Confessions of a reformed label [email protected]

10X Business Letter
San Diego, Ca
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear 10X Business Builder,

I have a confession to make:  I’m a label [email protected]

Actually, I used to be one.  But, probably not the definition or the type that comes to mind.

The colloquial version of a label [email protected], is someone that won’t purchase a product that doesn’t have a prestigious brand attached to it.  We all know someone that fits this description. But that’s not the type of label I’m referring to.

I’m referring to another label – a much more powerful and impactful one.

Let me explain:  growing up my biological father was never around.  After the age of 6, he only made the occasional obligatory birthday appearance.  I really only learned about him, what he was like, from what others told me.  Virtually everyone that knew him and met me would spit out some version of, “you look just like your dad” or “you’re just like your father”.  Everyone used to tell me how smart he was, that he had an IQ over 140 and that he was fantastic in math.  During one point in his life he taught mathematics at college.

My grandfather, who more of a father to me than anyone, was a civil engineer and despite the lack of a college degree, was also fantastic with numbers.  To this day, I still remember some of the “short cuts” that he taught me for calculations.  For example, how to calculate 99 x 99 in your head.  If you asked most people on the street, “what is 99 squared?”, they would have to open their smart phone and use the calculator.  But using some of ol’ grandpa’s wizardry I could spit out: 9801 in less than 5 seconds.  95^2?… 9125 (see below to learn grandpa’s shortcut)

When I was in school, I did well in math and science, I was enrolled in a program called, “running start”, where I was taking college level science classes and earning college credit while still in high school.

My friends, my family, my teachers all labeled me as a ‘numbers’ guy.

It was logical that when I grew up I wanted to be an engineer… why wouldn’t I?  My father (who everyone said I was just like) was a math teacher.  My grandpa was a civil engineer.

It was an unspoken expectation.

There is some interesting research on a human behavior that shows we tend to become and act in a way that is consistent with what others expect of us.  It’s called the The Pygmalion Effect—a self-fulfilling prophecy in which people are believed to perform better/worse when greater/lesser expectations are placed on them.

Of course I didn’t know any of this when I was 16! LOL

In my first year of college I took engineering classes and hated all of them.  I quickly dropped that major.

Up next?…

Finance – of course!!!

I completed my degree in Finance and (almost accidentally) one in Entrepreneurship.

Right out of college, I was recruited to work for a large defense contractor in their Financial Leadership Program.  This was a program geared to groom participants on a fast track to management.  Every six months we would rotate to another part of the Finance department.  I did rotations in Accounting, Financial Planning, Strategic Planning Mergers & Acquisitions and even spent a year in Australia as a controller of a small business unit.

It took me that long to realize, I WASN’T happy.  I couldn’t figure out why.  I should’ve been elated.  I stared at numbers all day and was on the fast track to upper management.  After some soul searching, I made the agonizing decision to leave corporate America and to start a business.

As I started the entrepreneurship journey, I quickly realized there was A LOT to creating, running and growing a business.  Just because you hang a business name on a shingle — doesn’t mean customers are going to line up.

It didn’t take long to realize that marketing was a critical part of any successful business.  Out of necessity, I became a devoted student of Marketing.  As I was reading, learning and implementing, it became apparent that great marketing took extraordinary creativity.  Hooks, headlines, emails, sales letters, ads, reports, funnels, lead magnets, website design all required creativity.  But I had this voice in my head that said, ‘you’re not creative’… you’re a numbers guy.  Math and science is “your thing”.  I doubted my ability and the worst part, I doubted my future.

At this point, I made one of the best decisions of my life.  I invested in a mentor.  John Jantsch, of the famed Ducttape Marketing franchise, offered a marketing coach certification course that educated, trained and certified you as a marketing coach.

One of the foundational principles was ‘two-step’ marketing.  This sort of marketing is where you create a piece of valuable content to give away in exchange for the lead’s contact information.

… This required CREATING.

… This required writing.

The problem with that was, I wasn’t a writer.  I was a number’s guy.  During college, English was the only C grade I had ever received.  I detested writing.  I wasn’t any good at it.

Despite having all these negative thoughts and doubts, I rolled up my sleeves and began to write.

I wrote ads, sales pages, free reports, emails, blogs… I created sales scripts, presentations and web content.

… And you know what?

I actually LOVED it!

As I wrote more and more I began to realize that I actually enjoyed it…

I can remember the first time someone commented on a blog post, “you’re such a great writer, I really enjoyed your article” (thanks mom!), I almost started laughing.  As I completed significantly more projects that required creativity, I actually became open to the idea that I actually might, just might be a ‘creative’ type.

For the longest time I had bought into the label that I was not creative— I was analytic and logical.

Looking back, it almost seems foolish.  I played in band all through middle school and excelled…  my sister is an amazing artist and hair stylist…. I used to love creating and telling stories as a kid, but the expectations and the ‘who I was’ TO OTHERS won out.

Often times we are not aware of the labels that we live with, or where they come from.  If we’re not raising our self awareness, we tend to take these on as our TRUTH.

… Labels are shapers of IDENTITY in camouflage …

They are like invisible handcuffs that can hold you hostage… (or set you free).  Labels are a double edge sword.  Being labelled as a numbers guy gave me confidence in my math abilities and I performed well but, they also limited me to explore my gifts.

Labels can come from many places.  Our parents, our teachers… our peers.

This is often evident when coaching clients on public speaking.  We have worked with clients from over 30 different industries and they say things like:

… I’m charismatic
… I’m not articulate
… I’m not a good speaker
… It takes too much work

And when we drill down, often times, they realize that these beliefs about their identity (labels) originated from other people and they have adopted by them as their own.  They were completely unaware of this!!!

You’ll never know unless you question yourself…

Why do I think this about myself?  Did it serve me in someway?  Does it still?
Where did this label come from?
Am I thinking this way because I want to or because it’s what others told me I should?

The point of this story is I spent nearly 25 years of my life thinking I was one thing versus another, simply because of the box that other people had put me in.  I implore you to have courage and explore, challenge and change the labels that you have about yourself.  Especially if they are limiting you.

We have many written testimonials and emails from private clients who when they came to us they had certain labels about public speaking and their abilities.  Once we started to challenge those labels and give them new skills… they actually began to LOVE speaking!  Just like I began to love doing creative activities.

So roll up your sleeves, challenge the status quo and become the true you!

Jeff Paro
Editor, The 10X Business Letter
Co-Founder, Influenceology

P.S. (Granpa’s short-cut) – if you want to square 99, here’s how you do it.  You take the difference from 100, in this case 100-99=1(difference) and subtract it from the number you want to square (99-1=98).  That is the first part of the answer, 98.  Then you take the difference (01) and square it (01^2=01), that is the second part of the number. 99^2= 9801.  98^2 looks like this: 98-2=96 +( 2^2=04), therefore: 9604

P.P.S – Just like grandpa has nifty ‘shortcuts’ for math, we have numerous shortcuts for overcoming your fears and transforming you into the best speaker you can be.

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