I was faced with a challenge: Which subject line would I use in that first ShoeFitts email communication? I had two options—was I over thinking things?—and needed to choose a direction. This was a newsletter announcement letter being sent to thousands of people. Let’s face it: It’s easy to offer up the expected. Or, I could get courageous and step outside of my comfort level. Granted, the success of my bottom line wasn’t hinging on that initial contact, but I knew my words would determine the voice for all future communications and it would set the stage for my relationship with my valued newsletter readers. These were people that receive hundreds of emails a day regarding ERISA, fees, and fiduciary and retirement readiness. Certainly important words, but other people already had those covered. What are my words? The strategies I’ve developed, my creativity, and the words I’ve built around that are what I sell. Was I willing to walk my talk?
One of my passions is the art of fusing glass. I’m fascinated by the science of combining glass and heat to create beautiful patterns shaped into bowls and plates. (I love it so much that I have a studio in my garage.) When I was first learning this craft, I didn’t share my creations with others. Over time, as my confidence grew, I would display pieces on my desk. Colleagues and friends were impressed and expressed interest in purchasing them.
A friend offered to have a showing for me in her home. Placing all of my glasswork on her tables, watching people pick them up, inspect them, set them down and move on to another piece, was one of the strangest feelings I’ve ever had. I couldn’t articulate the feeling until recently. Now I know what that foreign emotion was: I felt vulnerable. My art, my work, my creativity was now center stage to a crowd of strangers. As I wrestled with this first ShoeFitts email, the feeling had resurfaced. My words, my art, and my efforts were now on display for a much larger audience.
When I decided to launch a business, I knew that I would do things differently than others in the industry. I would create a place where organizations would come to have a unique, customized experience. ShoeFitts would be for the people who were ready to stand out. Yet, with my first email, was I playing it safe? I almost picked boring over brave. I almost fell prey to safe. Thankfully, I have a friend who encouraged me to stay true to my art. Share it as it was written; step up and be noticed in my own right. To acknowledge that yes, there will be people who will scan my content, set it down, and move on, but many others will read and become a part of this ongoing art project of mine.
Who is the person in your life that helps you advance closer to the edge? Have you grappled with the fear of sharing your art? Do you suppress a creative part of yourself because of the expectations of your career in financial services?