Tried-and-tested strategies to help you tap into your zone of genius

The people I’ve met throughout my career tend to stick around for reasons previously unknown to me.

All of them have told me it’s because they believe in me, but what does that even mean?

I think I’ve figured it out — they believe in the person I am today and are familiar with my track record. Even when facing challenges, I repeatedly reinvent myself and stumble into new opportunities time and time again.

Let’s just say I tend to pull rabbits out of hats to make things happen.

As a kid, my family moved a lot. Frequently uprooted, I had to find an innovative way to make myself known. This disruption taught me to look for opportunities between the cracks and see things others couldn’t see.

Scientifically, our eyes can’t see everything. If you stare at a single point without moving, the sides of your vision start narrowing in because your eyes are blocking out irrelevant details. This is called tunnel vision.

Tapping into your genius means stripping away those mental blinders and viewing the world from a unique vantage point. When you escape tunnel vision, the invisible world of opportunities around you is revealed.

As genius Albert Einstein said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.”

You must make a conscious effort to open yourself up to new ideas, opportunities, and experiences. They say good things happen to those who wait, but only those things left behind by those who hustle.

To tap into your genius, you must cultivate confidence in yourself and instill that confidence in others.

For example, I was sitting with a friend at a restaurant in Cincinnati. As we chatted, I experienced an epiphany. I pulled out a napkin and drew out a business plan right there. I took known elements of technology and business practices but expanded them into an entirely new line of thinking.

With this idea, I helped develop an entirely new business that resulted in two companies selling for a combined value of nearly $100 million.

Because I believe in myself, these on-the-spot epiphanies come to me out of nowhere.

Let me tell you how to get there in 3 steps:

Step 1: Remove the blinders. We all have mental blinders that prevent us from seeing new opportunities. By taking on new roles, reading books (reading rewires the brain), and meeting new people, these mental blinders are removed.

Step 2: Solve the little problems. People are successful not by solving big problems but by solving minor issues. Tapping into your genius means being able to see the small problems that can grow into big solutions. There is an excellent book by Geoffrey Moore called Crossing the Chasm about finding unique solutions focused on solving 100% of cracks in the market.

Step 3: Take Action. Execution requires overcoming the fear of failure. Ideas have no ramifications. There’s no fear of failure when it comes to ideas because they’re just air. The potential for “failure” causes us to pause and throw up all kinds of mental roadblocks. But to tap into the genius, you have to take action that exposes you to loss. Be courageous enough to take action amidst the likelihood of failure.

Tapping into your genius is an internal battle, but you will find your way through practice and receptivity. Trust in your intuition and the journey.

I raised five daughters — all beautiful and bright. I’m a very proud parent and grandparent. As a father, I worry about whether or not I’ve prepared my children for the real world as it is today — living through Covid and a fast-paced digital age.

My concerns no longer revolve around homework, band practice, and Friday night football games. My children are grown.

But there is still a whole lot of wisdom I’d like to impart to them regarding the world as it is today.

I’m not a carpenter, nor a plumber, can barely change a tire, can’t drive a nail straight, and can’t sing a clear note. I don’t have any traditional skills to pass along to my daughters. I work in marketing.

My children and I used to watch commercials together. Not just the Super Bowl ones, but all kinds of commercials. Commercials on Saturday morning cartoons, Monday Night Football, and Wednesday night American Idol.

I’d always quiz them with the following questions: Who is the intended audience? Why is this commercial aired during this particular show? What is the selling point of the product? What is the message about the consumer? To whom is it being sold? And, how did the commercial make you feel?

In today’s swift digital age we are still inundated by commercials and advertisements on HuluInstagramFacebookSpotify, and YouTube, you name it. Yet, my process for approaching marketing with my children today would be vastly different. Ironically, it would be the same approach I take with my clients, whether they be CEOs, VPs, or sales leaders.

The answer to the question, “Why are we being targeted?” is much more sophisticated nowadays. Websites are tracking our activity online; often, we’ve clicked on some link, and a cookie is following us.

In today’s digital-first world, we are the product AND the marketing. Anyone who has watched the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma will know precisely what it is I’m talking about.

Every action we take as consumers is part of this marketing mix — where people and businesses are making judgment calls based on our activity, our posts, our videos, and all of the various things we’re clicking.

Marketing has undergone an enormous change.

Our comments, our insights, our Yelp reviews, all of these things are now contributing to an overall marketing message.

As we watch the digital-first world unfold in front of us, we need to remember — whether in politics, Hollywood, business, or sports — to be aware of the unanticipated consequences of our actions online. From tweets, posts, blogs, and comments, the internet never forgets.

When my children understand the impact and consequences of their behavior online, it thrills me. Hopefully, I have taught them something useful, even in this fast-paced and technology-driven world.

At one point, my third daughter was sitting beside me reading Seth Godin’s marketing book, The Dip. She was bored, and it was all I had. As she read, I asked her if she understood.

“Some,” she said. “Like the part about being the best in the world.”

“Really?” I replied, “What do you want to grow up to do?”

“I want to grow up and do what you do, Dad.”

As I said, I’m a very proud parent.

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