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To all the Awesomes, pretending to be average


Do you know how there are some links you see on Twitter that you just have to click on? Well, this was one of those:

Doctor Awesome, one root canal + seven priceless business lessons. – than a minute ago via Seesmic twhirl

For a couple of reasons:

One, root canals and the word “awesome” used in the same sentence imply some kind of a supernatural power to me.

While I am not the slightest bit afraid of things like spiders, mice, extremely high rollercoaster drops, or moving to a new country without knowing anyone or speaking the language, I am utterly terrified by root canals. Or anything to do with dentists. And by utterly terrified, I mean I turn chalk white and my knees start to shake just at hearing the sound of the dentist drill, or sensing just the slightest hint of the typical dentist office smell. Sometimes, smelling salts are necessary.

And two, business lessons? After a root canal?

They must have been some amazing lessons. That, or Fabeku has supernatural powers himself. Because you better believe it, business lessons are the very last thing on my mind after a root canal.

So I simply had to know more. (And that, of course, also shows just how effective that title was.)

And so I clicked. And so should you. I’ll wait. This post is oh-so-worth-reading:

Doctor Awesome’s Seven Lessons In Extraordinariness

And once you’re done admiring Dr. Awesome and trying to book an appointment with him, let me ask you this: do you notice anything a bit unusual?

Trying to fit in a patient sooner because he is in pain.
Remembering his allergies.
Calling afterward to see how he is doing.

I don’t know about you, but these all seem fairly common sense. Good business practice.

Something I would expect every single dentist to do.

But I happen to know, through some personal experiences that I would much rather forget, that they don’t.

So… why don’t they?

I don’t know. Maybe because they can get away with it. Maybe they are to wrapped up in other things. Maybe common sense is not so common. Maybe… well, who cares. I’m not here to make excuses for them. What I would really like to know is this:

Why is it so damn difficult to find these awesome professionals that make every client feel secure, taken care of, satisfied?

Because another thing that jumped out at me from Fabeku’s beautiful tale is the fact that he found this doctor on Google. How he picked this guy from pages and pages of results, I have no idea. He either has some sixth sense about these things, or he was just very very lucky. Because whenever I try to pick out a professional from Google results or from the Yellow Pages, I almost always end up with Mr. Less-Than-Average. Never Dr. Awesome.

Fabeku only saw the “Voted best dentist in Cincinnati” plaque once he was in the office. Not before. He had no idea this was Dr. Awesome. He learned it during the experience.

And that just doesn’t seem fair to me.

Because, you see, I have met quite a few Mr. and Ms. Awesomes as well. Almost always by pure chance, or through a recommendation from a friend.

For example, there is Alejandro, a hairdresser.
I had walked by his studio countless times, never taking any notice. It looks exactly like the other dozen or so hairdressers in the neighborhood. If not shabbier. So, even though I was often looking for a hairdresser, I never stopped at that little entrance hidden away by a couple of bigger stores.

But this tale needs a little parenthesis to make sense:

You see, I’m a Russian, living in Italy. My hair texture — thin, soft, naturally straight — is quite unusual here. I also happen to like my hair short. I am very low-maintenance, and I want to be able to wash and go. No styling, no products, no silly round brushes that I never managed to hold the right way. And most hairdressers I have been to have reacted to my request for a short cut in one of two ways:

  1. “Oh, no, you don’t want to cut all that hair! It is so beautiful long!” (Um, yes, I do actually. Because if it’s long, it bothers me and is going into a ponytail. And nobody will ever see it, or care whether it’s beautiful.)
  2. By giving me a cut that that works well on the typical Italian hair. That looks good after they put in an entire bottle of hairspray, or a jar of gel. And then never looked good again.

After searching for my perfect hairdresser for years and never finding him, I was so desperate, I ended up cutting my own hair once. And it actually looked better than my last professional cut.

But then, I saw a girl at my gym. She had a similar hair structure to mine. And a beautiful, short haircut that looked good even as she was working out. No products, no styling.

So I asked her who cut her hair. The rest is history.

Alejandro is a genius. He knows different hair textures and face shapes, he knows what works and what doesn’t. All I had to say was, “I want it short.” He did the rest.

He also fit me into his schedule on December 30th, and worked through his lunch hour, because it took longer than expected.

By chatting with him, I learned that he has a background as a stylist for photoshoots. He traveled all over Europe, and he is well familiar with all the different hair textures. By now, he instinctively knows what works.

If I had only known about him earlier, I would have been his loyal client for years by now.

Why wasn’t it more obvious from his studio, that place I passed countless times, that he was a genius? I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t ask. I was too busy admiring my gorgeous new haircut. But I will, next time I am there.

Then there is this tiny, family-run bakery that I discovered by pure chance.

Simply because it’s on my way home, and right next to the pet store where I stop quite often. This place has the most delicious fresh-baked smell that you can not ignore.

The smell changes with the seasons, and throughout the day. Mostly it’s the crunchy, warm bread scent. During the Christmas holidays it’s the traditional smell of exquisite treats like panettone and pandoro. In the mornings, it’s buttery croissants; and in the afternoons, hazelnut cookies.

Once you’re inside, you have to buy something. Or try something — because if you simply ask Angela, the woman behind the counter, what that delicious smell is, she will grab a tiny cookie and insist you try it, and then tell you all about the ingredients, or how they got the recipe as you munch on it.

And during the holidays, when all other stores throughout Rome are closed, they will take your order and hand you a crusty, warm, delicious loaf on Christmas day — while everybody else is eating the bread they bought two days in advance.

None of these things is written anywhere.

Their humble sign simply says “Bakery.” They are nowhere to be found on the internet. The extra-care, the special service, the fresh bread made for you during the holidays — it isn’t mentioned in their Yellow Pages listing, or on their business card. I know these things only because I already am a client.

But what if this place wasn’t so conveniently located for me?

I’d be eating stale bread on Christmas, like everyone else.

And I can’t help but wonder:

How many others wish they could buy fresh bread on Christmas?
How many others would appreciate a taste of a cookie before they buy it?
How many others drive by this tiny bakery without ever noticing it — and don’t know what they are missing?

These are just a couple of examples. I am sure you have your own.

So can you imagine how many Dr. Awesomes, how many hair geniuses, how many baking fairies, how many other amazing professionals are hiding behind the facade of an average Joe?

Maybe because they don’t think they are doing anything special. Maybe because they don’t know how to truly show the world they are different. Maybe because they are afraid, or embarrassed of shouting about their own awesomeness.

It’s not fair.

It’s not fair to them, because they deserve to be recognized. But, most of all, it’s not fair to us, their potential biggest fans. The clients who have been searching everywhere for someone special, and settling for someone ordinary.

So if you happen to be a Mr. Awesome hiding behind the facade of Mr. Average, I want to know why.

Why aren’t you making your awesomeness more obvious? Why aren’t you shouting it to the world? Why can’t your potential biggest fans find you when they need you?

Because they do need you.

You know that, right? You know that you provide that something extra. You know that you are not the same as all the others that are only in it for the money. You know your clients — no, your fans! — really appreciate it. And many others would appreciate it, too. If they only knew about it.

So please, please don’t hide from us. There is enough average in the world already. We need your awesome. We need to be able to find you. Please let us!

Tell us why your are awesome. Make it really obvious. Don’t be afraid to repeat it. Don’t be afraid to shout.

Don’t be afraid to shine.

18 Comments on this Post.

  1. OMGosh Lisa this is brilliant, really. I was jiving along with you going “yeah…it’s not fair…she’s totally right…” up until the end when I realized that doh! now you’re talking to us…me.

    So this post was an awakening one for me, and as you know I need these little enlightenments now more than ever. I promise you here that I’ll do everything in my power to not ever be afraid to shine. :D

    Thank you and hugs,

    • Thanks Jenny! Your comment has me grinning from ear to ear… that’s the reaction that makes the 24 hours I spent thinking about all this, and writing, and crossing out, and writing some more TOTALLY WORTH IT! :)

      You, you are well on your way — I think you stopped being afraid with your Rock Their F’n Socks Off! post, because that really and truly shines. Just with glimpses of what’s to come, for now — but, as those of us privileged enough to take a look behind the scenes know, there is brilliance coming. And I really feel honored to be a part of it.


  2. Hi Lisa

    Loved the post. I am trying to picture a Russian living in Italy expressing herself in impeccable English :-) Wow you are one talented lady… so many areas. I recognise this even knowing you such a short time.

    I love reading well-written posts that have great content that will give me another glimpse into what I need to be doing with my fledgling business. And I’m glad you have found a great hairdresser.

    When you began with root canals I wondered where this was going lol Worked for a bit in a dental surgery and I well remember having to calm many patients down who if I met them in their professional capacity outside were completely different. I have written an article on Dental visit with a Difference (as it’s a lavender site you have a hint there) based on controlled clinical studies they did in the UK. When you have time have a read and it might help at your next visit ;-)

    Now to go do something NOT so average and have my lovely lavender products shine. Thanks Lisa for a great article. So glad I found your site.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Thank you Patricia! Languages are one of those things I am not afraid of. :)

      I will look for that dental visit post, but I am still hoping beyond hope to find a Dr. Awesome around here too. If anyone knows of one, can I have his number? Please?

      I must say that your lovely lavender products have the advantage of such a distinct niche, and the personal touches you add are quite awesome — now to let everybody know that! :)

  3. I like this post a lot, but man, it’s one of those “you put me on the spot” posts. Most of us just aren’t geared towards this type of thinking. You didn’t indicate the age of the people you discovered, but I grew up in the days when you weren’t supposed to talk about yourself in that fashion. Even after reading Peggy Klaus’ book Brag I still have difficulties with that sometimes.

    So, what makes me awesome… couldn’t begin to tell you. :-)

    • Hi Mitch,

      You’re right; the hiding is especially common with the generation that grew up in “those days”… And, actually, here in Italy, it’s more common still, even with the younger generation. But often, I come across people who simply don’t realize just how awesome what they offer is — they consider it normal. It sounds like that might be the case with Dr. Awesome; and it sounds like it might be the case with you. But just the fact that you are asking yourself that question is the first step. :)

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed both posts, thanks for sharing them. I’m with Jenny above, happily nodding away in agreement and then realising you’re talking to me.

    I promise to do everything in my power to shine too.

    • Thank you Ryah! And I think that you, like Jenny, are well on your way… I have been watching your awesomeness become more visible over the last few months, and I am sure there is more to come! :)

      • Thank you for the encouragement Lisa, even though I don’t consider myself awesome at all. I’m working on it though!

        • I wonder how many awesomes don’t consider themselves awesome… ;)

  5. I love this more than I can say.


    Well done, Lisa!

    • Thank you Catherine! Coming from you, the Queen of Awesome, this means SO MUCH!

  6. Andrea J. Phillips

    This is EXACTLY the group of entrepreneurs /small business owners I LOVE to help! People who are awesome at what they do for a living…and it’s not marketing!

    My experience is that the people who MOST need to hear this advice–the Dr. Awesomes, Alejandros, family bakeries–will never read your post.

    Not because it’s not brilliant, of course (it is!), but because they’re not on Twitter clicking on links about being Awesome.

    The passionate entrepreneurs that I meet are super awesome & super brilliant at what they do, but really, truly clueless about marketing. They are as lost, overwhelmed, and confused thinking about what they should be doing for marketing as I would be if someone handed me a few years of bookkeeping records and asked me to do their taxes. And they’d likely be just as bad at it!

    Getting in car now, but would love to talk more!


    • Hi Andrea,
      You are absolutely right; people who need to hear this most will probably never read it. Or look for it, or ask for help… they will just carry on being awesome in their own way, and we will never know about it, unless we’re very lucky.

      But maybe, just maybe, if more of us remember this, then we can tell them when we happen to meet them.

      I know I do, whenever I can. They won’t always listen, but at least they start to think about it.
      Of course there is only one of me, so there are only so many awesomes I can find. But I bet you do this too. And Catherine, and now maybe all the others who read this post.

      Or maybe I’m being too much of an idealist, I don’t know. Still, that won’t stop me helping those that I can find. And it sounds like your mission is similar! And if nothing else, I’m glad I met you through this post.

      I look forward to talking with you more! See you on Twitter. :)

  7. Wow. So much food for thought, and not an easy task. I do believe I will be printing this out and reading often.

  8. It’s to zero in on what we do and put it into pictures and words.

    What do we do that is DIFFERENT and EXTRAORDINARY and INVITES people to inquire?

    You are so good at helping people do this, Lisa. I’ve got more work to do but you got me going. Having coffee with Maria this morning…we talked about you. How can the two of us – in California – be so impressed with YOUR WORK when you live in ITALY? You just get it. Via email. Via SKYPE. It’s cool – this modern day of technology bringing us together.

    I think I’ll go get some fresh bread now. You made me hungry! :-) ~Mary (aka ReloMary)

    • Hi Mary!

      Yes, you got it! Different, and extraordinary… so many of us are, yet we forget to flaunt it. :)

      And yeah, I have a knack for making people hungry. (Opening a restaurant is on my to-do-eventually list.)

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