When I think of the moments I'd found myself well received by prospects, clients and potential employers over the course of my career, it wasn't when I was checking boxes or communicating from bullet points. Rather, it was when I was sharing from a free flowing spirit, fully allowing myself to communicate and express what was heartfelt. When I have done that, I have made stronger connections with others and opened more doors of opportunity.
For example, many years ago, as I was having lunch in a cafeteria with a friend who was involved in sales of financial services, I had casually shared with him aspects of my study and understanding of economics. I remember sharing how the forces of economic development were important for shaping and improving the lives of broad masses of people. Certainly, this was so for segments of the population that were open to understanding how those forces of economics could be leveraged to help them create wealth.
The zest and animation with which I communicated my convictions caused my friend to abruptly interrupt me and say, "Renwick, stop for a moment. You've been saying to me that you don't want to be involved in sales. But the way in which you just described economic forces, conveyed your passion for helping others create wealth, and expressed commitment to empowering others, are the very reasons you should be involved in selling. You really should consider selling financial services." Communicating my heartfelt views had influenced him to open up and share his. And that conversation changed the course of my career.
Another insightful experience communicating what is heartfelt helped me better understand my uniqueness and value in the marketplace. Early in my career, after I had been newly hired for the sale of financial solutions at a firm in New York City, the manager had gone around the room asking his direct reports why they thought they would do well in the financial services industry. As he went around the room, he got answers that included, "I like working with numbers,"and "I enjoy learning about financial instruments and then sharing them to help my clients achieve their goals." Someone else said "I've worked with artists and musicians and as an artist myself, I know they generally don't give attention to financial matters as they should. I help them attend to their financial affairs and needs." Then my manager came around to me. Even though it was true, I jokingly said with a chuckle, "I have a good eye for color coordination."
Everybody looked at me with surprise. Clearly, they were taken aback by the absurdity of my answer. I recall the look of astonishment on their faces at the seeming ridiculousness of my proposition. The facial expressions suggested, "C’mon. What are you talking about? Where do you think you are? In an artists' colony? This is serious business here. We're talking about numbers, money, securities, important financial decisions. We're not talking about color. C‘mon now."
But I came to my own defense. I explained that color is often a starting point, a way of capturing attention. Then I shared my view that from there it could stimulate engagement, familiarity, affection, friendship and trust. As I expounded on these perspectives, I could see the wheels turning in their heads. They had begun to recognize the reasonableness of my idea. I imagined they must have thought "Oh yes, I guess, there is some justification for embracing this approach. After all, we do need to connect with people." So I went on to explain, "I have an eye for fabrics, textures and colors. So when I wear a shirt, suit, tie or accessory, it serves as a way of making my appearance interesting to others, and that starts a conversation." I shared further how it leads to building relationships with strangers and then ultimately, a discussion of what I do and how I might be able to help them. I surmised that eventually this leads to my becoming their trusted advisor. I forecasted that this sequence of experiences and outcomes would continue to be the case over time, and they have. And it has been because of my affinity and interest in dealing with colors.
It's those moments, sprinkled with unorthodox ideas applied to familiar practices, that can shift paradigms and cause people to think differently. They allow you to stand out as unusually equipped to make a difference in ways others cannot. It's a matter of communicating what's heartfelt. It's a creative approach. And it's an irresistible approach to garnering respect, instilling confidence and building a successful career.
Renwick Brutus' career has spanned roles as research economist, investment advisor, entrepreneur and consultant. He holds an MBA from Fordham University and has been recognized for his outstanding achievement in sales and business leadership. Today, Renwick applies his unique blend of business strategy and interpersonal skills to help individuals prosper and companies grow. He owns multiple enterprises and is in great demand to consult with business leaders. Contact him by email and LinkedIn .