Your business probably seems like many others. There are billyuns and billyuns of therapists, consultants, retailers, and healers. Yet, in order to make an impact and deeper connection with customers that is so necessary for a sustainable business, you need to distinguish yourself.
However, just ‘finding your voice’ and ‘developing your uniqueness’ aren’t often helpful strategies. Your voice may be unique, but who’s going to listen to it?
I think we better visit the Cookie Grandma.
A depression-era blue metal bowl.
In my office I have a depression-era blue metal bowl with a lid, and a white floral decorative pattern on it. My parents gave it to me. “It was the Cookie Grandma’s,” they told me.
The Cookie Grandma was my father’s grandmother, and I have very few memories of her. But I do remember the bowl, and the cookies.
I took to calling her the Cookie Grandma because whenever we visited her, she had a plate of cookies out for me- and I was at an age when cookies were a big priority.
Grandparents do more than just spoil grandchildren.
The more I’ve learned about human growth and development, the more I’m awed by how big an impact family lineage has on us. It not only informs our genetics, and much of our personality, but it provides a platform for us to stand on.
In a way that’s hard to express in words, I’ve felt how important family is in creating a platform for who we are. A platform puts solid ground under your feet. The Cookie Grandmas in your family have helped to define the platform of who you are, and where you are standing. This platform helps you deal with everything that comes to you.
Guess what? Your business needs a platform for all the same reasons.
What is your business lineage?
Unique power and truth comes from a lineage. For instance, in Heart of Business we stand in two lineages. One lineage has to do with all the amazing people we’ve learned business from: Robert Middleton, Sean D’Souza, my parents and grandparents, Paul Hawken, Jim Collins, Seth Godin, George Lakoff, and many, many others.
The other lineage is the spiritual tradition of Sufism. As impressive as the business lineage is, Sufism has a continuous 1500 years of masters teaching students. And, before that, another 3500 years of spiritual teachings.
That is one heck of a platform. When I talk about generosity in marketing because it feels good, that’s one thing. When I share teachings from business gurus about the effectiveness of generosity in marketing, that takes it up another level.
But, when I talk about the spiritual source of the Divine Quality of Generosity, and how our beings receive and express the power of Generosity, there is an undeniable depth of truth that comes through.
Here’s comes Grandma with the cookies.
Grandma, and especially Great-Grandma, is usually retired. She has the time, and space to bring you goodies, like cookies.
The power, experience, and wisdom of your platform is your business’ Cookie Grandma. It draws people to you, and gives you the cookies of success that your business wants.
But, there are just so many platforms… where’s my uniqueness?
You’re right, you do need uniqueness. Many people try to for uniqueness in their business by ‘creating’ a unique platform, and it doesn’t work. The platform brings strength, confidence, clarity, wisdom, and cookies. But not uniqueness.
Uniqueness bubbles out of the alchemy that happens from blending platforms and expressing them through your own personality.
Example: Robert Pirsig, best-selling author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, blended motorcycle maintenance with Zen and expressed it through his own personality. Motorcycle maintenance isn’t unique. Neither is Zen. But the two together, through Robert, is unique.
Example: Jim Collins, best-selling author of business book Good to Great, blended the hallowed tradition of stringent academic research with developing large corporations, and expressed it through his own personal style of reporting and story-telling.
Example: Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, globally-known civil rights activist, blended the platform of Christian teachings with the non-violent teachings of Monhandas Gandhi, and expressed it through his own style of preaching and speaking.
None of these leaders and teachers depended on themselves for the power of what they were bringing- their platforms and lineages provided that.
What they did do was combine platforms, and express them in a unique way. And impacted millions of people.
Hmmm… has this got you thinking? Well, the Cookie Grandma has her plate of cookies out. Grab one, and keep reading.
Keys to Finding Your Unique Platform
o Pick Platform Number One
Who is someone you’ve learned from? Whose knowledge and experience are you leaning into? Embrace and acknowledge that person. Accept that person as someone in your ‘lineage.’ In some very real way, this person is a grandparent to your business.
o Pick Platform Number Two
My personal prejudice is to use a spiritual or wisdom tradition for one of the platforms, because they can be so deep and profound. The teachings one finds in Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sufism, Buddhism, etc, etc, can just rock your world.
But, if you aren’t drawn in that direction, you can also pick an expert from a completely different field. Let’s say your first platform was a business guru. And then, what if you picked an art teacher as your second platform? Or a chef? Or a master gardener?
The lessons you learn in cooking, or gardening, or sculpting, can inform your business knowledge to a tremendous degree, and can bring fresh insights.
o Make sure both platforms are alive for you.
If both platforms aren’t areas or people that you have an active, creative interest, you run the risk of your platform sounding ‘gimicky,’ because it’s missing the groundedness of your own experience and learning.
If you love gardening, however, I bet there are all kinds of lessons from how certain plants support or hinder each other in a garden bed that have implications in, say, teamwork in large organizations.
o Bring it through you.
Your heart has a unique Jewel. You also have a unique personality. Find permission in your own heart to express what you learn from your platforms in your words, in your own ways.
Sometimes, especially with spiritual traditions, it can seem sacrosanct to bring humor, or your own ‘plain talk’ into the mix. But, it’s not. That’s the aliveness.
Remember, the power and success of your business needs to rest and grow through the wisdom and experience of others. But it will only bloom through your own uniqueness. Mix those together, and you’re unstoppable.