151. Some thoughts on why you might want to have a strong theme even if it seems weird
Humans are fickle creatures. We don’t pay attention. We don’t do nuance. We don’t remember. And we can’t be bothered.
So if you want to stand out, you need to make it easier for people to remember you. This goes professionally as well as personally. Some people do this naturally, while others benefit from some conscious work.
If you always wear a spiked leather jacket, have an orange mohawk that’s spikier than said jacket and recite nihilist poetry at the drop of a hat, chances are good that you’ll be remembered. And if you happen to be an investment banker, people will definitely remember you at professional conferences!
This goes both ways, of course. If all your friends look like they stepped out of the London punk scene in the early 80’s, putting on a suit is enough to make you stand out.
And what does this have to do with theming?
It’s a way of doing this in an elegant (or at least semi-elegant) way. Make use of the fact that people need memory hooks to hang their mental image of you on. Whether you’re “The Archer Guy” (my friend Lars Andersen), “The Swordfighter (a female friend) or “The Larp Guy” (which I am to many) doesn’t matter.
The important thing is that people have an easy way of describing you and remembering you.
We’ll use penguins as an example theme.
Say you like penguins. You might have fluffy penguin slippers at home, some pencils with penguin heads and a t-shirt you love that has penguins on it. Penguins speak to you somehow, and they make you smile. In general, you feel life would be better with more penguins.
So how do you take your love of penguins and use it for your theming?
Simple. You start using it actively.
Doing a lecture about design thinking? Use an example that involves penguins.
Choosing a logo for your business? Do a stylized penguin.
Opening a conversation with an ice-breaker joke? Mention that there two types of penguins – the white ones who walk towards you, and the black one who walk away from you.
Become the penguin lady.
I’m not suggesting that you stop doing what you or become any less professional. I’m just suggesting that if you love penguins and you don’t already have a strong theme for your personal brand/impression/call-it-what-you-will, then go full penguin.
Sure, some people will think that you’re a little weird. But weird is the new normal, and people with passion are inspiring. Plus, penguins are cool and fun and charming. Who doesn’t like penguins, right?
So put them to work.
When you’re making notes, draw a quick penguin and make the notes speech bubbles, that it presents the reader with.
Get a keychain piece that’s a miniature penguin.
Rename your blog to “Chirps from a Los Angeles penguin”.
The best way to be remembered is to be memorable, and the easiest way to do that is to stack the deck a little. Don’t tip it. Don’t dress up in a penguin onesie or start wearing penguin half-masks every day.
Just theme your life enough that it’s noticed, but not so much that it freaks people out.
Post-disclaimer #1: Of course it doesn’t matter if you’re into penguins or vintage clothes or smooth jazz. It matters that you let a passion become a theme.
Post-disclaimer #2: This isn’t a command. It’s advice. If you don’t like it, don’t do it. I’m presenting you with a tip, and you’re more than welcome to ignore it!
Post-disclaimer #3: I often wear mismatched socks. That’s not a theme. That’s just sloppy. It’s not the same.
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