The Art of Standing Out – How our brand name became our Northstar.
Spending time working with my executive coaches helped me find the Northstar in my brand name that was hiding in plain sight. My executive coach simply pointed to what was already there in the acronym for The Art of Standing Out ~TAOSO.
This post is a story of serendipity.
The Art of Standing OutRead the text to understand what was hiding in our business name and how once accepted it became our Northstar. Watch the video podcast to hear our thoughts on the power of Storytelling and why you should learn to harness your story powers.
In 2009 I launched my social media marketing agency and named it The Art of Inbound Marketing. I was very pleased with myself when I selected that name because I had always wanted a business with my name on the masthead. Utilizing the Art of, satisfied that itch and yes, I thought I was clever using the play on words – The Art of. However, unbeknownst to me, serendipity had intervened on my behalf and bestowed “The Art of” moniker onto me and my business for a reason.
In 2014, in order to provide a more end to end suite of solutions to the customers I serve, I added a second line of business to my practice. The new line of business became The Art of Standing Out focuses on using human-centered design and brand storytelling to create compelling brand strategies. With a solid brand strategy, our clients are able to optimize their marketing which allows them to maximize sales performance.
In 2015 something almost magical happened. One day while working on a proposal and looking at the acronym TAOSO, which represents the brand name The Art of Standing Out, I realized the first three characters make the word TAO. Taoism also spelled Daoism has shaped Chinese life for more than 2,000 years. The central principle of the TAO philosophy is everything is better when it works in harmony with everything else in the world. Merriam Webster says the TAO is the art or skill of doing something in harmony with the essential nature of the thing.
What struck me about my discovery was the intention of the word TAO was, in fact, consistent with my intention for my business. My business practices are focused on helping my clients establish alignment and harmony between the following:
- What they do
- Why they do it
- Who they do it for
- How their clients are changed after they acquire their products or service.
Initially, I thought, well that’s nice but you can not inject Chinese philosophy into your brand story. I asked myself who aside from me, a person with experience practicing Tai Chi (which is intrinsically connected to Taoist/Daoist philosophy). I was certain people would not get it, the whole idea would be a bridge too far for my clients to cross, the brand would be rejected as being too frou-frou.
This is where my executive coach enters to help me realize I had a blind spot when looking at my brand name. My executive coach shined a light on the opportunity my brand name had delivered to me, the challenge she presented was would I embrace the guiding light that shone brightly from the name #TAOSO?
Then, one day soon thereafter, I sat down with a perfect cup of coffee to read a book by Elizabeth Gilbert titled Big Magic. In her book, she wrote, and I paraphrase – As an artist, there are times when you have a great idea, perhaps it’s a great treatment for a book. You work on the book and then one day you set it aside and begin work on something else. Elizabeth says that the Muse is always watching the artist at work. When the work is going well the job of the muse is to provide a constant flow of inspiration. However, when the artist falters and falls into inactivity for far too long, the muse becomes anxious, believing the idea will not come into existence. So as guardian of great ideas and provider of inspiration the Muse moves to take your idea from you and find someone else who is ready to embrace the idea. The Muse begins looking for someone else, someone truly ready to use the idea and take persistent action. The muse moves to find someone committed to breathe life into that great idea.
So, after reading that passage in that book. I knew I was faced with a choice. Embrace the serendipity and embrace the true nature of the work I do, why I do it. My mission is to encourage businesses and business pros to work toward establishing strategic alignment between every element of their internal operations with the intent to bring the business into alignment with their external business partners, the community of fans and of course their clients.
For me, this became a big part of my evolution. Ii went from a business with the intention to make money and transformed into a business unabashedly committed to and proud of liberating this idea of The Art of was more than a clever play on my name but an integral piece of the why I do what I do and how we do it. With this realization, my brand became more complete. The intention puzzle was now clearly in focus. I now proudly allow the idea of TAO to drive our focus on helping our clients achieve alignment and harmony in all things related to their business. TAO has become central to our philosophy, our brand strategy and serves as a constant great reminder of what the work we do is all about.
And so the story goes, once upon a time, I was happy because I’d found a clever way to incorporate my name into my brand. Adding my name to my brand name, was my ego talking seeking ego gratification.
Today my perspective is completely different. These three letters, TAO when coupled with our embrace of Human Centered Design function as our twin NorthStars, guiding our business intention and interactions with the people and businesses we’ve built The Art of Standing Out to serve.
I came close to changing my business names to more something more vanilla. Now I am very glad I didn’t. The acronym TAO remains an integral part of our brand name and holds an esteemed position in our brand lore.
Now about the video of my conversation with interviewer Jonathan Tripp (attached above).
About 12 months ago, I enjoyed the pleasure of talking with the host of Jonathan Tripp Live, Jonathan Tripp. During our conversation, we talked about many things yet we always seemed to circle back to, how storytelling empowers Leaders to LEAD.
Jonathan is a great interviewer and asked thoughtful questions. There is a point during the interview where you will hear a long pause as I stop to process how to answer one of his questions. Great questions are a signature of what makes a great interviewer and Jonathan is a great interviewer.
Hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed the conversation.
So, it’s time to go get your favorite beverage, and head over to that comfortable chair to tune into our video podcast. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed the thought-provoking conversation.
Our story illustrates how each of us has blind spots preventing us from seeing, and engaging with awesome opportunities. Executive coaching works like an x-ray machine, illuminating things that are there yet you can neither see nor sense.
We are here to serve as your executive coach when we will be ready when you are. Give us a call, we would love to hear from you.