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How Being Unapologetic Helps Me–And You–Win At Biz

In: Marketing,

First of all, if you want teddy bears, get off this blog.

Teddy bears and hand holding is for other people. Here, we’re about fresh ones right across the face. I don’t have time for bullshit, and neither do you.– 

Second, if you aren’t going to take the quality of your life seriously, get off this blog.

I’m not interested in debating the merits of why you should or shouldn’t start your own projects and pursue financial and creative freedom. You know what you have to do.

Third, if any part of you finds me or the TMFproject community offensive, generally disturbing, or someone you wouldn’t envision yourself having a martini with, get off this blog.

Only 24 hours in a day, baby. Choose who you spend your time with wisely.

That said, today I want to talk about totem poles.

I’ve been thinking a lot about totem poles. More than the average person thinks about totem poles, I would presume. I mean, you probably haven’t thought about totem poles since, what, the 4th grade? (Awesome, now I’m going to rank on Google for “totem poles,” and all of those poor folks  searching out totem pole project ideas for their children are going to stumble across this. Bless their souls.)

Totem poles represent unity and pride. Stories and beliefs. Experiences.

In general, totem poles were used to identify and stand for groups of people.

It’s no surprise that totem poles don’t exist anymore–what with the whole raping, executing, poisoning, burning and general massacring of the Native Americans.

But interestingly enough, they do still exist.

Just not in the same form.

Today’s totem poles aren’t made from wood, and there’s no bear heads, birds or porcupines carved into them.

Rather, today’s totem poles are something we see every single day, without even realizing it.

Today’s totem poles are brands.

Instead of obnoxiously large vertical logs with colorful carvings, brands now represent unity and pride. Stories and beliefs. Experiences. And brands identify and stand for groups of people.

Brands tell us stories about our place in culture–where we are, where we’ve been–and most of all, they help us figure out where we’re going. 

For us, brands are navigation and identity devices that we use not just to connect with other members of our tribe, so to speak, but to more deeply connect with ourselves.

With the person we are, and the person we aspire to become.

When we select a brand, we’re essentially putting up a little fucking flag declaring who we are, so we can more easily identify and be identified by others in our tribe.

We reinforce our own identity.

We make sense of the world, and our place in it, by choosing one over the other.

Even people who think they aren’t brand shopping, and think they’re price shopping, for example, are still putting up their own fucking flag, declaring something powerful about their values without even trying to.

Brands are our modern day version of totem poles.

I regard myself as more of an athlete if I’m wearing Nike, and not some unknown brand.

I regard myself as more of a chef if I’m using Calphalon pans, and not some unknown brand.

I regard myself as more of a creative if I’m working on a Macbook, and not some unknown brand.

I even regard myself as more of a clean fucking individual if I’m brushing my teeth with Colgate, for goodness sake, and not some unknown brand.

And guess what?

Other people regard me more as those things, too–whether we like it or not.

But now, the challenge I’m presenting you with isn’t to assess what the brands you select say about you. Rather, the challenge I’m issuing is for you to think about what your brand says about your customers.

What little fucking flag are you giving your potential customers?

Are you giving them any flag at all?

How are you helping them to reinforce their identity?

Or aren’t you?

Because if you aren’t…if you’re wallowing on the sidelines, riding the fence, hesitating, afraid to piss someone off, then you’re missing opportunities to connect with those who you’d really want to do business with, anyway.

Your true customers.

That’s the reason I can afford to say bold shit like I did in the beginning of this post.

In fact, it’s the reason I couldn’t afford not to.

So here you go.

A flag for you.

Mostly figuratively. But now literally.

What I hope being a part of The Middle Finger Project community helps you reinforce about your own identity. You aren’t just anyone; you’re someone who’s going to make it happen, come hell or high water. You’re unapologetic. Perhaps afraid to try, but not too afraid that it stops you from actually trying. Not too afraid to hunt down the life you deserve. Not too afraid to live, more than you are to die.

You’re not just Jane Smith. You’re Jane Fucking Smith.

It’s about time you remembered.

And it’s about time the world knows it.

Here’s to unapologetically chasing your fucking dreams. Because if you don’t, who else will?

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There are the passionistas and the opportunists. The passionistas argue you should do what you love. The opportunists argue you should do what you see. In a place like Costa Rica, where C and I have a home, there’s so much opportunity it’s dizzying. Every five minutes I’m starting a new business in my brain. […]

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42 thoughts on "How Being Unapologetic Helps Me–And You–Win At Biz"

  1. Wendy Webb says:

    Girl, you are wyld!  Glad I found your blog.  Thanks for telling it like it is!

    1. Anonymous says:

      Welcome to our crazy little corner of the internet, Wendy!

  2. JasonFonceca says:

    O. M. G. This is heaven.

    Ashley, you hit it out of the park with this. Consider it re-tweeted, fb’d g+’d and more.

    The timing is incredible, because I just wrote this:

    My brand is timeless, sexy succcess, and part of that sexiness is swearing.

    Cuss words are a totally acceptable part of rap brands and celebrity brands, but like 99% of the blogs I’ve seen are afraid of it, especially in my industry (personal development).

    I thought it was Gary Vaynerchuk and me lol.

    So glad to have found TMFP – thank you, keep doin’ you 🙂

  3. Dssimon says:

    I just wanted to say I think you’re fucking amazing with the whole flag thing and cordially invite you to surrogate my unborn children. Not right away, of course. I would but, really? Have you seen my stomach?

    The point is I am now officially on your ship cuz the Goodship Lollipop wasn’t really working for me.

  4. I don’t identify myself with a brand, just because you do or do not own an Apple computer does not make you my fiend nor does it make you my enemy.

    “You are not your khaki’s”
    – Tyler Durden