By Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster
Who are our clients? People often ask us.
In a sentence, they are awake achievers.
But there’s so much beneath, between, around and behind that descriptor.
On the surface, our clients often look like typical practitioners, business badasses ready to do something different, entrepreneurs taking pioneer-level risks.
But our clients are so much more than that. They are often skeptics, seekers of truth, agitators of status quo – finally shaking free the chains of corporate life.
But they all carry within them the seeds of deceit sown by the Industrial Age approach to business that focused on assembly-line productivity, office-bound ascension and obsession with metrics – all of which has caused insecurity, anxiety and unease.
They’ve also been subtly and powerfully made to believe their business endeavors are separate from the endeavors of their soul. That their mission is something they ought to pursue apart from their business, maybe after they are “successful.”
Essentially, they believe one of the greatest and most commonly believed lies of humanity — that we are separate from ourselves in ways that cannot be violated. Our clients have relied on this system of separation to keep their soul at home and their mind at work — but they also feel the leaks in the dam. Some of them are dealing with large fractures.
As successful people in business, our clients have also been the recipients of dump truck loads of marketing advice.
Try Facebook ads! Make more videos. You’re not working with Facebook pixels?
Most of this tactically obsessed advice is bull honky.
On branding, they’ve been told that brand is something you do after your get your business processes in place.
They’ve been told to ignore or manage their feelings; to not trust their hearts. That their hearts have no place in the business.
All of this outside input often produces a deep sense of unease and disconnect. They secretly and erroneously return to the idea they only made it this far with their businesses due to sheer luck and ignorant persistence.
Fighting with these inner pressures and the everyday outer pressures of running a business has drained them, and they’ve begun to look for alternatives to the standard approach of American business triage: work harder, make more money and ignore your feelings.
When our clients find us, the first thing we do is listen. We hold up a mirror showing them that they are much further along than they realized — even if they are fairly new at being an entrepreneur. They have made this progress because despite all the struggle, underneath it all, they know their hearts and they want to be great — on their own terms.
In their own way, they have recognized their own dividedness and are seeking to reconnect with themselves in a more authentic way.
Just like preparing a field for a new crop, there needs to be a burning away; removing the rocks of doubt; a re-cultivation of the heart’s soil. This often involves helping them dismantle false narratives and bullshit ideas of what being a leader is, what going to market looks like and dissolving 20th century marketing definitions and theory.
The greatest among these outdated and eroded ideas is the constructed separation between business and soul.
Here’s the truth, told about in six key statements:
Your personal mission is deeply and easily connected to the mission of your business, if you take the time and make the space to explore the connection.
Who you are at work is who you are at home is who you are on the Little League field with your children.
Your most deeply held beliefs are the same beliefs that inform your business strategy, your culture and your brand.
The standards by which you live your life are the same standards that become the expected habits of your team and the same driving principles as your core audience.
The words you use to talk about your business are the most important part of your brand and marketing strategy and when you can use them every day with joy in your heart they spread the experience of your brand far and wide.
Your mission, your beliefs, your gifts, your business, your purpose are all the same thing. They are this thing we call a brand. Your brand is not some outside construct or image but the full and beautiful manifestation of you.
When these realities become apparent in our work, our clients typically have a version of the same emotion: relief. Once the rush of relief fades, they feel a renewed sense of confidence, energy and clarity.
Suddenly, the discipline of marketing seems less overwhelming. The growth path of their work emerges in a very distinct way.
And, most importantly to us, the divide between their heart and the important work of their business is healed.
Emily Soccorsy + Justin Foster are cofounders of the intrinsic branding practice known as Root + River. Together with their defiantly different clients, they uncover then articulate the foundational elements of the brand. Then, they provide brand strategy and brand coaching as the brand is rolled out internally and externally. Obsessive about language and differentiation, Emily + Justin are also authors and speakers. Follow @rootandriver @fosterthinking and @emilyatlarge.