In early April our team went away to Chattanooga for our twice-a-year Vision Quest excursion. In the planning of one of my favorite parts of the year, I, of course, started working on how I would introduce the focus and vision of our time together. In thinking about introductions, I thought about how we introduce ourselves.
Think about the last time you introduced yourself to someone – maybe at a party, a networking event, or over coffee. Like me, you probably said, “Hi, I’m ______. I work at ______.” Then maybe you got hung up on what to say next. Don’t worry, I’m not judging, I’m just as guilty as you are of not doing myself justice in an introduction and limiting that introduction to my name and my profession.
I’m self-aware to know that my name and my career are not what defines me. It’s my values, my hobbies, my passions, and my unique characteristics. But let’s face it, talking about ourselves is not easy (at all). Have you tried writing your own bio without feeling like a douche by the end of the first paragraph? Me neither.
So, to open Vision Quest, I had everyone on the team go around and introduce themselves as if we’d never met them (for the record, they did really well – way better than my example above) – but then, I went around and introduced each of them, one by one. Here’s what I said:
This is Lesley Smith. Lesley’s title here at Proof has always been a little ambiguous, and somehow it works. Lesley’s an excellent writer and strategist, and she’s always willing to support everyone in absolutely any way possible. More importantly, she’s just a flat-out good person. When I hired her, there wasn’t a “need,” but I knew I needed to add her to the team. All of that, and she corrects my uses of “it’s and “its.”
This is Kristin Cardo. Kristin’s title is project manager but it’s just a title. She’s invested in the overall growth of Proof both internally and in moving us toward the clients we want to be working with. She’s honest and direct – we can agree, disagree, and always end a conversation feeling confident on what the next step is. She’s warm, smiles a ton, and makes everyone else feel heard and respected.
This is Blake Stratton. Blake deeply cares about every conversation. While he keeps his eyes open for opportunities for us to grow, he never makes anyone feel like he’s already thinking about the next meeting. In other words, he’s fully present. From a client perspective, he’s the kind of guy you want to find a way to work with, even if it doesn’t really make sense – because you know he cares. Also, he laughs at most of my jokes when no one else does.
This is Caroline Fox. Caroline is an extremely talented designer and maintains an aura of positivity through everything she does. When it comes to selling her work, you believe what she says because it comes from a place of love and actually giving a damn about what she’s putting in front of you.
This is Jess Manner. Jess is an experienced, talented designer – but more importantly, she’s thoughtful. When she speaks, you listen. She always makes eye contact and she’s passionate about finding the intersection of form and function (in other words, she’s not in the business of simply making things “look good”). She’s awesome at giving feedback and she’s really good at pulling feedback out of you, even if you think it might be stupid.
This is Jocelyn Young. You will never, ever hear Jocelyn complain about anything. Her positivity shines through in everything she does. She’s always willing to support the person next to her in any way that she can. She’s focused, extremely organized, and even though she’s never heard an R. Kelly song (what?!) she’s a huge asset to our team, and any team she finds herself a part of.
A team – your team – is made up of people with unique characteristics, values, passions, and ideas.
Aside from stroking everyone’s ego for a few minutes (nothing wrong with that), the point of this exercise was for me, and for all of us, to recognize that we’re more than our work. We’re more than a name and a career. Through our unique personalities and passions, we come together in a Captain Planet-esque team of awesomeness.
We’re all here for a reason. Everyone on your team is there for a reason. It’s very easy to lose sight of this through the day-to-day (part of the reason we started Vision Quest-ing in the first place). Today, tomorrow, or sometime in the near future, I’d recommend running through a similar exercise with your team. Introduce yourself. Introduce someone else. Define the unique value everyone brings to the table.
Harnessing those attributes is how you move from good to great in everything you do.