Everyone knows a Bob. He is your uncle, your next door neighbor or your Dad’s friend from college.
“You know Bob, right?”
“Oh, of course I do. Hey, Bob, how’s the wife and kids?”
It is the most unassuming name there is. It is the small pickup truck…the quarter-pounder with cheese…the denim shirt of names in the United States.
Being a Bob, however, could have some drawbacks. Since everyone knows a Bob, how can you make yourself known if you happened to be christened with that label. In a world of Bobs, how do you make yourself stand out?
I have seen this dilemma occur with business. “Hi, we’re in IT, and we provide um…technology solutions.” Or, “I like to blog about innovation, creativity and leadership.” Wait, that one hits too close to home.
You may be the best company ever, but, as far as most people are concerned you are Bob…an IT company or some blogger.
There is no reason to fight this. Don’t try to be an Alejandro. You very well may be Bob. There is nothing wrong with Bob…in fact, being Bob has some great advantages, since people are comfortable and familiar with Bob. Embrace your Bobness.
In my experiences, I have met some Bobs that have transcended their moniker. They have made a profound impact on both my personal and business life. I sometimes even forget that they are named Bob. I only remember the difference they have made in the way that I think.
Here is a Possibly Incomplete List (in no particular order) of The Best Business Bobs (and sometimes Roberts or Robs since this is my blog and I can cheat if I wanna):
Bob Sommers – If you want to meet someone that understands how to be approachable and likable, look no further than “Maui Bob.” His website, Recognized Expert, is an incredible resource to entrepreneurs, writers, bloggers or anyone who wants to get known on the web. More importantly, Bob is a good person. When you get done talking to Bob, you can’t help but feel good about yourself.
Favorite quote: “Likability is not your ability to make everybody like you. It is your ability to make others feel liked.”
Bob Costas – Not necessarily a “business” Bob, but a master of personal branding. How can you not like Bob Costas? Consistent. Cool. Humble. Mr. Olympics (even when he is putting the smack down on ego-driven athletes).
Favorite quote: “I don’t believe there’s a single American sitting around saying, ‘I’d like to see Bob Costas’ take on this.’”
Bob Burg – Author of the books, The Go-Giver and Endless Referrals. More than an expert on stratospherically successful life attitudes, he is also a student of business thinking. Having a conversation with this Bob is like talking to a library of business knowledge and application.
Favorite quote: “I think perhaps the most prevalent false-dilemma question is: ‘Would you rather be rich OR happy?’ What an awful question. Why not be both? And far too many people have bought into that artificial contradiction. Let’s instead see the world as one of abundance. In this great country, if you can create, if you can add value—you can be rich and happy.” From BusinessWeek.
Robert Kiyosaki – The first non-Bob. The Rich Dad guy – author of many books, notable speaker and personal financing guru. Some of his truths can be hard to swallow, but there is no finer analysis of how the rich get richer and how to think differently about what wealth means.
Favorite quote: “A lot of people are afraid to tell the truth, to say no. That’s where toughness comes into play. Toughness is not being a bully. It’s having backbone.”
Robert Skandalaris – An innovator, author, smart entrepreneur and philanthropist…Skandalaris is the type of guy who has his name on the side of buildings. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurship at Washington University. An inspirational guy who walks an innovative, fearless walk.
Favorite quote: “Innovation is America’s last bastion of competitive advantage…”
Bob Kochan – A guy who is not afraid to be a little goofy…Bob was named one of Small Business Monthly’s Top 20 Under 20. Starting out his professional career as a Six Flags magician, he now owns Kochan and Company (founded in 1987), an innovative and fun advertising company in St. Louis that continues to grow.
Favorite quote: “I look for talented, enthusiastic people, so we have low turnover. It’s a family environment, so we check our egos at the door.”
Rob Amberg – Another advertising/marketing guy, Rob is the vice president and general manager of Cushman/Amberg Communications. He has a cool blog where he shows his abilities at telling a relevant business story…he understands both the value and the costs of Internet marketing.
Favorite quote: (from his blog) “When it comes to marketing ‘shoes’ you can only last in the painful eye-catchers for so long. And you’ll know when that time comes. It’s when you have to walk the talk. The rest is just show and tell.”
Bobby Knight – The opposite of likeable. Not a business man, but one heck of an inspiring leader and clearly a passionate person. I can’t say that I agree with his style, but 1. I have not coached successful teams and 2. his ability to inspire greatness is clear – 902 NCAA Div. I wins, 3 National Championships and 11 Big Ten Championships. Most of his players graduated.
Favorite quote: “You don’t play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball.”
Robert Sutton – You know him…he’s the No Asshole Rule guy. Anyone who can get the Harvard Business Review to print the a-dash-dash-hole word is to be revered. The management science professor from Stanford has the cajones to call most workplaces on their rudeness and lack of civility…and his research is impeccable. Also wrote – Weird Ideas That Work – another must-read for any entrepreneur.
Favorite quote: “Indeed, I am starting to believe that, as a management professor, part of my job is to teach people when indifference is more useful than passion.”
See all the magic and inspiration that can come from a Bob? See the irony in Bobby Knight and the No Asshole Rule guy in one blog post?
ANSWER ME THIS
What is the Bob about your business that you have not really made shine? People like a Bob. They can relate to a Bob. They feel comfortable with Bob. The Bob is the human part of your business that is authentically more concerned with the client or customer than itself…it achieves great things without suffering the sin of significance.
Let your Bob shine.
Do you know any good Bobs that I missed? Please post your favorite Bob.
– Jeremy Nulik, Creative Energy Officer, St. Louis Small Business Monthly