I’m a bookworm. I feel no shame in saying that. Lately, I’ve been engrossed in Originals: How Non-Conformists Move Through The World by Adam Grant. I’m about halfway through but one of the concepts that stuck out to me was the idea of the middle-status conformity effect. Grant writes that in looking at the hierarchy of an organization, those at the top felt they had more freedom to deviate from the norm and be trailblazers. Likewise, those at the bottom had little to lose and everything to gain by bucking the status quo. It was the folks in the middle — who incidentally make up the bulk of the employees — who felt they had the most to lose from rocking the boat and thus fought to maintain the norms so as to not jeopardize their standing. So basically, we have a ton of middle managers out there who are not thinking outside the box and who are much more likely to also shoot down new and original ideas from their subordinates. Not great for business, right?
This concept was striking to me because I’ve seen it play out with clients time and time again. Hell, I’ve felt it myself. When I first went out on my own as an entrepreneur, I had nothing to lose. I tried new ideas, pivoted my business when it wasn’t working, failed and tried and failed again. But as I continued to grow my business and become more known for the work I do, I felt much more nervous about trying completely new things or adding new aspects to my business. I had more to lose if things didn’t work out.
The same is true for the business owners and brand managers I talk to who are struggling to incorporate more of themselves into their brand. Who feel compelled to do things in a different way to better connect with their core customers but fear alienating their other customers or facing backlash from the general public. So they continue to do things as they’ve always been done and as a result don’t stand out in the market. It’s hard to take a risk when you’ve reached a certain point in your life or business, even if that risk will bring more gains.
For the past few months, I’ve been working on an adventure retreat for women of color here in Salt Lake City. If I’m honest, I dragged my feet on creating the experience even though I knew I really wanted to because I felt that it didn’t make sense with the current structure of my business. But once I cut through all of my own negative self-talk and doubt, I realized that advocating for more diversity in the outdoor space was in fact very much in line with the core values we practice here at Wylie & Co. I think it’s important for all spaces to reflect the richness and diversity of our actual world. Representation matters and I’m excited to help do my part to change the face of the outdoor industry by hosting adventurous women of color here in Salt Lake City at the end of September for a 4-day retreat. I’ve already seen the positive results from organizing the retreat and am excited about the new opportunities and avenues this will open up for my business.
Do you have an idea for your brand that seems out there but is connected to your brand’s core values? What could you do to start moving that idea forward? The world, after all, belongs to the Originals. Don’t get stuck in the middle status conformity trap.
Are you a woman of color looking to reconnect with yourself and form new bonds all while going on an adventure? Check out Color Outside: a 4 day adventure retreat for women of color.