When the author of a book entitled Swagger joins Phil as a book club guest, you know the discussion is going to be pretty interesting, and boy it was. Sharing her wonderful take on authentic personal branding, Leslie Ehm tells us why having swagger is important and how to find and show yours in your business.
It’s fair to say the word “swagger” has bad connotations. Assuming that, upon hearing it, you conjure up an image of an egotistical attention-seeker strutting around arrogantly, you’d be forgiven for thinking that any advice that actively encourages a business owner to embrace their swagger would be slightly shady.
Well, not Leslie Ehm’s kind of swagger.
Defined as “the ability to manifest who you are and hold on to your one truth regardless of the situation,” this kind of swagger is about embracing who you are as a personal brand. Furthermore, it could be the best business advice you’ve heard yet, as, at its very core, this kind of swagger is about showing the real you.
In this article, we dissect what it means to have swagger and how you can proactively include more of yours into your work.
Why Does It Have to Be Bland, Again?
Let’s face it, the world of private practice hasn’t exactly got the coolest image.
Websites are usually unexciting info hubs covered in corporate imagery, and “professional” copywriting ends up making everyone sound the same brand of bland.
Now, of course, as a medical service, there’s an argument that it’s safer to be bland, as that’s what the general public isused to seeing, but let’s not forget that you run a business and therefore it’s still important to positively stand out.
So, instead of asking why it has to be like that, a better question would be why should you be like that?
And furthermore, if your business’s USP centers on your service and people, then an even better question would be why would you want to be like that?
A Beautiful Human Mess
To be clear, when we talk about embracing your swagger, in this context, we’re talking directly to you, the owner of the private practice, as chances are you are very much the face of your business and therefore it’s important for people to know, like, and trust you.
But how much of yourself are you actually showing?
To Leslie, so many people have 2 personas: their work persona, which is overly formal, and their “BBQ” persona, which is a lot more real, and regrettably, the two never really mix.
She believes that people are so obsessed with looking, sounding, and acting in a way they think they should be, that it often overshadows who they actually are, which leaks through to our digital lives too…
It’s an inescapable truth that, on social media, we’re all accustomed to seeing people’s highlight reel – a filtered, carefully considered, excruciatingly curated stream of content designed to show our best selves because we think that’s what we should be doing.
Leslie Ehm totally disagrees with this.
She describes the ultimate swagger bearer as “a beautiful human mess” because that’s exactly what we all are: fascinatingly fallible and perfectly imperfect – when you think of it like that, why would anyone try to pretend they’re anything but?
To Leslie, true swagger is about how you put yourself out there in the most authentic way, which, when done with true intent, unlocks generosity, confidence, focus, and impact.
Applying the Swagger Mantra to Your Private Practice
So, how does all this apply to you in your private practice?
It comes down to three things: truth, intention, and self-belief.
#1 – Know your truth
Knowing your truth is about knowing your core values as a human being and applying them to all areas of your life, especially in work.
But, knowing your truth from a swagger POV is where it’s really at…
For example, as a hearing care professional, you might value honesty, helpfulness, care, and compassion for your fellow human as core values, but it could be argued that most hearing care professionals value those things. So, in that case, look deeper and identify your unique core values, which could be things such as a) being involved in and contributing to the spirit of the local community, b) creating an air of warmth around you, or even c) making people laugh.
Now, taking those core values, you can look at how you can apply them to your business, such as a) setting up a scheme whereby you visit local schools and educate them on the importance of looking after their hearing, b) bringing some of your home baking to work, or c) writing a jovial and witty blog to put on your website.
Now that’s true swagger talking.
#2 – What’s your real intention?
Leslie talks about intention in a way that seriously addresses the elephant in the room, which is the fact that, as business owners, people’s intentions are usually about making more money. However, in relation to embracing your swagger and showing the real you, that’s not really going to cut it.
So, ask yourself, what was your real intention when you chose to become a hearing care professional?
If the answer was to “help people with their hearing challenges,” then that’s a great place to start, as it’s the foundation for everything else to be built on.
Practically speaking, this good could be applied to your social media where you could easily share helpful tidbits of hearing-related info, or set up a monthly Q&A clinic where people can ask you any questions directly.
#3 – Self-belief
Leslie believes that true confidence comes with true competence. Do you back yourself 100% in how you currently put yourself out into the world?
To be more specific, you could think about your business from the perspective of your patients: Is their experience enjoyable from start to finish, or are there areas that could be improved?
Right now, you are creating your legacy.
If it were all to end today, would you feel what you’ve done thus far is a true reflection of your swagger?