Not terribly long ago I was teaching a class of nurses how to use an electronic medical record software and as it was December, I decided to ask a different sort of ice-breaker question. There were 13 nurses in the class and my “get to know you” question to them was, “What do you want for Christmas?”
Going by the looks of horror on their faces, you would have thought I had asked them some bizarre question like “What is the secret code to activate the North Korean nuclear detonator?”
Not one of them could think of something they wanted for Christmas; they only could tell me what they were getting others. I don’t think they could share their obsessions with me; that’s what happens when you work too much and play too little.
This little story says a lot about healthcare and possibly working women that would be great topics for other articles, but today I want to share how important it is to know what you want….and what you’re currently obsessed with. Because your obsessions shape your personal and professional brand.
Think about it. Would you rather chat with your colleague who’s over-the-top obsessed with Game of Thrones, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and her mission trips to Haiti, or the one you don’t know much about except what she does professionally. Oh yeah, and that her kid is an honor student.
Plain beige or sparkly with pom poms?
Obsession chat is a way of standing out in an ultra-positive way and eases the path to meaningful connection.
It’s not that you have to be obsessed about everything in your work. It’s about bringing those things, like Schnauzer puppies, style crushes and food fetishes into your work. AND…in this time of extreme political divisiveness, talking obsessions is fun and safe, even for children.
The surprising thing is, you don’t have to share my obsession with Nespresso coffee to enjoy my raves about it. But if you happen to LOVE Nespresso (and the George Clooney ads), we are going to be BFF’s, I can tell already.
This leads us to the ways your obsessions build your personal brand.
Chatting Obsessions creates meaningful connection with others.
Talk about your obsessions to enjoy more stimulating conversations at parties and other networking events. Sharing what you’re into invites others to share the same details about themselves. And that is the beginning of a real relationship!
Let’s pretend you’re meeting me at the Chamber event (stifled yawn) and ask me what I would be doing if I weren’t at this event. I reply that I would be in my home office working on some writing projects.
You come back with, “Oh. You like writing? I’m totally obsessed with Alice in Wonderland. I re-read it at least four times a year and am collecting rare editions. Who are your favorite writers?”
Feel the level of energy rise as a humdrum conversation escalates to The Obsession Channel!
To detect the obsessions of others the trick is to listen for other people’s emotions and notice how they get unexpectedly excited about some topic of conversation. (Alternatively, you could just send them the link to this article.)
Your obsessions make you stand out in a highly-competitive market.
In the job market, there’s the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” question. Rather than start with your birthday and birth weight, how about “I’d like you to know I am obsessed with finding creative solutions to distribution problems, pleasantly surprising my customers, and the movie, La La Land….and that includes Ryan Gosling. [smile] I’ve seen it 7 times and can sing all the songs by heart.
On a bigger scale, think about Chip and Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper. They are clearly obsessed with remaking homes, each other, shiplap (whatever that is) rustic decor, using letters to personalize and white subway tile. Like these are in Every Single Home. And I can’t get enough. I even want to go visit Waco, Texas.
Your obsessions lead you in concept or product development.
Your obsessions actually shine light on your path to success, how cool is that?
At the February TSC summit, Libbie Summers shared her obsessions: adzuki beans (whatever those are,) Kate Spade balloon letter jewelry, and giraffes, among them. She suggested this exercise of writing down 10 specific obsessions every week and putting them into an envelope to look at later. I adapted this to writing them down in my journal, where I also write down my weekly goals.
As you look at your monthly lists you will find patterns that nudge you to create obsession-worthy content. My obsession with the movie La La Land led to a blog post, then a talk, then a personal branding challenge and now is becoming a book!
And in case you are wondering, I have a lifelong obsession with the lemon. Think lemon juice + olive oil salad dressing, lemon chicken and lemon cake. Lemoncello, lemon in sparkling water, lemon crab cakes, lemon shrimp, lemon poppy seed muffins, lemon cough drops (when needed), lemon cake, lemon squares, lemon on broccoli and lemon sodas with gin. Oh yeah, don’t forget lemon-scented candles, lemon-scented lotion and lemon lip balm. AND crumbled lemon sugar cookies from Grey Ghost Bakery!!!!
What are you obsessed with these days? Please share!!