Let Your Inner Weirdness Shine

Entrepreneurs are a little weird. They’re quirky and unpredictable. Some of it comes from their unconventional approach to make things happen. Some of it comes from their desire to change the world. And some of it comes from their creativity and ingenuity. Right?

Wrong.

We’re *all* a little weird. The difference with entrepreneurs is that they let their weirdness show. They feel comfortable being who they are at work because it’s their company, their products, their money, and their creation. What you see is what you get. There’s no B.S.’ing, politicking, or maneuvering.

When you work for others, you’re expected to conform to the organization’s culture, standards of professionalism, politics, etc. Those who do, make it. Those who don’t, move on.

I call it the “light switch effect.” When I used to work in corporate America, I felt like I had to turn on a switch when I got to work and become someone I really wasn’t. That made me feel very uncomfortable. And when I left work, I could turn off that figurative switch and go back to being me.

When I went out on my own, I realized the light switch disappeared. I could be myself everyday, all day. Fortunately, as I transitioned into academia, the light switch didn’t reappear, at least not everyday. Universities are wonderful at accepting weirdness but, I must add, they’re more comfortable with faculty weirdness than staff weirdness. But, I digress.

For those of you who aren’t entrepreneurs, find work that takes advantage of your weirdness. Find an employer where you fit in, where you’re comfortable being you, and where other people seem weird. Find a place where your quirks, goofiness, and idiosyncrasies can actually add unique ingredients to the recipe.

For those of you who are entrepreneurs, take advantage of your weirdness. Put your personal stamp on the company, its culture, the way you do things, your mission statement, and how you interact with people. Talk about how weird you, your organization, and your people are. Let that personality come through on your website and in your marketing materials.

No, not all people will respond to it in a positive, constructive way. But you’ll attract people and do business with those who appreciate that weirdness, making for a wonderful workplace for them and you.

Oh, yeah, one more thing. Don’t ever, I mean ever, add that light switch at work.

7 comments

  1. Adam Morden

    Great post Raman. never really fitting in at a regular job was one of the big reasons I started my own business – and one of the main benefits of being my own boss – I can be myself. I’ve really found that my clients are way happier if I act like me rather than start acting in a way that I think they want me too.

    Cheers, Adam

  2. Amanda

    Great post Raman. I can identify with the “light switch effect.” What a feeling to be yourself and have confidence that will add value.

  3. Jackey Cheng

    Hey Raman, today I had to choose between researchers to do my summer undergraduate research. For one, I got the impression that I was suppose to mold into her lab group (cancer biologist), and the other, he was interested in my own weirdness and what I had to offer (infectious disease researcher). I chose to do my project with the infectious disease researcher. It’s interesting to see how small decisions like these can impact your career decisions down the road.

    • Raman Chadha

      Good for you! Such mutual interest will probably help contribute to a better learning experience for you and a better mentoring experience for your researcher.

      There’s a fine line to walk when you have to balance career opportunities with personal principles. Such moments can seem like small decisions at the time but often are turning points in life.

      Stay weird!

  4. elliecm

    I’m on a committee right now where my weirdness is considered a paradigm-changing advantage to some and a frightening prospect to others. It’s a hard balance but every time I think about turning on the light switch at the committee I realize that the whole reason I am there, doing what I am doing, will be lost. It’s sad, do I make my life a little easier or do I give the group my best? Of course I choose the latter because, thankfully, I am incapable of hiding my weirdness.

  5. Rob Mendez

    Raman, this is a great post. It reminds me of being comfortable with being vulnerable. There are two great talks on TED by a psychologist, Brene Brown. She discusses vulnerability and shame. I really believe it applies to all aspects of our lives and can make us that much greater. Cheers!

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