Every person in business dedicated to being accomplished at what they do, has hidden genius.
In the early days of my company, one of the largest magazine printing companies in the Midwest hired me to help them create new sales letters. But as the deadline approached, my biggest success was about to become my biggest failure.
The owners told me that everything I needed to know lived in the head of a 30-year sales veteran and sales lead—he knew everything...
...But it just seemed no matter what question I asked about their sales process or differentiation, I got sales clichés like, well, it just all comes down to service, and well, we put the customer first, and, it just depends on what they need. I usually have the talent to pull out the story when this happens, but I wasn’t making a breakthrough.
It all just came down to service, he would say, like a mantra.
On edge, with only two days left to write the letters, I was about to fail my biggest client to date. At some point, I realized that his vast knowledge came out under a certain condition: he needed to appear to his customers as an unbiased source of service. It was important he didn’t appear to have step-by-step service recommendations that might lead to customers purchasing things they weren’t ready for, or perhaps didn’t need. He lived in the integrity sales camp: He provided service solutions only when the problem came up.
Then, I made a breakthrough. I came up with a question, a Hail Mary really, designed to talk about the results of all of his hard work as a whole:
“Have you ever taken a small-time publisher having little or no success, one who was working out of their garage and did you help them become millionaires, and did their success make you jealous?”
“Yeah, ok, that happened,” he said.
“We made a publisher famous, we gave him everything and he didn’t even say thank you,” he said.
“What did you do for them?”
“I’ll tell you what we did…”
Of course I was ready to write this down. This was the vein of gold I was hunting for my letters:
· We created a real mission and vision for that publication
· We ensured there was a consistent content plan
· An advertising plan
· A competitive review
· A check list for their business plan which I personally oversaw
The right graphic design support to ensure minimal issues with files
· We did a distribution plan to make sure that they only printed the amounts of issues they need in a certain territory so they didn’t blow their budget and had money for the next run
The door opened for a new way to innovatively partner with his customers: A content pillar educating buyers on How to Become a Successful Publisher.
What he had said in the beginning was right: it did all come down to service. Great service was what motivated him personally. Providing great service was thought of as something you improvised instead of organized. Yet, his true, deeper motivations, were to provide the best service possible.
- Organizing his industry knowledge, central to the power of his service, gave him a linear series of steps to help him understand the aggregate sum of his successes, and a way for the team to repeat those successes.
- This tangible list of his best work and successes gave him a blueprint to follow based on what engages him to do great work.
- Seeing his industry knowledge and acts of service as a tangible list gave him the freedom to think about what emotional goals are important to his customers. He was organized and now able to offer education to help them reach that goal.
This list of gold capabilities gave the company the basis for a unique and differentiated way to partner with their buyers with a partnership innovation.
It gave the company the window into the key cultural, emotional, and psychological goals that resonate the most with the buyer. The partnership innovation potential became How to be a Great Publisher, a new world of SEO-building, and sales lead generating, education power.
Buyers may buy only one or a few of this printer’s capabilities. But what they buy is the bigger story, the bigger cultural context that emotionally appeals to them, the potential to bring meaningful ideas to others as a publisher.
My interviews of multitudes of C-Suite executives over a 10-year period have shown me that hidden genius is at the heart of successful people and successful companies. These in-depth, private interviews have also revealed that not all knowledge is knowable at one time. New marketing, new initiatives, higher ROI, is the ability to put to work the deeper knowledge you have on an emotional level. Organized knowledge, made repeatable in a system, is what keeps the best of what you know working to keep you engaged, as you engage others.
What’s your hidden genius?
Your hidden genius is your specialized know-how, the stuff you earned during your trials by fire, by drinking from a fire hose. It’s when you stood up to fire off rebuttals and maybe upon a rare occasion, almost got fired. Your hidden genius is what you use to guide others to new worlds of possibility.
Your hidden genius is your insights into your clients’ psychology—into the motivations at the heart of their hopes, dreams, and fears. It’s all the knowledge you use as the foundation for new ideas that help them succeed. Your hidden genius is unique to your perspective. It’s your desire to be knowledgeable; it’s your resulting universe of knowledge.
From the beginning, your hidden genius is built upon what motivates you to do great work.
Oh, genius, why do you hide?
The pressurized business world demands action. Taking the time to inventory, to reverse engineer your best work, to discover the important patterns where you injected knowledge, takes thought. And precious time.
Your genius is hidden because of the pressure the business world demands of us to get to the point, to keep it simple, to distill benefits and value down to their most transportable form. Years of experience are shrunk in the marketing wash down to a generic, one-size-fits-all explanation.
It’s no mystery why this happens. Business culture is hardwired for quick transactions. Something as vast as our entire of scope of knowledge is complex and lacks an inventory. We get our phobia of complexity from business leaders who have disdain for anything that might muddy up the path to a quick exchange. Fast exchanges get the credit for what grows the profit stack. And we pick up on that pressure, literally and unconsciously.
And as a result, our knowledge used to help others succeed faces the danger of living in a random lottery, rather than a repeatable and replicable system.
Organize your genius, how?
Each of your successes has something you did at a certain time governed by a way of thinking unique to you.
And it was rewarded.
Each success grew larger from a slowly rolling snow ball of conditions, into a weighty body of knowledge. It began as an intuition or hunch. Your knowledge grew into an unconscious behavior then became a sure-fire action. That action didn’t need explaining, not to anyone. Not to yourself. That’s your unique knowledge at work.
The first key to organizing your genius is to:
Reverse engineer your best sales successes.
Take your best sales. Your best customers. Work backwards to identify each step that leads to its meaningful success. Identify each breakthrough that leads to your buyer finding meaning and value in what you do.
What you get from this process is a deeper understanding of what’s motivating you to do great work. There are a million reasons why you can justify an act of service on behalf of your client or customers, but you focused on specific acts. Answering why you focused on specific areas of knowledge and why you chose specific service behaviors gives you a powerful window into how to duplicate and innovate new success.