The Story Economy Blog

The State of Ohio, The State of Cats, The State of Being Gotten

When I was 10, this picture of me appeared in the newspaper. A newspaper photographer came to the gymnastics meet I was in that Saturday and took a bunch of shots. The shot of me made it, and Monday at school, I was a minor celebrity for a day. The teacher made a big deal of it, tacking it up on the bulletin board. I got to be first in line for lunch, and pass out the worksheets (big honors, as I recall).

I always felt like the quiet girl who no one really “got.” So although a little part of me enjoyed it, mostly, I was embarrassed by the attention. Because even in this moment of popularity, I felt like people were no closer to getting me.

Living in Ohio, the most crucial swing state in this election, is a lot like that experience. We’re boring flyover country most of the year, until a flurry of ads and attention is desperately dropped on us weeks before a big election. Now, don’t worry. This newsletter is NOT about politics. I would never do that to you.

It’s about the difference between being noticed and being gotten. Because I’ve been noticed, and I’ve been gotten, and I can tell you, they are not always one in the same.

Don’t Wake a Sleeping Cat

There is a real preoccupation today with getting noticed, probably because it’s relatively easy to do. I call it notice-me-marketing, and I see it happening with small businesses that try so hard to get noticed just because. But as the shy kids and swings states can testify, being noticed doesn’t equate to being gotten. And people mostly only join you or buy from you when they get you.

There are plenty of modern playbooks that tell you how to get noticed. If you have a big budget, it’s fairly straightforward: you just buy it through advertising or sponsorship.

But you can’t buy your way into being gotten.

So how do you help the world get you? Where is the playbook for that? I know that I can’t look to either my 10-year-old self or the Electoral College for ideas. I also don’t think most marketing models are particularly helpful. And I don’t think the SEO gurus will be much help on this one either.

We have to look in much more organic places. Like . . . my cat.

My cat, Seattle, is about one thing: sleeping. Everything he does in life relates to sleeping. He needs everyone he comes into contact with to get that about him, because if you don’t, it might impede his ability to sleep at that exact second.

The way he does this is to sleep all of the time, and everywhere (he’s sleeping at my feet as I write this). Every walk he takes through the house is in search of a cozy place to sleep. Just so that I remember every day that he is all about sleep, he leaves trails of cat hair behind in all of the places he’s slept. His entire soft grey body radiates both the desire to sleep and the ability to sleep.

There is absolutely no question that sleep is what Seattle is about. And if a camera crew followed him around for a day, there’s no doubt anyone watching would get him immediately. And from there, they could decide. Yes, I am board with sleeping all day: sign me up! Or: no, such slumber is not for me. I opt out.

If a camera crew followed you around for a day, would the people watching get what you’re about? Would the conversations and projects and emails and action items that you fill your day with be the pieces they would need to get you? My cat is so committed to sleeping that he does it all day. What are you so committed to that you do it all day, because it’s the only thing that makes sense for you to do?

When the noticing happens, what will people not fail to notice? Because there will be something they don’t fail to notice: the question is, is it the thing you’re about or not?

When your message and your story is built into the fabric of what you do, that’s when people start to get you. So, if you want people to get that your brand is about helping people uncover their passion, then that ability and desire should be obvious from how you answer your phone to the way you dress to the people you surround yourself with. If you want people to get that you can help them create wealth and abundance, then you should approach your business and personal relationships from a place wealth and abundance.

Of course, none of us are perfect, or clear 100 percent of the time. But if the built-in stuff isn’t there most of the time, how will people ever get what you’re about?

Now, my home state of Ohio: we’re far from a cohesive brand. We’re weird and hard to pin down, and have not done a great job of collectively living a thing that people can’t fail to notice. That’s what happens in a part-urban, part-suburban, part-exurban, part-farmland, part-rust belt state.

But in about a week, Ohio will be old news. People will be looking for something else to notice. Like your business.

Are you ready?

Leave A Comment

Related Posts