‘Be yourself’ is the most overused useless piece of advice that people keep on giving. If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting. Unless you’re attracting the people you want to attract already, ‘being yourself’ is useless. It’s like telling the guy who failed the test “you don’t need to study, you already know the answers, you just need to think harder.”
If you’re not attracting the people you want to attract, you have to innovate your personality. That doesn’t mean you have to give up your core values or be a completely different person (but you could). You just have to fine-tune your personality so you attract the flies you want to attract.
Your Personality As a Product
Look at your personality as a product and other people as consumers. It might seem a bit dehumanizing. But look at it like this. If you went out to live in the woods for 5 years and came back to civilization one day. How interesting do you think your conversations will be?
In all likelihood, not very. Fact is our personality is for others to consume just as we ‘consume’ the personalities of others.
Then it wouldn’t be too far off to think of ourselves as businesses. We offer our personalities as products and we look to get something in return. That something could be friendship, relationship, one night relationships, business relationships, or even something as basic as giving the other person a good time. Whatever it may be, your ‘product’ has to be capable of getting you what you want.
Innovate Your Personality
The Little Black Book Of Innovation is a book on how to innovate products and services. It is an introduction on the mindset and way of thinking innovation requires, ideas critical for success, and steps you need to take.
While the book never mentions innovating your personality specifically personalities are basically products. The structure in which you create a product and craft a personality are eerily similar.
In the book, the author Scott D. Anthony defines innovation as such:
Something different that has impact.
How do you describe somebody that is unique and interesting?
Somebody different that has impact.
The definition has a couple nuances. First, different to whom? You have to decide what is the target audience you want to charm over before deciding how.
Then impact. Impact as Scott describes is ‘some kind of measurable result.’ For products this could be profit, improvements on processes, measurable effect on the lives of others, etc. For the purpose of innovating your personality, impact could be positive interactions, some form of interest, money in your pockets, etc.
4 Mindsets of Innovation
As you innovate your personality to become a more interesting person, keep these mindsets in mind.
Take an External Viewpoint
Many take the approach of ‘I am who I am and people can hate it or love it.’ If they’re where they want to be, more power to them. But the fact is you have different subsets of your personality for different situations. You’ll act one way around family and another way around friends. Nothing wrong with that.
What this mindset does is it tunes you into the mind of the people you want to attract. How do you create impact? What makes them smile? What makes them cry?
A great way of understanding what creates impact is through stealing.
“Good artists, great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso
Hang around people you want to attract or watch movies with that subset of people in them. What kind of jokes do they laugh at? What kind of body language do they react to? How do people talk? etc.
You can steal almost anything. But keep in mind you’re innovating, not creating a knock-off. The difference is that innovation is the intersection of the elements you steal rather than a complete ripoff. For example, a Swifter Sweeper is a broom handle combined with sanitizer wipes which makes it completely unique.
Recognize That You Are Wrong
“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” – Mike Tyson
You know those conversations you play out in your head and how conversations in real life seldom come out like that? Yeah real life isn’t a script and there are going to be times when things go completely awry as you innovate your personality. You can assume what works, but until you’ve tried it, you can never say for sure.
So when things do go wrong you should have some sort of motion in place to make everything OK.
And sometimes when things go wrong it might not be your fault. You might do everything right but the other person is just having a bad day and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s important to reward the behavior rather than the outcome so you can keep pushing forward.
Release Your Inner Edison
“If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward.” – Thomas Edison
You’re not going to wake up tomorrow with the charisma of Russel Brand or Will Smith. It’s work. But at the same time it’s a fun process. It’s a lot like how comedians refine their jokes. They do set over set over set telling the same jokes so they can figure out what works and more importantly what doesn’t work.
They’re refining their work but doing what they love at the same time.
Fight the Sucking Sound of the Core
The number one thing that stops people from innovating their personalities is their core or who they are right now. It’s hard to remove yourself from your self-image. Corporations have the same problem.
“…let’s play the “Who Could Have?” game. The game involves picking a popular start-up, and asking what established company could have launched the start-up. Nine times out of 10 the established company actually had something in the works that didn’t quite make it.” – The Little Black Book of Innovation
Why don’t they make it?
Consider Facebook. It wasn’t preordained that Facebook was to be created by a student in his dorm room. When I ask audiences who could have created Facebook, they typically respond with technology companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon or Yahoo! These are valid answers. But I push the audience members by asking them why people use Facebook. One core reason is a simple way to share memories and images. What other company has historically helped people share memories and images? Kodak.
Here’s the interesting thing. The film giant had its fingers on Facebook as early as 2001. At the time, the company had purchased a company called Ofoto, one of the leading online album providers. How hard would t have been for Kodak to say, “You know, our tagline is ‘Share memories, share lives. Why don’t we let people simply share album pictures? While we are at it we can create a feature that allows people to share new times as well.”
The idea was two steps from Facebook. – The Little Black Book of Innovation
And the rest is history. Kodak succumbed into the sucking sound of its core. Had Kodak shifted Ofoto into a people-centric business as opposed to a photo-centric business, chances are Facebook wouldn’t have taken off like it had.
When you’re innovating your personality the biggest challenge is not making the shifts you need to make to create the most impact because ‘that’s not who I am.’ For example, you might not want to ask deep diving questions because the way you’ve always done small talk has been by asking boring shallow questions. Or you might not want to inflect your voice because you’ve always talked in the same monotone manner.
You’re not compromising your values or what makes you fundamentally unique. Innovating your personality is changing how you present yourself and making your personality a more attractive product.
4 Types of Innovation
Proctor & Gamble, one of the most innovate companies of the past decade, follows four strategic intents to innovate their products.
This is ‘first impression’ innovation. How do you innovate your first impression?
- Grooming + hygiene (do you look like you take care of yourself)
- Body language (do you look confident, happy/sad)
- Social proof (getting people to vouch for you makes a big difference)
- Clothes (are you properly representing the image you want to put out)
“-er” Innovation +
Or incremental improvement. This is when you go to the gym for weeks and start eventually seeing gains or talking to everybody you see and seeing your social skills get better. Most of your time will be spent doing “-er” innovation.
Transformational innovation is the After picture in weight-loss advertisements. It’s a big shift as opposed to an incremental change. An example of transformational innovation would be 4K HDTV. These new TVs have dramatically increased visual performance compared to their 1080p counterparts.
For personalities, transformational innovation is “-er” innovation focused in one area. Juggling multiple changes at the same time would be too inefficient.
These are the big hitters, the personalities that everybody remembers. When you aim to innovate disruptively, you aim to be masters in at least two different areas. For example Neil deGrasse Tyson is a brilliant astrophysicists that understands how to make it entertaining for the masses. Disruptive innovation. Or take for example Muhammad Ali. Legendary boxer with equally legendary wit.
Unlike products which come out of nowhere, personalities become disruptive after staying in the trenches of “-er” innovation. Meaning you won’t be a big personality unless you practice how to make impact.
7 Deadly Sins of Innovation
While innovating your personality, remember these 7 critical sins so you don’t mess up more than necessary.
Pride and Overshooting
“King Gillette started with a single-blade safety razor. Then Gillette introduced a double-edge blade. Then a razor with two blades. Then a razor with three blades. Then a razor with five blades. What do you think comes next?” I asked the audience.
I then show a chart that appeared in The Economist a few years ago. The graph showed that if the technology followed a hyperbolic curve, we’d be looking at ten-plus blades in a few short years. I ask the audience members which of them is looking forward to their ten-blade razor. The question typically elicits a few chuckles. – The Little Black Book of Innovation
There is such thing as too smart and too funny. Not saying you can’t be smart or funny, but there is a time and place for everything. How you solve this problem is to understand your audience and give them what they want.
Sloth and Sweat
If you’re not sweating, you’re not innovating – Scott D. Anthony
It’s good to plan and understand what you may be up against, possible outcomes and such, but there is such thing as too much planning. After a while you just have to do it.
Gluttony and the Curse of Abundance
Too many options are horrible when you’re trying to innovate. Use constraints to curb you onto the right track. For example, you might want to stop telling old stories so you can come up with new ones if you want to improve your storytelling skills. Or you might want to limit how much you talk so you can focus on other areas of communication such as body language and tone if you’re trying to be a better conversationalist.
Lust and Bright, Shiny Objects
Once you get the ball rolling and start innovating your personality you’re going to want to do a million things at once. Put on the blinders and focus on a couple things at a time max so you can be excellent in those areas rather than a jack of all trades.
Envy and Sneetches with Stars
Summary of the Dr.Seuss book , The Sneetches and Other Stories:
…there are two types of Sneetches, the “plain-bellied Sneetches” and the “Sneetches with stars upon thars.” The Sneetches with stars generally consider themselves superior to the plain-bellied Sneetches. Then, oneday, a man with an only-in-Seuss-land moniker of Sylvester McMonkey McBean arrives with a machine that can put a star on Sneetch’s bellly. The plain-bellied Sneetches eagerly get the procedure. Then, of course the star isn’t special anymore, so the man creates a star removal machine. Hilarity ensues. At the end of the story, the Sneetches have much less money but much more wisdom. – The Little Black Book of Innovation
What does this have to do with innovating your personality?
It can be easy getting caught up with the idea of innovation that you lose sight of who you are. It’s great stealing elements from others, but to remain authentic you must keep the core of your personality intact ie. don’t pretend to like something if you don’t.
Wrath and Big Sticks
When you’re innovating, failure is definitely…an option. If you’re not getting the results you want, don’t put yourself down. By incorporating change you’re already making the right moves. You have to fail to see what doesn’t work.
Greed and Impatience for Growth
A lot of people when they start to innovate themselves, they get greedy. They look for shortcuts so they can get results quick. This could lead to do doing too much, too quick and lead to burnout. Or you might fall victim to some scam ie. get rich seminars. You must reward yourself for the behavior and not the results. It’s ok if you’re not seeing much improvement when you start out as long as you keep putting yourself out there and making the appropriate changes.
The path of becoming a more interesting person can be an arduous one, but manageable if you keep the following things in mind:
- understand your audience so you can create impact
- don’t allow your image of who you are stop you from innovating
- transformation is incremental work, it’ll take time, but don’t worry you’ll get there
- focus on rewarding behavior over results. It’s like teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime situation. If you keep on doing the right thing, you’ll see the changes you want to see.
It takes time and work and you might not even see any progress. But then you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come. Keep at it!