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There’s one thing that’s allowed us to survive: the desire for community.
For all of the human race’s existence, we’ve had the natural instinct to cling to each other to keep safe, well-fed and sheltered.
Fast forward to today, and this natural instinct continues to flourish within each of us. We no longer lean on each other so directly to find food or shelter, so our desire to community shows itself in different ways.
People who seek learning go to conferences.
People who seek like-mindedness join mastermind groups.
People who seek numbness hang out at bars and clubs.
People who seek experiences explore new places in groups.
We each turn our desire for community into something different, depending on why we want to belong.
As the next step in my month-long Redesign Challenge, I must figure out:
Who will I solve problems for?
The word “belonging” comes from the Old English word “gelang”, which means “to be together with.” Each of us chooses communities to belong to, or who we want to be together with.
In essence, I must choose that for myself — and I’ll tell you why.
Why Does Belonging Matter?
The biggest mistake I’ve made over the past few years is serving people that don’t fit with my personality and my mission. Sure, my projects seem stellar from the outside, but the inside truth is that I haven’t feel too fulfilled. At times, I’ve even felt cheated and bruised.
One of my favorite quotes illustrates this perfectly:
“Home is not pretentious. You don’t get dressed up or put on airs to be home.”
— Danny Meyer
Home is what I want my life and my work to feel like — to better serve my emotions and my strategy.
Serving people who are drastically different from you is emotionally draining.
This may sound a bit corny and soft because business is just business, right? Wrong.
Let’s go through a few examples to see how this works in real life.
Take Richard Branson, for example.
All of Branson’s projects share a quirky and adventurous vibe, matching his personality. He puts service and fun at the forefront of his projects’ missions. As a result, Branson attracts that kind of consumer, too — the kind of consumer that meshes well with this rock’n'roll outlook.
His customers love his services because they share his approach, his beliefs, his adventurousness.
But Richard Branson is a billionaire, isn’t he? He’s not so easy to relate to, so let’s dissect someone closer to our ranks. (Unless you’re a billionaire like Branson, which, well, lucky you.)
Enter one of my favorite artists, Michelle Armas.
I found Michelle through a random wedding blog when I was prepping for my big day with JJ. I know nothing about art and art history, but I do know what I like and don’t like — and I LOVE Michelle’s work.
A few years after I found her, I’ve purchased one of her pieces for my home office, and I still follow her blog religiously.
But it’s not just her art that I love.
Reading Michelle’s blog, I’ve kind of gotten a glimpse into her personality and work routines. She posts about her life, the process of renovating her studio, her travels with her husband, and more. My favorite part is just how transparent she is in her posts.
When she travels to Europe, she tells her customers they’re going to have to wait. She’ll be back in a few weeks to ship their orders.
Her customers love her artwork, but they also love her for who she is. They’re okay with her decisions because they support her through and through — even when it means waiting weeks to get their orders in the mail.
All for the love of her art.
(Michelle’s beautiful art will land her in the billionaire’s club soon, you’ll see.)
How Do We Find the Right Fit?
What worked for Richard Branson and Michelle Armas is hopefully what will work for me — and what will for you, as well.
What I found is that the process of answering this question — who do you want to solve problems for? — requires two things:
- analyzing yourself
- analyzing your audiences
This past week, I’ve spent more hours than is probably healthy this weekend analyzing myself and my audiences.
In my last post, I walked through the entire process of finding out what problems I want to solve and came up some general solutions.
Problem #1: People aren’t aware their skills / experiences could be their job
➜ Solution = Provide ways to turn skills / experiences into solopreneurship
Problem #2: Businesses need a creative mix of tech / marketing to delight their existing and potential audiences
➜ Solution = Help make online experiences engaging and improve profit
The third element — the customer — was always what I messed up. Now, I think I’ve figured it out.
When I first started blogging, I never imagined it would turn into a wonderful community of people from around the world who want to live awesomely. I was just putting my words on the screen.
When I first started learning about HTML and web design, I never imagined I’d end up starting a company that would serve dozens of companies and millions of users. I was just a techie messing around with technology.
Naturally, I thought these two projects were completely separate. Big mistake!
On one hand, I serve people who want to become entrepreneurs and follow their dreams. On the other hand, I serve big companies that want design and marketing help.
So, which audience will I choose — the about-to-be-preneurs or the big businesses? Which community will I join? Which side of my personality will I let shine through, once and for all?
I’ll give you a hint:
Serving an audience we are similar to — and enjoy — is the surest path to creative fulfillment.
More on this in a few days… Take a guess in the comments in the meantime. I’d love to hear your ideas.
Wishing you awesomeness from Managua!