As business artists, we are blessed and cursed with a generative mind – the ability to come up with lots of ideas. But this comes with a specific problem: which idea is the right one for us to pursue, and when?
Sunni Brown, named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, nailed the problem this way: “Discerning which opportunities to pursue has been a bogeyman in my creative work for years. I just couldn’t settle on the criteria for choosing.”
In the world of business, it’s highly likely that you will have faced the challenges of communicating with people from different backgrounds and fields of expertise. Numerous big brands – from Lincoln Motor Company to Starbucks – have gotten off-track as they’ve grown. Part of what helped them get back on-track and open to new possibilities was returning to their founding values.
How do you pick the right ideas and make sure that you’re evolving in a way that aligns with your core values?
A brand is the total emotional experience people have with you, your organization, or your business. Your brand includes the set of ideas and value that people associate with you.
Branding, on the other hand, includes all the elements you and your team own, craft, and create to elicit a consistent experience you desire to be known for and a promise that you consistently deliver on.
If your brand and branding are out of alignment, it might be time to consider rebranding.
Why? Because inevitably as a company or small business starts to test what is executable and viable, the big vision must shift. People with a stake in the original vision might try to hold onto their piece or take the shift personally.
To grow with integrity means you rebrand from the inside-out.
Dive into and define core values first.
As a vision shifts, values stabilize you and your team. When inevitable challenges in communication and vision shift arise, you can return to the core values as a citadel for why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Once you define your 4-5 core or shared values, you can start to form a creed. A creed works as a pact – a pact among team members, a pact with your best self, a pact with your hero-customers and patch of the planet.
When I was a one-wonderer team with an assistant many moons ago, I formulated this outward-facing creed that continues to guide us in Tracking Wonder as we grow.
The Code of Wonder
- We aspire for our products, services, and programs to help our customers captivate & elevate their audiences with meaningful work while finessing their own life of meaning & making.
- We aspire to create products, services, and programs that are at once meaningful, elegant, and functional. We will scrutinize the quality of everything we do and that we present to meet these standards.
- We aspire to create business systems that make everyone’s lives simpler by being mindful, precise, efficient, and relevant. We aim to scrutinize any technology or, for that matter, any personal habit inconsistent with this aspiration.
- We believe that wonder – and its cousins of delight, openness, and surprise – should be part and parcel of a work life of making.
This Code of Wonder has allowed us to maintain focus as we’ve grown the Tracking Wonder team and helped me know when it’s time to pick new ideas.
Do I and the team fall short sometimes? Yes. But we take value in the process of the prototype, and as a team are committed to evolving with integrity, not perfection.
Self-Knowledge: How to Access Your Core Values
The most successful brands have a clear vision of what they are, who they are trying to reach, and what they are trying to market, but to cultivate this vision, a leader must be willing to look within themselves for guidance.
This involves being sure you can answer the tough questions about your core values: what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
By asking yourself questions, and answering them as truthfully as possible, you can not only create a more honest brand, but you can grow it into something you yourself believe in.
- What are you passionate about?
- What drives you or inspires you to deliver your best work?
- What are your strengths?
- How do you attract people to engage with you?
- How do you uniquely solve or imagine or feel or track your way through problems?
- What do you stand for?
- What do you stand against?
- What are you curious about?
Sometimes we forget to start with our own identity & heritage of experience for answers. Yet consistently, the best way to better understand the brand you’re creating is to consider what you’re passionate about, what makes you curious, and what pushes you to continue working and growing.
By answering these questions, you might learn something new about yourself or you might find yourself stumbling into a world of wonder. This is good. Don’t be afraid to reflect. Don’t be afraid to let go of what you think you know. Don’t be afraid of change- and while you’re at it, let that childhood imagination spring back to life. This will lead you to the vision.
As we evolve and change over time, our businesses and brands evolve, while still staying true to our core values.
Imagine the Little Prince gave a TED Talk
In 2014, I had the desire to start a project. Something to evoke a complex of feelings of curiosity, delightful surprise, intelligent enchantment, pragmatic possibility – all related to the agile creative’s and entrepreneur’s pursuit of meaningful work and ideas.
All of these aspects are core values of the Tracking Wonder brand, but the timing just wasn’t right.
It would take another 3 years to set up the business so the timing would be right to conceive it and handle the unexpected challenges, new skill sets, and glitches that executing such a project entails.
Today, this project is almost ready to enter the world.
The Tracking Wonder Podcast is a provocative and challenging approach to examining how agile creatives and curious entrepreneurs can shape a meaningful life with meaningful work.
Conversation by conversation, we want to inspire you to shape your best work with more possibility, impact, and – yes – wonder.