Nobody Likes Plastic Flowers – NBA Draft Edition

Shortly after basketball star Markelle Fultz was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the first pick in the NBA Draft last week, he posted the following on Instagram, “Exited to head to (City) and join the (team name).”

No, seriously… that’s what he posted.

It's not difficult to know what happened here. We all know that some polished PR person provided him with a very safe template of what to post. However, his oversight/laziness to fill in (enter city here) and (enter team name here) isn’t the focus of this post. This post is about not stifling your personality and emotions in your communications throughout various aspects of your life or day-to-day exchanges.

Sure, we’ve all seen social media mishaps over the years from professional athletes to business professionals. So, we all understand the reasons for these people to, “play it safe” on social media. However, here is a young man who’s realizing his dream of becoming an NBA player, and he’s told (we all know for endorsement reasons) to not show excitement... act “professional” …

This reminded me of a section – Nobody Likes Plastic Flowers – in one of my favorite business books, ReWork by 37signals. It spoke to the importance of authenticity throughout your communications.

As technology continues to shift the ways in which we communicate with one another, it's not an excuse or reason to be robotic, boring or disingenuous.

Regardless of how technology is allowing us to communicate when we’re not face to face, at the end of the day, people still (and forever will) enjoy working with people… you know, real human beings with real emotions, real personalities. If you’re someone who sits at your computer the entire morning writing and rewriting “the perfect” four-paragraph response email with three paragraphs of unnecessary fluff, people think you’re fake… and you probably are.

Here are a few tips to help you stand out from all the other plastic flowers who are filling up other people’s inboxes:

  • Don’t be afraid to show your personality. We all know people who are colorful in emails and other correspondences, and we end up looking forward to receiving emails from them. You know them, I know them... it's OK to be that person.
  • Being genuine doesn’t mean writing long-winded emails, either. People often forget others are busy, too.  For some reason, we all grunt and groan when someone sends a page-long email to us... we may skim over the first paragraph and stop reading. Yet for some reason, we think others enjoy reading emails that require the stamina of an olympic athlete.  If it can be short and concise, let it.
  • In the event you’re sending a similarly structured email to a handful of individuals who you genuinely value, don’t open with something like, “Dear valued customer” or “Dear thought leader.” I’d imagine their first thought would be, “They couldn’t take 20 seconds to individualize this… how valued am I?” or “I may be a thought leader in the area of ___, but it's clear they don't value me enough to personalize this."

There are two simple caveats to this:

  • Use some common sense
  • Don’t be a jerk

Oh, and back up to the example of Markelle Fultz being draft first overall in this year’s NBA Draft. Why stifle emotions? What’s wrong with one of these?

  • “How cow, my dream just came true. I’m super stoked to be joining the 6ers”
  • “Hey Philly… let’s do this! I can’t wait to get there.”

PS - If you're a business professional looking for different ways of looking at work, growing efficiency or cutting the BS "office" norms from your day-to-day, I'd fully recommend you read ReWork . It's a very easy read, but it'll surely change the way you think about work.  It's available on Amazon here --> Purchase ReWork.

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