The theme song to “Rocky” drops, and I can feel the feet of some three hundred or so tuned-up spectators pounding on the floor. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up because, like many others, this feels especially strange after two years in relative isolation. The roar ratchets up at this “Dancing with the Stars”-inspired fundraising event. I tell myself, “Piece of cake, I’ve rehearsed my steps countless times with my dance-pro partner. All 187 sequential moves of a custom Fox Trot, West Coast Swing, Freestyle medley, I’ve got this dance. I’ve done this a million times.”
But, I have not.
I am NOT a dancer. I’ve never performed in front of people before (lip syncing to Huey Lewis and the News in front of my second-grade class does not count).
Instead, I’ve spent the last 12 years at the agency I co-founded helping to create transitional change within national organizations and on behalf of the brands they represent. Change is the expectation. I walk into boardrooms, conference rooms and Zoom rooms where I, along with my team, confidently face business challenges square in the face with the end goal of making change happen. I meet people where they are at, often one-on-one. These same people are brand builders in their own right. I partner with them and align on goals of mutual success. It’s fun. It’s energizing. It’s what I’ve spent most of my career doing and, honestly, it drives me.
So, when the challenge of dancing in front of hundreds to help raise funds for my kids’ school arrived at my doorstep, I jumped at the chance. Why?
Because we at Fellow ask our client partners to show courage in all sorts of new situations. To be that internal brand leader ushering in change at—or just beyond—an inflection point. To be bold in thinking, to win more market share and enhance the customer experience. We help them take the lead in their brand dance, so I believed I could learn a thing or two about meeting the challenge of a new situation: dancing on an entirely different stage. Bonus? Possibly teaching my three kids that trying new things can be a beautiful thing.
Nothing quite prepared me for that rush of the crowd. It is real. It is guttural. It’s forever documented by cameras and by the memories of every family member in attendance. And it was new—that was the whole point. Through sheer will and my ability to pump up the crowd with the gangly arms attached to my 6’5" frame, my dance partner and I advanced to the final round to place second overall. We raised a great deal of money for our school to help advance learning in the arts. And I gained a profound respect for the power of courage and collaboration.
Now I apply those learnings to my work and in my time away from it. So the next time a brand challenge comes your way, let’s be daring enough to do as David Bowie suggests and —“Let’s Dance.”