I do not fit into a box and neither should you.
Why? I'll get to that.
First, let's address the Covid-19 crisis.
Like many of you reading, my income went to $0 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. However, unlike many, I'm ok with it.
Finding this head space wasn't easy (and still isn't) - it requires effort.
I had to tap into (& regularly reaffirm) two core beliefs:
1) Things will work out
...and if they don't work out - I have a head on my shoulders and will find a way forward.
2) What a gift - TIME!
Time with my family and time to step back to re-evaluate where I sit as a professional.
USING THIS TIME
For quite some time (pun intended) I've been facing a challenging task. How do I brand myself?
I am an Olympian, broadcaster, speaker, photographer, painter...
I felt like I was facing the 'Too-Many-Jams' principle studied by Columbia University professor, Sheena Iyengar in 1995. This study showed that people, when given lots of jam options, were crippled by it. They were more likely to buy jam from a booth with far fewer options. Too much choice cripples people.
The old adage, 'keep-it-simple-stupid' kept repeating itself in my head.
For a while, I tried to simplify my brand as a Storyteller. Whether through the spoken word, photography, or painting. However, that generally confused people.
"What does that mean?...Storyteller"
I expected my life to naturally streamline as I continued to professionally explore these different facets within my skillset. However, it only got more complicated as I became stronger and more experienced in the different fields.
Before I knew it, my two facets of work began to overlap.
My work as a photographer became intricately linked to my work as a broadcaster and today, my photography is branching into conferences & teaching.
I stopped and asked myself, "should I venture less, explored less, and developed fewer skills to accommodate my 'audience'?
I've decided - NO way. My clients and audiences are SMARTER THAN THAT.
EMBRACING THE QUIRK
Since I was young, I was talented in quirky ways.
I was never the best at anything, but I was really good at almost everything (except spelling...it continues to be my kryptonite). So, I was pulled out of 'normal-school' to attend an experimental education system for gifted learners. A class of transplanted nerds within an inner-city school, people were nervous. Yet, I was voted valedictorian by my peers and was captain on several sports teams. Even then, I didn't fit into a box.
When I began high school, a guidance councillor asked me what I wanted to do/be when I grew up. I replied, "I want to ski race and be a photographer." He got angry, and said, "No. Leaves those professions to the stupid kids."
I'm glad I didn't listen.
So, whether I was racing down mountains at 140km/h, or now working as a broadcaster hosting the Olympic Games or the Calgary Stampede, or being the MC at EY entrepreneurs of the year, or seeing my paintings hang in a gallery, or finding myself photographing the Royals, I will continue to resist fitting into anyone's proverbial box.
I plan to continue moving forward with fearless ambition in several directions.
A message to my audience and clients:
THANK YOU for embracing me and for being willing to face 'my-many-jams' with courage and enough conviction to hire me.
In conclusion, the gift of time during isolation has allowed me to step back and proactively choose the path I want to foster moving forward.
I'm now happy I don't fit into a box and I believe others will benefit from similar thinking.
Having a divers set of skills has two major advantages:
1) It gives you resiliency in this worlds' every changing markets
2) You're better able to see opportunities that others may miss
To learn more about how I can help you and your team take on multiple challenges with fearless ambition, please reach out.