What’s Your Super Power?

Everybody has a Super Power. The key is to figure out what that is and create opportunities to make the most of it.

When I need a sounding board I get together with Mike O’Toole, President of PJA Advertising in Cambridge. PJA is about the size of my previous firm, so we meet to swap war stories, commiserate on the travails of running a business and share best practices.

A bright guy and solid citizen, Mike has a podcast called The Unconventionals that is worth a listen for anybody interested in unconventional marketing strategies and tactics.

Over the years we’d often talk about employees. I would bring up someone, and inevitably he’d ask “well, what’s her Super Power?”

In Mike’s eyes, everybody has a Super Power and the key is to figure out what that is and create opportunities to make the most of it. “It’s easy to focus on what people can’t do,” he would say, “but often better to focus on what they can do.”

I agree with this philosophy, but it led to spirited discussions. In my experience, people, and often the marketing firms/agencies they work for, tend to be congenitally unhappy with who they really are.

The great project managers want to be perceived as more strategic. The brand agencies want to be more digital. The digital agencies want to be more brand. The financial services shops, well, they really want to get into healthcare.

In the “specialist” era it’s critical we figure out who God made us to be.

Clients are increasingly hiring specialist firms. They’re looking at prospective partners and saying “you’re superb at creative, or building complex web sites” for example, and divvying up resources accordingly. It gives them more mouths to feed and manage, but it’s a manifestation of a simple schoolyard truth: Nobody’s good at everything, but everybody’s great at something.

Whether you’re an employee or a business, it’s a good time to focus on becoming the best version of yourself you can be:

1. Get outside help to make an honest, objective assessment about what makes you truly special.
2. Listen to this outside counsel, and resist the temptation to chase professional windmills that dilute your inherent, best qualities in pursuit of “more.”
3. Don’t stop expanding skill-sets and settle for the status quo, but maximize who/what you naturally are first.

Do some market research with people you trust, and embrace your superpower. In an era of specialization the first order of business is to become an expert on you.


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