Keep Leadership Weird! / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

In school, no one ever wants to be considered weird. But often, the “weird” kids become the most successful adults? Here's why.

Keep Austin Weird originated as an expression of anti-commercialism and countercultural values that, ironically, spawned a T-shirt and bumper sticker business and became a marketing slogan of local Austin businesses to promote themselves and the area. Austin learned that it pays to be strange.

Continuing in that spirit, we propose: “keep business weird.” As pointed out by Lifehack, most successful people have done a few things many people consider weird. They have:

  • Sacrificed short-term gain for risky long-term dreams
  • Rebelled against authorities and rejected the benefits of conforming
  • Held tight to views that ran counter to the popular consensus
  • Looked confidently forward, despite repeated setbacks
  • Followed a passion and found ways of getting around obstacles by doing things differently

Related Article6 Signs from Childhood You’re a Born Entrepreneur

Similarly, entrepreneurs “embrace their weird," according to business accelerator, Marketplace Foundations, where a recent blog lists strange things successful people do:

  • Argue for new ways of doing things that ultimately make a business more successful by breaking away from the status quo
  • Confront mistakes rather than hiding them
  • They're Ruthless, holding themselves and everyone else to the highest standards (see, for example, Steve Jobs)
  • Seek Rejection as a “learning experience” to help them plan for the next obstacle
  • Isolate Themselves from the “buzz of success” to plan their next steps and “stay ahead of the game”

According to Inc., embracing these types of traits and keeping your business weird helps your company by:

Making everyone more innovative. When the company leader embraces out-of-the-box ideas and views failures as learning experiences, everyone else in the company will do the same. Sure, there will be some misfires. But the cauldron of creativity encouraged by this approach will produce the distinguishing features and products that can make your company a market leader.

Having fun. People who are having fun in the workplace are more dedicated to their jobs, more creative, and more likely to remain loyal to the company. They are also better team players and serve as “ambassadors” to attract equally enthusiastic and productive talent to the company.

Developing a culture that promotes a mutual sense of purpose to constantly improve and grow. This is the method behind soap maker Method, to “cultivate the kind of environment that inspires the real magic: those everyday individual actions that make our company flourish.”

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