (I have a degree in make believe).
As a former actor and the now founder of a ten year old storytelling business, I find myself in that odd space of the artist qualified to share business advice (buyer beware, the thoughts I'm going to share with you are not going to be in line with what you'll pick up from a traditional MBA).
I spent the first 20 years of my career in search of the truth. First, I was looking for it on the stage. I was fortunate to study in LA with Jeff Goldblum, and I still remember the day when there were only three students in class and I actually shook with anxiety. I've rarely felt star struck, but Jeff was brilliant at narrowing in on the truth that existed beneath the words. And I shared his intense curiosity and love of people and how we avoid, admit, and own our truths. The moments between the words we use are often where the magic exists and acting amidst that awesome energy catapulted me to alternate universes where I was a lover, an enemy, a playmate, a soul mate, and sometimes a conspirator. When I found and lived at that edge in those moments, I received praise for taking emotional risks in front of others.
Eventually, I broke off in search of other's people's truths. In 2005 I founded a writing company that championed people's books and therein I found myself the recipient of intimate details of drug deals gone bad, domestic abuse at its most inhumane, and the moments of courage when an abused forgives their abuser. What I found on this journey to truth was that people didn't often have access to their juiciest truths until the seventh or eight month of our work together. Because, while the truth is always there, it is elusive, unsafe, and terrifying to admit to one's self much less to another or, God forbid, the world. So a safe space had to be created and nurtured and loved before real truths could rise to the surface to be captured and revealed.
And therein lies the magic we all have access to. It is our humanity. While not all of us has been abused, nor have we all carried suitcases of cocaine and exchanged them for large amounts of cash, we have all experienced the deep pain of being human. In fact, we're all experiencing it most every day. The pain of being a lost parent. The pain of losing a loved one. The pain of injustice. The pain of aging. The pain of loneliness. But because we are all busy hiding these pains from one another, the truth is perceived as a grenade that could cause serious damage; tearing limbs and projecting shrapnel.
But that is a lie. Truth grenades, as often, sprinkle fairy dust of connection and invite cathartic moments of healing and joy. To have secrets is human. To share them publically is the stuff heroes are made of.
So how do these lessons around truth impact our businesses?
As we enter 2015, I don't need to shove the statistics on social media and how we consume content in your face. You know how the world is changing--just look at how quickly you flip through your Facebook feed to find what resonates with you. And therein lies the shift.
What resonates with any of us in the content we consume, is the same thing that attracts us to another human being when we are looking for love or companionship. We are looking for a mirror that reflects back a piece of our truth--a piece of our humanity that makes us feel good about ourselves, about life, and about the world.
Think of life back when you were dating. Wasn't someone's ability to be honest the most arousing of characteristics? Weren't you looking for someone who knew themselves, owned their imperfections, and who had a good heart? If someone was full of B.S. couldn't you sense it? Couldn't you eventually tell when someone was just trying to use you?
It is the same in business.
We are looking to do business with brands that make us feel good about life, that have good hearts, and that own their imperfections. And yet, businesses have been taught to fake their way into our wallets for decades. That's comparable to faking their way into our bedrooms and we are simply not standing for it any longer. We have access to too many choices to waste time with phony suitors.
Businesses have a responsibility to share the truth around their beliefs and values. To share the stories of the loving people who power their businesses and the loving customers they are working to serve. They have a responsibility to invite the world into the "why" behind their business and into the "who" that benefits from their energy: from the CEO, to the front line employees, to the customers, vendors and investors.
If businesses respect themselves enough to be real with their stakeholders, those who find beauty in the same outlook will surround that brand and share in that journey. They will become customers and friends, employees and ambassadors.
And what happens if you shine a truth light on something and reveal ugliness? Well that's called opportunity. Own it, better it, and allow your entire ecosystem to watch while you do.
Choose truth. Your business will thrive if you do.