The One Thing You Need to Know
Great things happen in collaboration: We achieve more together.
How do I know this to be true?
There are many stories I can share with you—and will share them over time on the blog—but the one that’s most timely is the story of Tracy Diziere & Associates’ rebrand to TDZ Creative Partners this year. People who’ve worked with me in a consultative capacity—who have reached out when they’ve been stumped or cloudy—have seen that I can bring newfound clarity to business situations and marketing problems. And yet, for most of the 11 years I’ve been in business, I’ve had a lack of clarity for myself.
It’s been embarrassing, really, to be in my industry and feel like I didn’t have a clear message. Or to feel as though there’s no unifying element to my varying passions and capabilities. That’s probably what has pained me the most over the past years—feeling fragmented and not seeing how all the pieces fit together and how to communicate my value in the world. I have done this successfully for others—branding for entrepreneurs, consulting on service offerings, developing strategic and effective communications, and more. This is a problem I SHOULD be able to solve, I had thought—repeatedly. Why could I not do it for myself? It wasn’t until I hired Root + River as my branding consultants that the pieces started to fit together. I was presented with new ways of looking at myself and my business. Because of this process, I feel grounded and, while still a work in progress, my business feels more cohesive. I now have a core belief that drives our offerings—Nothing is created alone. For me, collaboration and outside perspective were the answers I needed. All it took was to be brave enough—maybe just fed up enough!—to reach out for help. Instead of expecting myself to be able to do it all, alone.
So, it’s distressing to think of entrepreneurial-minded leaders sitting alone with their ideas or issues, believing they have to do it all themselves. I’d rather see their unrealized, unexecuted ideas coming to life and problems solved instead of gnawing at them.
I’ll take it a step further: it’s heartbreaking to me when I’m not able to prevent this, when my skills and critical thinking can’t be applied in full for someone else’s benefit—especially when so much is on the line.
In the past, I’ve seen people make myopic decisions and stick to them or believe they have to do something (e.g., grow their businesses, plan their lives, create marketing content) in certain ways. These “certain ways” are usually prescribed by someone else: they’re one-size-fits-all, flash-in-the-pan concepts, or “generally accepted” paths. I believe entrepreneurial-minded leaders do not accept the status quo, do not implement “lemming marketing”—or “lemming living.” I’m here to help show the alternate routes, the ones that make sense at an individual and custom level. Often based on unique strengths. Especially when these things aren’t apparent. That’s what being a creativity conduit means. That’s my calling—and my brand.
Sometimes entrepreneurial-minded leaders are unable to see the expansive possibilities that are right in front of them. Because they are too close to their work and because they don’t have a creative sounding board, they can’t see a way out of a problem or into an opportunity. Or they try to solve the wrong problem or pursue an opportunity that won’t be as fruitful or even aligned with their authentic selves.
Sometimes they settle on an idea that might take them off-course—and they either don’t know it or are running away from their greatness. No one is immune to this, by the way. I’ve had the “crazy idea” before, too. Or the outer-limits request. Or the shiny-dot opportunity.
I remember teaming up with someone years ago to work with a particular market, which was new to us both. We had complementary skills, good connections, and a lot of time to invest (read: business was NOT booming). After quite a bit of sweat equity, I had the feeling the numbers weren’t going to work out. Sunk cost and fear kept me in limbo about it—and I was trying to remain positive. I ended up wasting my time and my colleague’s by trying to make it work and being in denial about my intuition. If I had been my own client, I would’ve required more analysis of the business model and the competitive landscape upfront. If I had access to an unbiased outsider, they might have pointed out earlier the difficulties of breaking into that market—and the downsides of our approach. Or given me the courage to listen to my intuition and voice it, whether the analysis checked out or not.
But I didn’t have any of that. We were just two gung-ho, optimistic, entrepreneurial-minded leaders in a culture where perseverance is a virtue. So, I clung to the project for too long, which was actually a detriment to the relationship and a detour from my true path and the direction I needed to be focused on for business success. I feel this misdirection deeply when it happens to others and, with a high degree of trust and honesty, we can course-correct together. Change can be scary and designing a path to do it together can bring about more confidence and better results.
Now, because I operate from “nothing is created alone,” when I have new ideas or opportunities, I share them with the right people—those I trust who have specialized skills and will play devil’s advocate with me because “uncreating together” is important too. Like I mentioned in the story above, it would’ve been much better to have someone who could see around the corner and identify the pitfalls. Who would hold me accountable to testing the idea and breaking down the logic, whatever the outcome might be. That’s what I have to give to others.
In some cases, entrepreneurial-minded leaders have so many ideas and no real way to vet them, to make a decision on what to move forward with. Their ability to analyze ideas has been compromised. In these cases, other perspectives are essential.
Even an entrepreneur or intrapreneur with a great idea that’s been vetted or validated can still feel isolated and stuck. Usually this happens because the next steps or the road map isn’t clear. These entrepreneurial-minded leaders aren’t sure where to begin, are afraid to act on their ideas, or simply don’t have the bandwidth to problem-solve or flesh out details. I see the latter a lot with TDZ Creative Partners’ corporate clients, especially when developing marketing content to support new product launches or channel-specific campaigns. These intrapreneurs have all the internal knowledge, marketing smarts, and drive to achieve success. Because they are busy, they just need to be able to throw a rough idea over to us and then have us give it more form and bring it to life for them.
Being busy brings me to an important point. Even when entrepreneurial-minded leaders don’t have any of the other challenges, there’s one barrier we all face at one point or another which is a lack of time—the most valuable resource we have. Since cloning ourselves isn’t an option—and even if it were, that might not be the best solution!—how do we achieve more? Many turn to “outsourcing” but perhaps without strategizing. Honestly, doing anything without thinking strategically is my pet peeve. The people I admire most are strategic achiever-thinkers and they support the old adage, “Two heads are better than one.”
I see my role as a creativity conduit in all of these situations, where my singular focus is to help these entrepreneurial-minded leaders bring the best ideas to life. In the end, it doesn’t matter whose idea it was; we may not even remember. For me, it’s about the results and not the glory. As long as there’s mutual respect and appreciation and we’re in it together—working with our unique strengths—we are being successful. My passion is taking the best ideas farther, faster—together—whether those ideas are for more marketing content; new or improved businesses, offers, or solutions; or different ways of living and working in the world.
I’ve always been able to generate a lot of ideas. In my work, I also whittle those down to the best. And I can get started without having all the answers or the complete picture. I’ve witnessed many entrepreneurial-minded professionals struggle with seeing the possibilities, achieving focus, or beginning execution—because of judgment, perfectionism, and fear as well as a lack of their most valuable resource, time. They also are often performing tasks they do not love, are not naturally skilled at doing, and/or do not make sense—although they can’t see it. It makes me really happy to help entrepreneurial-minded leaders align their authentic strengths and passions with their responsibilities and to increase their productivity and success levels at the same time.
The people I love working with care about their own success as much as or more than I do and they are all about co-creation. Even if it means, as William Faulkner said about writing, “you must kill all your darlings.” It takes great courage to do that. I invite open-minded, entrepreneurial-minded leaders to bravely share their ideas and stumbling blocks and step into the power of “creative partnering” with us.
Published August 13, 2018