When I started out in this industry at the tender age of 13, I often tried to project a more sophisticated image of myself than was true. I wanted to be older as I knew it would come with more respect and a more ready audience.
As I grew up, I still focused hard on projecting the best 'business' attitude that I could. But then something clicked in me - I think because I saw so many people working so hard just to please the general masses rather than working hard on what they loved.
As a teenager, many of us learn to be ourselves and to embrace the fact that we're either liked, or disliked, and both is okay. Yet when it comes to business we throw this life lesson and many others out the window as if it's an entirely different realm or dimension.
This world is all people trying to do well, keep themselves happy, and get out hopefully having made a difference. The people we meet in business, often become friends. So the real question is: what's the correct way to behave?
There is no 'correct' behaviour in life. Yes, there is behaviour that is forbidden with good reason, but ultimately we have amazing freedom with how we choose to behave in our own lives, so why do we restrict it in our work?
You are what you eat. Embracing this means that you attract clients similar to your own personality, that you mesh and get on better with and honestly, would be rather working with.
The most valuable lesson I learnt from this realisation was that, just because this is work, it doesn't mean I have to hold back who I am. I shouldn't have to project a difference version of myself to please anyone.
Recently I worked on a project with my good friends, the guys at Simple as Milk. They are always completely themselves with clients and just let go, meaning our shared client now jokingly calls me 'sexy'. It's funny, it's fun, and it's been one of the most enjoyable client projects I've ever worked on. We can all have a laugh while still all respecting one another too.
I feel that now I have more time to focus on actually doing the work, as I'm not wasting my time crafting a version of myself to project. In turn, the extra time results in better work which brings in more good clients.
Embrace who you are. While your design is what you're selling, your personality, and what you can do to help clients with it, is your USP.
[PLUG] By the way James Seymour-Lock is talking about Confidence Is Sexy at my conference, HybridConf, where he'll be talking about this and other such stuff more in depth. You should go see him.