Guest Post

Find Your Core

by Drew McLellan

When the recession hit, many companies lost their nerve. They began to second-guess their own decisions. They compromised on what they believed was right because right was too expensive. They chased after business that wasn't really a good fit — because any business was better than the potential of no business.

And they lost their way. A side effect of being lost is being scared. Sometimes being scared leads to being paralyzed. In my opinion, that's why this recession got so bad.

We got scared and we got stuck.

It's time for us to find our nerve and get ourselves out of this recession. I highly doubt there's going to be a bailout for any of us.

So how do we break loose from our fear and get some nerve? We get back to our core.

When a person has a strong connection to his or her own values, morals and belief structure — he or she seem to be able to weather even the toughest storm and stand firmly in place. No matter what gets thrown at them, they stay centered.

I'm not suggesting they're infallible or super human. But they are grounded in their own truth. They've done the hard work of figuring out who they are and what they stand for. (Which by default means they have also figured out who they are not and what they won't stand for.) And that hard work and self-understanding creates an anchor of sorts. An anchor that helps them avoid drifting every time the wind blows or being pulled from their spot during a particularly difficult life storm.

The same is true for an organization. When a company has done the difficult work of truly understanding their brand — they are anchored by their own beliefs. That's the source of their nerve. They know themselves and don't have to over-think every decision. It's organic. It's instinctual. And it is a business lifesaver.

Sooner or later, every business leader is faced with an Oh Shit! moment as coined by my friend Steve Farber in his book Radical Leap. When your brand is intact, those moments can't derail you. You're able to meet them with conviction and just “flow” through them. Your brand acts like a gut check and you intuitively know the right course of action.

The businesses that understood and embraced their brand before the recession like Apple, Zappos and Thomas A. Johnson Furniture Company are having a fantastic 2009. Why? They stuck to their core. They chased after only right-fit customers. They didn't try to sell something they weren't brilliant at doing. They didn't let the economy or a slowdown change the core of who they are.

They simply stayed true to their brand and as a result, they weathered the storm much better than most organizations. It's time that we all follow suit.

To find your nerve — find your core.

Drew McLellan helps clients discover their story so they can create authentic love affairs with their customers. He blogs at, is an author, national speaker and has owned his own marketing agency in the Midwest for the past 15 years.

  1. Drew,

    You couldn’t be more right. In the nonprofit world (as well as for-profit) we see folks every day try to be all things to all people in order to raise more revenue. What they forget is that those who believe in what they do – why do we exist – have a wonderful story to tell. Those who beieve in your story will continue to support you (or buy from you, etc.) when there are choices to make. I am very pleased to say that with a very narrow and specific mission our 2009 giving is right on track!

    Comment by Shirley Patterson — 10/20/2009 @ 1:09 PM

  2. Drew – I couldn’t agree with you more. It was surprising to me how many potential clients would tell me about crazy budget cuts in the area of marketing where they really needed it most. They knew it was wrong but were simply freaked out by the economy.

    Well said.

    Comment by Jeff Walden — 10/20/2009 @ 4:37 PM

  3. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by MWCemily: When a company has done the difficult work of truly understanding their brand, they are anchored by their own beliefs. –

    Trackback by uberVU - social comments — 10/20/2009 @ 9:19 PM

  4. Drew – Great reminder that even though most of the media is touting recession, businesses sticking to their core values and continuing to support their customer base, continue to do well. As the holidays approach, I hope we all remember to be thankful for those that brought us to the dance, and waltz with them again.

    Comment by Beverly A. Koehn — 10/21/2009 @ 10:34 AM

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