by Maisie Smith on December 4, 2014
I can’t sleep. Our last conversation, the one about the negative review, keeps clinking around in my pinball machine brain. So here I am, writing this to you at 2:45 a.m.
Haters. You just got your first. Congratulations!
There’s a quote I have at my desk that reads “There is nothing harder than the softness of indifference.” I don’t know who originally said it. I only know that it has helped to shape my business and the way that I choose to run my life. Everything that I do is a merging of grace + badassery. It’s the best way I can think of to describe myself. I imagine myself saying to the world, “I love you. Deep bows to you for rocking your existence. Now let’s be fucking weird.”
For the longest time, I was the girl who always walked down the middle of the road. Not too stodgy to lean to the right, not too crazy to leap to the left. People never gave me a second thought. I was just… there, walking in step with all of the other middling mediocrity.
One day I woke up. “You were born to rock the boat,” I said to myself. And since then, I have. It’s filtered out the unwanted distractions in my life. I’ve been able to let go of people who don’t like boat rockers, people who like nice, safe harbors of thought. I’ve been able to focus on projects that have immense capabilities to change the small corners of the world.
I remember my first haters. They lambasted me for my colorful use of expletives, calling me “classless.” The old me would have curled up into a ball and sobbed “why?” into a pillow until I fell asleep. But now? I celebrated it. Bring it, haters. I knew that I had made a dent. I had finally reached a point in my business where I was creating a chasm between my People and the people who didn’t “get” me. I was able to brush it off like a piece of lint from my shoulder, with a “thanks for your comment, there’s plenty of room for everyone at the table, but I probably won’t be sitting next to you anytime soon.”
You can’t be for everyone, Josie. Draw your line and stand behind it. Bold Betty Brewing is strong. Audacious. Full of passion. Heroic. There are going to be people who hate you. Beer snobs who think only men can brew outstanding beers. Women who believe beer is frivolous and a “husband-snatcher.” Just like you and I bag on Budweiser for being a “weenie” beer, people will grumble about Bold Betty Brewing for being too “out there. “
They aren’t your People. (Just like we aren’t Budweiser’s people… thank God.)
Your people confidently order beer with their 11:45 lunch. They save interesting bottle caps. They have tattoos on their fingers and unforgettable beards. They ride bikes in parades, give money freely to the homeless, post about LGBT rights on Facebook and are the epitome of open-mindedness. They went to art school for five years and then became artisan butchers and beekeepers.
So play their music. Hang their art on your brewery walls. Use them in your marketing materials. Cultivate your crowd. Donate to their causes. Welcome your People with open arms and laptop stickers. The haters are always going to be rapping at your door. Not much you can do about that. Focus on being the most badass brewery the world has ever seen. Your people will adore you for it.
The worst thing would be to have a homogenous smattering of people who don’t care one way or another about what you do. They’d be there for the dollar off pints, not for the cheeky vibe or quirky crowd that is the heart and soul of what you are. Trying to style your company to make everyone happy is the quickest recipe for obscurity.
Let’s rock this boat together, my friend.
The “Dear Josie” letters are a new feature of my blog and are posted once a month. In each letter, I write to Josie Meacham, my ideal client and owner of the fictitious Bold Betty Brewing in Portland, Oregon. When I first launched Audacious Muse, hers was the first persona I created. Josie is the epitome of whom I want to serve… bold, irreverent, determined to make a difference. Each month, I give business storytelling advice to Josie in the form of a letter.