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Underdog Victorious

By Mike Schenker, MAS (originally posted 4/1/2020)

3/7/2023 | PromoJournal Staff, From The Freezer

As we are presently in the throes of the Zombie Apocalypse, I desperately seek ways to keep baseball front and center in my life.  Even in the best of times, baseball brings relief from reality.  If ever there was a time that we needed the distraction of the Grand Old Game, it is now. 

It’s no secret: I’m a New York Mets fan.  I make that statement with neither pride nor remorse.  It’s a simple statement of fact.  Fans who root for the Angels, the White Sox, the Athletics…I believe they can relate to this.  In our home market, we are considered second class citizens.  There’s another team in the area that garners far more attention from the media and the fan base as well.  However, we don’t consider ourselves to be second class.  We simply prefer to root for the underdog.

Does that make us underdogs too?  Is this even a positive quality?

Let’s face it: we all love to tell our war stories.  Like how we turned “No thank you” into “Yes please”.   How we overcame obstacles to win that big contract, or get the girl/guy/other.  You know…the before-to-after that wouldn’t have happened had it not been for the genius we provided. 

Success stories are great, but we also need an underdog story, too.

Remember that time your PowerPoint deck didn’t load for your presentation?  When the airline lost your sample bag?  When some mutant virus kept you from making sales?

Those aren’t the stories you share on Facebook, and especially not on LinkedIn.  We all have our failures and missteps.  We just don’t always share those.

What we fail to recognize is that these (mis)adventures happen to us all.  By sharing those, you show yourself as genuine.  Real.  Warts and all.

I’ve been writing this column for about 25 years (no, not this one in particular, but in general!) and I have certainly shared the highs and lows with my readers.  I’ve also readily admitted to being a Mets fan.  While I, personally, may not be endearing, almost everyone does enjoy a good underdog story.  These are what make us relatable.

Get back onto social media and you won’t have to scroll very far before you find a “How I overcame adversity, cured my acne, and saved the planet” story.  I read those and roll my eyes.  They tend to be a bit over the top for my liking.  Instead, I like to read about people’s realities. 

What is your story?  Is it relatable?  Can others see themselves in it, or at least some comparisons?  What are the parts of your life that make you seem…I don’t know…normal

Look…we all know that I don’t write this column as a feel-good remedy for what ails you.  “Physician, heal thyself” and all that.  If I want to continue to write this column (perhaps more importantly: if I want you to continue to read this column), I have to be genuine.  I don’t want to be a role model.  I like being someone like you.

Years ago, before I’d given any thought to being a writer or a speaker, I used to joke about how unqualified I’d be as a motivator because the worst story I could share was about getting a very bad haircut from my Uncle Joe.  If you’ve been following my story over the last few years, you know that Uncle Joe is way back in my rear-view mirror.  I’ve now got real stories to tell.

What about you?  Do your associates and/or customers see you as someone to whom they can relate?  Those low points in your life or career…what do you think you might have gained from them?  What made the change?  Did you have help?  Can I see myself in what you’re telling me?

Loss, tragedy, failures…you know, those things you’d rather not get into…can they somehow be worked into your story?  Not in a gratuitous way (like, “Oh yeah…you think you’ve had it bad?  Let me tell you about this haircut I once got”), but in ways that will help your associates connect with you on a more personal level

Sure…maybe I’ve been guilty of oversharing at times.  I know that it’s a delicate balance between sharing your humanity while also showing that you have talents and skills that make you appear attractive as an associate. 

So what if you sprayed lobster all over the president of your trade association (oh wait…that was me)?  Did it define you, or did you overcome that embarrassment?  I promise you: someone else…even me…would love to hear your underdog story.  Share.

P.S. If you’re trying to find the connection to a song in the title of this column, look no further than the title itself.  “Underdog Victorious” is the title track from an album by Jill Sobule.  Find it and give a listen.  It tells a good story, too!

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