Excerpt from the book Quiet Power Strategy:
I met my partner on OKCupid. It might have been love at first sight, although, because I was skeptical of falling in love with an online dating profile, I certainly didn’t recognize it at the start.
“I make better kimchi than your Korean grandmother,” it said. I was immediately intrigued, not because I have any great love of kimchi but because that was how he chose to describe himself. He also went on to list knitting, literary science fiction, and jazz among his interests. Honestly, I thought he was too good to be true. I thought someone was messing with me.
That same night, not more than 30 minutes later, I bumped into him in town. A mutual friend said, “hello.” Sean politely — and I’m always certain to use the word “politely” when I tell this story because it was exactly that way, so polite and so very “him” — introduced himself and then went about his business. He was real. He appeared to be exactly as he described, part mountain man from Montana by way of Alaska and part lover of fine things and good food.
We went on our first date a week later. Not surprisingly, conversation was easy and flowed through two glasses of wine. I mentioned my great love of Star Trek. Sean said, “Oh! I have something I have to show you then,” and went for his backpack. He pulled out his wallet, open it with a grin, and showed me the first plastic credit card sleeve in which he had placed a cut out of Kirk and Spock from a Star Trek comic.
That was it. Looking back on that night, that was the moment we knew — even if it took us a few days and weeks to really come to terms with the surprise — that we had finally found that person who could really be our true partner.
Now, why this revelation of my romantic history in a conversation about business and strategy? Because it was Sean’s Quiet Power that I fell in love with and continue to love every day. A less powerful person wouldn’t have revealed the geekery contained in his wallet on a first date. A less powerful person wouldn’t have even brought up kimchi or Star Trek to begin with. A less powerful person would have missed the opportunity of a lifetime by hiding his unique point of view.
Sean invests precious time, energy, and money in both what he loves and ways to ensure others can love it, too. He doesn’t worry that people might turn up their nose at a food that has been historically prepared by burying it in the ground. He doesn’t hide his love of science fiction. He is fully invested in his unique point of view.
His friends, family, customers, and coworkers hold him in high esteem because of this. I am incredibly proud to be with him. You never get the sense he is working a script (even when he is) or manipulating a conversation to his advantage (even when he does). His strategy is always authentic, aligned, and true to who he is and what he wants. He’s always mindful of how his unique point of view creates experiences for others.
You see, it’s not that working a script or manipulating the course of conversation is bad. It’s not. We do it on a daily basis. We all find ourselves in the position of having to convince, move, and sell others regularly, no matter whether sales is in your job description or not. And because sales, or even persuasion, is often a matter we would like to avoid, we co-opt others formulas, tactics, and points of view as our own in order to avoid putting our true ideas on the line.
When you own — invest in, even — your unique point of view, you become more persuasive, more relatable, and more compelling. When you don’t try to ignore the quirks and fascinating tidbits that make you you, those kinds of conversation become not only fun, but more effective. Sure, your quirks may not make for mainstream success but the truth is that mainstream success is all but dead. Even “big stars” are not carried by niche audiences. Your goal isn’t to sound like everyone else, your goal is to sound like you. Your Quiet Power Strategy must be rooted in all the idiosyncratic and unconventional aspects of your point of view.
More than that, you should invest in them, literally. Take the time, energy, and money that’s needed to explore your unique makeup. If you’re into Star Trek, go to a convention. If you’re into fermented foods, fill your cabinets full. If you’re into literature, invest in subscriptions to your favorite journals. This is not a matter to approach with frugality. Watch your Quiet Power balance go up with each investment.
That’s how you build loyalty and longevity with all the right people. And there's nothing more powerful than that.
Tara Gentile is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.