The business world is fantastic. It's also challenging. Over the course of your career, you'll face ethical, cultural, political, and personal dilemmas in the workplace. You'll work with difficult people. You'll find yourself in compromising situations. You'll have to balance who you are as an individual with what your employer asks of you.
Can you stay true to who you are without sacrificing your success? Absolutely YES.
*** A BIG thank you to my readers now in 75 countries around the world! Wow. ***

Be More Interesting

How To Be Interesting In Your Life...
And Successful in Your Work

Jessica Hagy published a fantastic article with
Forbes last week on "10 Ways To Be More Interesting."
Here's how to apply the same principles at work
to be both interesting... and successful.

1. Go exploring. 
Explore ideas, places, and opinions. The inside of the echo chamber is where all the boring people hang out. (Jessica Hagy, 2012)

Applying it at work
It's easy to get in a rut at work, hanging out with the same people and doing the same things over and over again. We naturally gravitate to what we know. We tend to spend more time with people who are like to us than those who are different. To "go exploring" at work, branch out. Ask people to share their opinions, particularly people you know will view the world differently than you do. Challenge yourself as to whether you're right. Do this often. You'll find that you change your mind or approach often, simply by taking the time to consider your second or third option. Avoid getting stuck in your ways. 

2. Share what you discover. 
And be generous when you do. Not everybody went exploring with you. Let them live vicariously through your adventures.  (Jessica Hagy, 2012) 

Applying it at work
Sometimes we just want to put our heads down and crank out work. Even when we learn from a big win or a painful lesson, we tend to shake it off and move to the next item on the list. To "share what you discover" at work, take a few minutes to be a resource for others. If you read a good book, go to a conference, or participate in a training session, share a tidbit you learned with others. If you make a mistake and learn a hard lesson, share it with others so they can avoid making the same mistake. If you find a better way to do something, ask for a forum to share your ideas. Avoid hoarding knowledge. What's the point? 

3. Do something. Anything. 
Dance. Talk. Build. Network. Play. Help. Create. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re doing it. Sitting around and complaining is not an acceptable form of ‘something,’ in case you were wondering.  (Jessica Hagy, 2012) 

Applying it at work
It's been proven that people generally perform to the level that's expected of them. When we're asked to do more, we do more. When we're not, we generally don't. It's human nature. To "do something" better at work, don't be someone who requires the ask. Deliver even when nothing is asked of you. Contribute your best talents to your organization. You're not entitled to your job; it's your responsibility to deserve it. We all feel pushed beyond our limits at times. Complaining rarely helps. If you contribute to your maximum potential, whatever that is, you know you're doing your best. Do it because you should, not because you're asked. Avoid entitlement and chronic complaining.

4. Embrace your innate weirdness. 
No one is normal. Everyone has quirks and insights unique to themselves. Don’t hide these things—they are what make you interesting. (Jessica Hagy, 2012)

Applying it at work:

In business, most of us have one of two general inclinations: to blend in completely or to stand out with ferocity. At times, either of those approaches can be a good strategy. To "embrace your innate weirdness" at work, though, try to find the middle ground. Don't be a lamb that hides among the flock. But don't be a foghorn in the dead of night either. Choose to be interesting vs. odd. Know what makes you unique and put it to good use. Don't hide from your talents, even if they're unusual. Find a way to make your innate weirdness work to your advantage. Avoid being bland. 

5. Have a cause.
If you don’t give a damn about anything, no one will give a damn about you. (Jessica Hagy, 2012) 

Applying it at work:
Work is often seen as a necessary evil. It's easy to save our "caring" for life outside of work. Here's the thing. It's really unappealing to spend time with people who don't care about their jobs. You don't have to be a crusader for your company. But care about something. To "have a cause" at work, care about what matters. Be informed about your company, your clients, and your role. Find a way to make a difference by standing for something. Anything. Provide great customer service, push for more flexibility for yourself and your peers, or provide input for product improvements. Whatever it is, care about something or you risk being terribly uninteresting. Avoid apathy.

6.  Minimize the swagger.
Egos get in the way of ideas. If your arrogance is more obvious than your expertise, you are someone other people avoid. (Jessica Hagy, 2012) 

Applying it at work
There's a big difference between confidence and arrogance. There's a more nuanced, but equally important, difference between being assertive and being aggressive. These differences become apparent to us by watching others. There's value in knowing, with total clarity, the tipping point between too much and just right. To "minimize the swagger" at work, start by being known for your performance vs. your personality. Keep your ego in check, even if others feed it. When you're at your very best, show humility. Don't let your ego come out to play at work. People will think you're an ass. And for good reason. You'll be acting like one. Avoid ego.

7. Give it a shot.
Try it out. Play around with a new idea. Do something strange. If you never leave your comfort zone, you won’t grow. (Jessica Hagy, 2012) 

Applying it at work
Opportunities abound to take chances in the workplace. Most people don't take them. It normally comes down to a split second decision. Trying something new creates more work, which is the last thing anyone wants. We fear failure or exposure. To "give it a shot" at work, challenge yourself to try something you haven't tried before. Present one idea to make the business better or improve the work environment. Be willing to risk rejection or potential failure. Start small and work toward higher stakes over time. Just start. Avoid complacency.

8. Hop off the bandwagon. 
If everyone else is doing it, you’re already late to the party.  Do your own thing, and others will hop onto the spiffy wagon you built yourself. Besides, it’s more fun to drive than it is to get pulled around. (Jessica Hagy, 2012) 

Applying it at work: 
It's challenging to lead the way vs. follow at work, especially if you aren't the "designated" leader. Sometimes we simply can't step out in front given the constraints of our job. Other times, we don't feel that it's our place to veer from the established course. To "hop off the bandwagon" at work, innovate in whatever way you can. Improve something. Be an agent for change when something can be done smarter, better, or faster. Most good ideas in business don't come from management. Innovation is almost always bourn from someone who's following a process or using a product that isn't as good as it could be. Don't go along with the status quo if something could be better. Be the person who leaves it better than you found it. Avoid sameness. 

9. Grow a pair.
Bravery is needed to have contrary opinions and to take unexpected paths. If you’re not courageous, you’re going to be hanging around the water cooler, talking about the guy who actually is. (Jessica Hagy, 2012)

Applying it at work:
Being courageous in the workplace requires you to stand up to potential judgment and risk failure. It can be intimidating. The key is to use discrimination as to when to be courageous. We need to be both courageous and smart, to put the odds of a positive result in our corner. To "grow a pair" at work, choose distinct opportunities to be courageous. Bring knowledge, intellect, and a good plan to the table every time. Bravery in the workplace only counts if you push to create better outcomes than would otherwise happen. Grandstanding, solely for the sake of praise or recognition, doesn't win the day. See #6 above. Be brave when you have a chance to make things better. Avoid fear, uncertainty and doubt. 

10. Ignore the scolds.
Boring is safe, and you will be told to behave yourself. The scolds could have, would have, should have. But they didn’t. And they resent you for your adventures. (Jessica Hagy, 2012) 

Applying it at work:
In many work environments, conformity reigns. Appearances and optics rule the day. Sometimes when we're different or we take chances, we make others uncomfortable. To "ignore the scolds" at work, learn how to push boundaries within tolerable levels. Approach your work with a sense of adventure and risk that comes with wanting to do better. Just know that you may stir a hornet's nest by pushing for improvements, highlighting needed changes, or challenging others to do the right thing. Others may find you "too" bold. People may wish you'd just get in line and stay the course. Work at fitting in, but only to a degree. A little rebellion and challenge is good within every organization. As long as your intentions are positive and your approach is respectful, shake it up. Avoid peer pressure to conform.

The Bottom Line

There's a lot to be said for being predictable, reliable, and safe. These traits keep the world functioning on a day-to-day basis in many regards. The challenge is that neither individuals or businesses evolve when these traits are predominant over time. There's nothing interesting about staying the course without evolution of some kind.

The world needs innovators, courageous seekers of knowledge, and those who are willing to risk failure and ridicule. Someone has to explore and discover, bring a unique perspective, take chances, and push for causes that matter. Why not be one of these people, to whatever degree you can? 

It's a worthy cause just to be "interesting" in life. It's healthy to step out of our comfort zone every now and then, to see the world around us with fresh eyes. Others will view us with new perspective as a result. 

It's an equally worthy cause to be "interesting" at work. We become stale if we don't stretch our capabilities and contributions. Risk is invigorating for individuals and organizations. Without risk, nothing new, fresh or exciting can develop. Without evolution and transformation, we become less interesting. Our likelihood of success in the workplace wanes.

Be interesting - and successful - by changing it up at work. Explore. Try something new. Be brave. Stand up for what matters. See if you can move from a simple idea to a better result, just by taking a chance.

Once you get started, you may find there's no turning back.

More soon,


To learn more about Jessica Hagy, or hire her in support of your business:

To view the original article that inspired this blog: