On the Friday before I was to leave for New York and start our Initial Public Offering road show, one of the advisors who had been helping us prepare stopped by my office. He wanted to check in one final time to see how I was doing and to wish me the best on what was going to be a very big three weeks. He gave me some of the best advice I have ever received.
He said, "Shawn, be yourself and be passionate out there. You are going to meet a lot of different people in three weeks. They do not know you or your unique culture, and if you do not tell them about it they will never hear it." He went on to add that as he had gotten to know our company over time, he was always amazed at the passion and energy that our folks have during his visits. He said it was infectious.
Now I had heard many times, as we all have, that we should be ourselves. I also knew that Benefitfocus has a unique culture. However I had been preparing for this new journey by getting smart on all the financial details of our public offering, all the key messaging and rehearsing presentations and Q&A for hours (actually months). I had done all the proper preparation, but was about to go out and present those facts without getting the emotion across regarding who we are and what we are all about.
It sounds so simple now, but I assure you that it set me free to be myself in front of a very new audience. Think about that for a moment; if you do not express yourself and demonstrate your company's culture and passion to new people, who will? The answer is nobody. And in that is the tremendous missed opportunity.
Thankfully I got that advice, at that time, and in the proper manner. The bonus for me personally was that I enjoyed those three weeks a whole lot more as a result. Try it out yourself. The next time you are meeting with someone new, tell them a bit more about who you really are, what makes you passionate and how amazing your company is. It will allow you to enjoy yourself and provide your audience something to remember you by.