On the season three finale of the TV show, Glee, Rachel Berry went off to New York to pursue her dreams of stardom to the strains of Room for Two’s, “Roots Before Branches.”
It's a great song and an apt metaphor for both Rachel’s transition into adulthood and a host of other things we encounter in our lives -- work included.
As chorus says…
I gotta have
Roots before branches
To know who I am
Before I know
Who I wanna be
These are great words of wisdom and also the reason why I’ve been in the strategy business for more than a decade.
Everyone needs to know who they are before they can know who they want to be. And sometimes, it's hard to see that when you're looking from the inside. I've been honored and blessed to be able to sit down with many companies and professionals over the years to help them gain that perspective and clarify their path.
Your roots must be in place before you can nurture and grow your branches.
Things like email, print, broadcast, events and social media? Those are branches. (Important branches, yes. But only branches nonetheless.)
Things like Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter? Those are merely twigs.
In order to have the support system to make all of those branches and twigs grow, you need to…
I believe so strongly in the importance of answering these rooty questions, that my firm will turn away projects where clients just want us to build branches with no interest in looking deeper.
Those projects are the kiss of death for vendors. It doesn't matter how great a branch you would build for that client, grafting a giant trunk of wood on a puny stick is ultimately unsustainable and will result in failure. (For example, building a Twitter feed with 5,000 followers but no sense of purpose to drive its content, engagement and growth.)
Yes, the work of building roots is often not glamorous and gets your hands dirty. And it won’t necessarily win you any awards, wow audiences or even get you glory.
But it is the most critical work you can do for your brand.
A person who nurtures roots will ensure the health and longevity of a brand and help to chart a course for innovation, growth and prosperity.
A person who grafts branches…um…grafts branches.
So don't forget to dig deep every once in awhile and focus on your roots. They will give you…
To take chances
To live like I see
A place in this world
And really, newly graduated or mid-career, personal brand or company, isn’t that what we're all looking for?
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.