Needed Differences. Three people attended the same event. Why they fit.

Three Rideshare clients were attending the same conference. I know this sounds like the setup for one of those classic “bar” jokes, but they made the cut for my listen-and-learn group this week. They reminded me of the power of needed differences in our teams.

The convention, PRSA ICON, is a gathering of the Public Relations Society of America and it was happening at Nashville’s Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center.

When we pick up clients at the airport, there are two easy options to start a conversation: “Welcome home” or “Welcome to Nashville!” Most of the time, I can decide by looking at their luggage and clothing. However, the second option is to read the body language. Tourists tend to have more wonder and curiosity in their eyes and vocal greetings.

clients #1 & #2

This was the case with Client #1 this week. When I swiped the phone at the beginning of the ride, I knew she was going to the Opryland Hotel. “Welcome to Nashville! What brings you to town?”

For the next 15 minutes, she told me about the PRSA and her job as a PR executive for a major industry. I listened intently because her expertise was above my pay grade and I wanted to ask good questions. There were international business environments, AI, and employee-strike discussions during our short ride.

An hour later, I picked up Client #2 at BNA, and with a swipe on the app, I knew she was going to the Opryland Hotel. She wasn’t as engaging as the first client so I risked it when I asked, “In town for the PRSA convention?” She replied with a sigh, “Yep.”

“That must be a room full of people second-guessing and analyzing everything said in a conversation,” I said. She loosened up, smirked, and said, “It’s a haven for a large group of extroverts.” Then, her punch line, “I’m an introvert.”

I took the bait and said, “I’m a natural introvert but a trained extrovert. It’s the best of both worlds and a gift only available to introverts. It doesn’t work the other way.” She said, “I like that. Never thought of it that way.” We spent the next few minutes discussing personality traits and how she prepares to be in the moment with her clients.

client #3 with a mic-drop moment

After I dropped off Client #2 at the hotel, I picked up Client #3 at the same hotel. I call it Premiere Efficiency. We don’t have to drive to pick up the next rider. It was a short ride to her destination, and I knew she was a tourist so I led with the easy line, “What brings you to town?”

Like the previous two, she was attending the PRSA. I found out she was from New Orleans, and I made the connection about living there during some of my childhood. We had a “Who Dat?!” moment. Then she wanted to talk about the Opryland Hotel. “Yeah, it’s pretty cool. A hotel with a river and restaurants,” I said.

She talked aggressively about the vast size of the facility and the difficulty navigating from meeting to meeting. She didn’t think it was very user-friendly. Her main critique was the lack of concern she was getting from the staff about her questions.

“Well, you’re in public relations and you probably see things the average person doesn’t,” I said. Then, her mic-drop moment. “Oh, they see it. They just don’t know what to do next, or they don’t have the courage.” Boom. Insightful.

Client #1: She was bright, and articulate and she didn’t suffer fools. I would be over-prepared for her meetings. Client #2: An adapter and someone who didn’t buy into all the hype, but she knew how to navigate the moment. Client #3: She’s the problem solver, but her real gift is the courage to say, “This isn’t the best.”

can I encourage the noise, but manage the chaos?

When we evaluate our staff and players, are we looking for differences? I don’t mean differences for the sake of being different. Nope. You need to be good and effective. As leaders, are we encouraging the noise, but managing the chaos?

Are we secure enough to hire and enable people based on what the organism needs and not just what I like?

Tuesday’s gone. It’s the middle of the week. Before you evaluate your staff, evaluate yourself and ask, “Am I open to people who don’t fit my mold, but are effective for the needs of the product?”

(This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on October 18, 2023)

Ron Harrell

Ron Harrell

Ron Harrell is a contemporary media consultant specializing in brand analysis, strategy, execution, and talent coaching for radio and audio mediums. Connect for a No Cut & Paste review.

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