Let me introduce myself. My name is LeeAnna – two names smashed into one, capital A in the middle. You can blame my parents for that one. I’m a writer (at least people tell me that I am), a bit cynical, and more than a bit nerdy. I love spicy food, dogs, and sarcasm. I have traveled to every continent except Antarctica (one day!) and if you ever force me to encounter a snake, real or fake, our friendship is probably ruined forever. I see life play out like a Disney movie and I’ll do just about anything for the people and causes that I care about. I’m a writer for VoiceNation, a marketer and I’m what they call an Outlander in the Business World.
That’s me in a nutshell.
And the funny thing is, I’ve only recently learned these things about myself. Like so many of us, I have lived my life so careful to please others and be the distinctive version of LeeAnna that was most appropriate at the time. That is probably why I never thought that I would make it in corporateAmerica. I’m a nomad at heart and my filter doesn’t always work as quickly as it should, so business-speak is not really my forte. I don’t know how to say all the right things, I can’t rock a pencil skirt let alone walk in heels, and I can’t eat a formal meal without getting anxiety over the “shoulds” and “should nots” of the professional business luncheon.
Does this make me a bad employee? No, but here’s a reason for the social norms of the business community. Professionalism is not only important, it’s crucial to see a business grow and create respect and dependability. But professionalism can come in many different forms if we allow those forms to shine. Maybe the non-businessy crowd – those that aren’t fluent in corporate-ese and don’t have the perfect interview façade ready to whip out at any turn – is just who we need to employ in order to reach new levels of potential in our business.
What if we encouraged our employees to be themselves and then played our part to help them grow into the best version of themselves that they can be? Those freed to thrive within their own skin become dreamers. They become go-getters – the creative types determined to push past every social, technological, and creative norm. These dreamers live and breathe innovation and the pursuit to conquer new territory – but only when they’re allowed to reach for it.
Don’t just take it from me. The rising generation is slowly changing small corners of the workforce from a mentality of “this is just how we do things” in order to ask a valid question: “What if there’s a BETTER way to do things?”
Seth Godin said it well when he asked, “How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so great for you to be remarkable?”
By freeing our employees of an uptight business culture, it enables them to focus on the task at hand instead of always being afraid to step on toes or use the wrong verbiage at the wrong time. When you’re not concerned with business taboos, you are not only more productive, but you’re productive for a longer time. Employees burn out – that’s inevitable. We will all reach a point of burn out at some point, but the rate of that burn out decreases incrementally when we do not have to pretend to be someone that we aren’t.
This is why I am so thankful for VoiceNation. Somehow they have managed to create a culture that is professional and dependable without smothering the creativity in their team. Maybe it’s the staff development. Maybe it’s weekly holidays planned throughout the office. Maybe it’s even the fully stocked kitchen. But most likely it’s a combination of everything that gives them a culture that encourages individuals to thrive, to be themselves and in turn, pour their best selves into a company that they believe in. Either way, this nomadic, sarcastic, cynical writer is happy to have found a home somewhere in the midst of corporate America.
So as you venture into another recruiting season, let’s open up the box and breathe a bit. Take some time to squint in the sun, stretch your limbs, and then explore a new world of personality and potential that is begging to be seized