FIGHT THE URGE TO BE IMPRESSIVE

by Matt Thomas

Several years ago I was preparing for a trip to a large conference and decided it was a good time to update and order new business cards. At the time, I owned and operated two businesses. The first (Core Ventures) was new, exciting, and consumed most of my time and energy. I had big plans to disrupt the recruiting world and build something special, but we hadn’t even landed our first client or made our first hire. On paper it was real, but it was early. The second business was an outfitter my wife and I had opened up together several years prior. It had grown slowly and steadily but it wasn’t long before we realized we were not likely to make any real money so we both exited day to day operations.

I owned the majority of both entities, so I thought it would be a good idea to make a business card with one company on one side and the other on the flip side. Co-founder on one side and CEO on the other! How cool! At the conference, I handed out business cards like candy canes at Christmas eager to confirm that yes indeed, I was a really big deal.

Not too long after that, a series of awful decisions coupled with the loss of our largest client eventually ran the outfitter into the ground and out of business. A year later we sold off the business for parts to a former employee. Recently in a semi-annual cleaning frenzy, I found those impressive two-sided business cards. I threw the box in the trash but decided to save one and keep it on my desk.

The bottom line is this, I am at my absolute best when I am not concerned in the slightest with impressing anyone.

That business card serves to remind me of one important thing: Fight the Urge to be Impressive. So much of my time and energy in my youth was spent ensuring that other people were crystal clear on how great I was, what I was doing, and how I was doing it. Unfortunately, that spilled over into adulthood and haunts me still. The bottom line is this, I am at my absolute best when I am not concerned in the slightest with impressing anyone. It frees me up to run fast, uninhibited, and tap into the limited well of creativity I otherwise would neglect. It is the story of our actions, relayed through the mouths of others, that makes a long-lasting impression.