Be Who You Are

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Be Who You Are

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by Mark Levy

How can you make a difference in your organization and in the world? I know of a small yet potent way: Make sure your job reflect who you really are, because who you really are is where your energy lies. Let me illustrate what I mean by telling you about Joel Bauer.

Bauer is a trade show pitchman who The Wall Street Journal Online calls “the chairman of the board” of corporate trade show rainmaking. Over the course of his career, Bauer estimates that he’s pitched to twenty million people, and has created three million leads for his clients.

What’s his secret? He understands human nature. Bauer knows that what fascinates him will fascinate others-and he brings that knowledge to his work.

Since he was six years old, Bauer has been addicted to unusual entertainment forms, such as magic, stage hypnosis, and carnival stunts. At a trade show, then, he uses a number of intriguing entertainment tools to capture and sway a crowd.

For instance, he might charge into an aisle, cock a rubber band in one hand, and fire it along the floor, where the band rolls forty feet, fast, fast, fast, and just as everyone thinks it’s about to die, it reverses direction and races back to his waiting hand.

Or, he’ll read the mind of a volunteer who he’s never met before.

Or, he’ll use his fingertips to divine the serial number on a borrowed dollar bill, while his eyes are sealed with gauze pads and electrical tape.

Whatever the oddity, you can be sure that it’s helped him attract a crowd, and once that crowd is happy, Bauer starts his pitch.

To be more effective, try approaching your work like Bauer approaches his. That doesn’t mean you should shoot rubber bands and read minds. What it means is that you needn’t wall up who you really are when you get to work.


  • Think about making a hobby part of your business. I know a man who wanted to give seminars on financial planning, but thought numbers would bore his audience. How did he overcome this hurdle? Besides being a planner, he was also a jazz guitarist, so instead of dry seminars, he gave “financial concerts.” He’d play the guitar, discuss finance, and use one subject to shed light on the other.12
  • Think about making a much-loved past career part of your current career. Bill Treasurer, the man who compiled this book, did just that. For ten years, he excelled as a professional theme-park daredevil. Bill’s act? He’d climb a ten-story tower, set himself on fire, and dive into a water tank. Eventually, he wanted a new challenge, so he went into coaching and consulting-and took his daredevil ethic with him. Now, Bill’s company, Giant Leap Consulting, builds courage in organizations by teaching leaders and employees how to take important business risks.

Mark Levy is the founder of Levy Innovation, a marketing strategy firm that makes people and companies compelling. He is the author, or co-creator, of four books, including Accidental Genius: Revolutionize Your Thinking Through Private Writing (Berrett-Koehler, 2000), which has been translated into five languages. Visit him on the web at