Century Interactive is on the 7th floor of a cool office building in Dallas, TX. To our right, as we look out, is Downtown Dallas. To our left, and no more than a pitching wedge away, is a bustling Whole Foods. It’s a great spot for a high end grocery store and they do really well. Whole Foods is smart. Really smart.
They offer hands on events at the store. These fun interactive sessions like cooking classes, baking classes, sit down meals, barbeque skills sessions, and wine tastings. A couple months ago, I forked over $40 for myself and a date to participate in a wine tasting class. It was fun, informative, and we bought a couple bottles to take home.
Here’s why Whole Foods is smart: They aren’t getting rich from my $40 to attend the class and while they’re happy I purchased on the spot, that’s not the end game. The end game is for me to leave the class feeling like a “Wine Guy.” I’m a guy who drinks wine. I’m the wine drinker in my group of friends. I’m the guy who knows a little about wine. I’m the guy who can recommend wine. Ultimately….I’m the guy who shops at Whole Foods for wine.
Quite literally, I walk to Whole Foods after a long day to grab a decent bottle of wine and fresh food. Note that I’m not a rich fancy wine connoisseur. My beer of choice is Miller Lite and I have no shame in grabbing Chipotle three days in a row. However, my trips to Whole Foods are routine. They don’t just occur on work days when location proves convenient. I drive past other grocery and liquor stores to get there.
What has Whole Foods done?
They have given me a persona. Along with brother, son, friend, and college football fanatic, my “Wine Guy” persona is important to me and it keeps me coming back for more.
Neuroscientists recognize that humans create these personas in order to build a desired self-image. They help us understand the world. They help us understand each other. They motivate us. Ask yourself, what is your professional persona?
I recently read the book How to be a High School Superstar by Cal Newport. It’s a little bizarre that a grown man with no kids read a book about how high schoolers can get into the best colleges, but there was big picture reason. Newport sees a trend where students with average grades are getting into these top tier schools because they have a persona.
These students identify a passion, become an expert, and develop a persona. They don’t sign up for every single academic honor society and pointless club. That model has lost its luster. Instead they become heavily involved in things like marine biology, work to find alternative energy, or start small tech companies. Their genuine interests create personas. They have fascinating stories to tell curious college admissions counselors. They have a professional persona before they can buy cigarettes.
We can learn a lot from these young superstars. I again ask you, what’s your professional persona?
Are you THE go to person for at your dealership, company, or in the industry? If you left your position today, what would the work environment instantly lose and miss greatly? What story will you have to tell in your next job interview?
Personas are all around us. Some are more serious than others. Some happen naturally. Some occur over time. All take a little effort and creativity. Your persona gives your professional life personality and value. Selfishly, it makes you irreplaceable. It gives you a personal brand. Not just a stereotype, but a legitimate actionable work role and function:
– The person who is a whiz at reputation management
– The person who handles all the marketing vendor relationships
– The person who completely owns a certain big time client relationship
– The person who consistently owns and rocks phone ups
– The person who hits the outbound phones are harder than anyone else
– The person who organizes office happy hours or company outings
– The person who is active in the online automotive community
Look around our industry. Maybe without even realizing it, intelligent people and companies work hard to create personas:
- Jeff Kershner = DealerRefresh.
- Alex Snyder and Joe Pistell are Mr. Product
- Jerry Thibeau is THE Phone Ninja.
- Ryan Thompson and Mitch Gallant are our Friends to the North
- Malinda Terreri is THE newsletter resource
- Ryan Leslie OWNS reputation management
I ask you again, what’s your professional persona?
Feel free to ad to my list industry professional personas in the comments.