Building from Love and Trust

If I’m honest – which I am – I have to cop to spending the past two decades making a living out of not having the foggiest idea of what I’m doing.

Yeah, I have some arguably sharp intuition and more than a few ladles of wisdom. And there’s more in the cauldron of strange stew that sits upon the burner of my work. Thousands of hours of training have helped, too, I suppose.

Often, though, it’s those bottomless levels of cluelessness and curiosity that make for the tastiest, most impactful secret sauce.

In most serious business settings, one would think not knowing squat would be seen as disadvantageous. And yet, year after year, my program participants and individual clients grow more sophisticated, more influential in their fields, industries, communities, and organizations.

In other words, things are working quite nicely, thank you very much.

And still, I’m in a bit of a quandary…

Let me give you some context.

I’m in the early stages of a year-long (at least) rebranding process that feels more like new construction, a build it from the foundation-up affair. Sure, I’ve been clear about my market niche for all but the very earliest days of my career. And yeah, I’ve flirted with the notion that I either have a brand or could in some way be a brand… but this is different.

How, you might ask?

For starters, my team and I are faced with making sense, and finding the synergy, of several breeds of dog and an odd collection of cars. Then there’s love, humor – and one very large, big-hearted dragon.

You’d think my hard-won cluelessness and curiosity would help, but I’m at a loss!

This combination of ingredients are the results of a 360 survey that, thankfully, had a higher-than-usual response rate. (For which I’m very grateful! Thank you!) Claudia, who’s been graciously leading me through these first steps from the other side of the Atlantic, let me know that the high percentage of responses I received is not the norm.

She also shared that she’s never seen data quite this… unique.

Side note: If you’re familiar with the Enneagram, I check all the boxes as a “4”. In a nutshell, “unique” and I are not exactly strangers.

About those cars: the consensus was that while there’s a lot under the hood – power, innovative engineering, potential for a whole lotta speed – I’ve kept it hidden, packaged in the form of a practical family sedan, mini-van, or every gear-head’s dream speed-machine. A Prius.

Hey, c’mon! I drive a Prius!

The bottom line is, reliable and well-built as those consensus cars are, they’re not exactly standy-outy or head-turning. In other words, we have some work to do around visibility.

On the dog front, I don’t think the same breed showed up twice.

There was, of course, the Dragon. No offense to dog lovers, but in my world, dragons get serious props and respect well beyond any pooch. Plus, you never have to train or clean up after them.

Whilst pups and autos were all over the map, significant agreement showed up around the two strongest qualities respondents named.

First and foremost, there was love.



I was (still am) deeply moved to see love top the list. The impact on me has been humbling, almost overwhelming, deeply felt and appreciated.

Fun, if you’re wondering, came in a strong second.

What’s not clear yet is how we’re going to build a brand around both Love, Fun, and a Dragon. Even though they feel bullseye-right, there’s a way I’ve been holding love at arm’s length. Not so with Fun and the Dragon, both of which I’ve embraced.

I’ve been explicit about fun and its cousin, irreverence. The Dragon has had a more quiet, implicit home for years.

But I’ve been telling myself complicating stories about the intricacies and complications of leveraging love’s elusive essence, rather than allowing it to be experiential and speak out loud for itself.

I’ve also looked at the way love has been presented in the marketing of Southwest Airlines and Subaru. Might be stating the obvious, but I’m not them.

And so it is that my mind doesn’t know what to do with this info. How could it?

I do know that we could philosophize and otherwise engage our noggins on the topic of love ‘til the cows come home. We’d still miss the experiential depth and breadth of what love, in its wild range of glories, functions, and forms, really is…

For the time being, then, it’s autos, a Dragon, and wee tussle between the heart and the head.

I’m rooting for heart, and I promise to let you know what we discover!