“It’s Who You Are, Not What You Do” – Why Not Both?

We usually think of “who we are” and “what we do” as being two different things. If someone asks you who you are, you might respond by talking about things like your background or history, your interests, or your values and morals. If someone asks you what you do, chances are they want to know about your job or profession – how you make a living. The common expression says, “It’s who you are, not what you do,” but who says it can’t be both?

When I was first starting out in the professional world, I spent years doing jobs I hated just to pay the bills and counting down the hours until I could leave the office and go home. But if you’re spending every day waiting for it to be over, what are you actually striving for? Your goal should be to merge who you are with what you do – incorporate what you stand for into your work – so that going to work doesn’t actually feel like “work.”

The day I realized this was the day my life changed. I stopped working jobs I didn’t care about and started making my dream of becoming a professional photographer a reality. I pooled my creative talent with my analytical skill and made a living for myself. Eventually, this led to me building my own marketing agency from the ground up. Now, my wife Christy and I own and operate Potratz, a brand experience and engagement agency in Schenectady, NY.


“Don’t Expect to Receive If You’re Not Ready to Give”

When I first started out in the marketing world, my motto was “sell, sell, sell.” I would drive all around the country pitching my services to prospective clients, and I would normally come home empty-handed. It was frustrating, it was degrading, and I almost threw in the towel on multiple occasions. At one point I did give up – I realized it wasn’t working and I went back home to find a steady job and support my family. However, I kept doing my research because I still had an urge…and a dream.

One night at home, I had a revelation: how could I expect to gain people’s business if I wasn’t giving them anything in return? How could I build a level of trust that would make them want to partner with me? That’s when I first thought of the idea of becoming a resource – providing free, accessible content for business owners, marketers, entrepreneurs, or anyone wanting to start his or her own business.

Right now, I have over 50 talented designers, video producers, web developers, and marketing strategists on my team, and every one of them has valuable knowledge that others can benefit from. My team and I are constantly discussing new ideas, technologies, and strategies to share with the world. Through doing this, we haven’t just gained clients, we’ve gained partners. Our clients trust us to be honest with them and to be on the cutting edge of new marketing techniques, and we deliver.


“Nice Guys Don’t Always Finish Last – Sometimes They Even Finish First”

As I mentioned earlier, your career should be about who you are and what you do. That’s why I strive every day to uphold my moral beliefs and values in and out of the office. I think it’s important that every company or organization has a set of beliefs and values, and that those beliefs and values are communicated to every member of the team.

For example, I have always been raised to be respectful and to resolve conflict through discussion, and this is something I’ve worked hard to carry over into my professional life. In other words, while some businesspeople may choose to micromanage their employees and argue with their competitors on social media, I choose to stay positive. I choose to recognize people as people, even if their opinions don’t align with my own, and discuss instead of argue.

There is a stigma that being a “nice guy” means being weak or insecure; that “nice guys finish last.” However, if you’re spending your life acting arrogant or tough just to prove that you can be, how are you going to form bonds with your clients or customers? How are you going to establish the trust that is so important to establishing these solid relationships?

In short, nice guys don’t always finish last. Sometimes, if you give it a chance, you might even finish first.