I remember, back in the early days of running my own business, someone had a firm word with me about my ‘presence’.
Actually, that’s a really kind way of putting it!
Someone told me I shouldn’t be myself. I needed to stop being the real Taz and start ‘conforming’.
My business would never take off if I didn’t ditch all those ridiculous ideals I had about being true to myself.
Apparently, I needed to get back in the box, grow a stiff upper lip, and dust off the pinstripes.
The problem with this? I didn’t want to!
I’d just broken free of my corporate confines where, despite climbing to the top of the tree, I’d been forcing myself into someone else’s mold for years.
I was determined not to go back there!
I wanted my fuchsia pink spiky hair.
I wanted to keep the funky, own-brand, Unleash Your Awesome T-shirts.
I wanted to wear the bright pink sports shoes, the jeans freshly graffitied with positive slogans, and one too many sets of mala beads wrapped around my wrist.
I decided not to listen to my starchy naysayers – the people who appeared to do everything ‘properly’, had the sensible salary, the pension, and the 2.4 kids.
Not because I didn’t respect them – I really did – but because, in essence, they weren’t happy.
Not one of them!
Slaves to the system, driving around in cars they could barely afford, to get to a job they hated, in order to pay for the house they never got to spend quality time in.
What’s the point of looking the part on the outside if everything was crumbling on the inside?
Saving for a rainy day? We’re in England. It rains a lot!
Oh, you mean saving for retirement? Good plan! Live a miserable existence now and maybe, one day, when you’re too old to enjoy those things you planned to spend the money on, you might be able to squeeze in a couple of cruises before you start peeing down your legs and shuffle into a retirement home.
I’m broad brushing, I know; perhaps even exaggerating – but I wanted more!
I’d already been through the anxiety, the stress, the emotional unraveling, the sleepless nights, and the breakdown. This was my chance to actually say YES to life, and I was taking it!
I was grabbing this opportunity firmly, with both hands, even if some thought I was crazy!
That emphasis on soul-deep authenticity became part of my message and, guess what? The punk-meets-surf-meets-rock-chick blend only grew more.
Pink glitter Doc Martens.
Custom Taz Thornton Converse, complete with my brand colors and a rainbow stripe.
Bright pink jackets – everything from office-style with badges on the lapels to break the corporate code to cerise biker jackets covered in zips.
The more I stepped into my personal style – whatever the ‘proper’ business code was supposed to be – the more demand for my services grew.
I worked hard – and smart – of course, but all that early advice I was given was dust.
Spain. Sicily. Milan. Cannes. London. Birmingham. Scotland. I was being asked to show up and speak in more and more places, with a huge emphasis on authenticity and personal brand.
I started winning awards, being named in global lists of the top people in marketing to follow.
Two best-selling books, more commissioned, TV and radio slots, and, of course, awesome opportunities like America Out Loud. It’s a long story but, I’m pretty sure, without my pink hair, I might never have met Malcolm Out Loud!
More important than all of that, the more my reputation grew, the bigger my audience became, the more people I could help, support, inspire, motivate, encourage.
And that, good people, is what it’s all about!
Today, I’m here to remind you of the importance of following your own path.
Sure, take advice from successful people who’ve walked before you, but don’t try to BE them.
Be you. Be more you. Then be even more you-er than you!
Carve your own groove, you awesome people. Live to love what you do!
Take it from me – there *have* been hard times and struggles, and it was much easier to climb up and out of those gulfs because my ‘work’ truly was my passion. It filled me up.
It still does.
This week, I’ve created yet another taboo.
In the oh-so-serious and grown-up world of business coaching and consultancy, I’ve launched a cartoon series.
Some time ago, a really cool cartoonist started following my content. Then he read my books.
Then lockdown hit. The arts – and artists – were being punched in the pocket and I wanted to give a little something back.
An idea hatched and that cartoonist and I started talking.
Before long, I’d commissioned Morgan Gleave to create a Taz Thornton cartoon strip – fun, funky, and easy on the eye, with everyone delivering an important message on life, business, or both.
It’s out there now. The first edition of Taz’s Awesome Tales went live across LinkedIn, Facebook, Insta, and Twitter on Friday.
A cartoon about serious business?!
So far, the feedback has been immensely positive – and our comic strip is attracting positive media attention too!
Imagine if I’d listened to my naysayers? Where would I be right now?
Unhappy, probably. And horribly beige!
I’d be the human equivalent of a boring house painted in industry-standard magnolia throughout.
Would I be able to positively impact so many people if I’d decided to back down and blend in?
I guess we’ll never know, and that’s okay.
And so, as I sit here writing for America Out Loud, I’m wearing an Unleash Your Awesome hoodie with jeans, a Wonder Woman belt, Batman socks, and Star Wars knickers (yeah, I know you guys say ‘panties’ but gimme a break, I’m British).
Business is good. My marriage is awesome. My life is happy. Yep – even during the lockdown.
Please, if you’re reading this, dance to your own tune. Dance off the beat if you want to. Carve out your place in the world and absolutely own it!
Do not EVER allow someone else’s fears, or ideals, hold you back from becoming your best self.
It doesn’t matter whether you identify more with pink, beige, or rainbow sparkles – just be brave enough to own it, live it, and love it!
Who knows where that passion and enthusiasm might take you?
Until next time,