In Business, Be Forward In Coming Forward
By Mike Broderick
In recent weeks, as I’ve been marketing my new freelance voice-over business, a fantastic British phrase has been popping across my synapses.
The phrase, which I think can be helpful in both business and in life, is “backward in coming forward”.
Formally, it means “to be shy and not often express wishes or opinions,” as defined by Cambridge Dictionaries Online.
In common usage, though, I’ve always heard it expressed in the negative: “Jane’s not backwards in coming forward. She’ll always complain if her restaurant order isn’t just right.”
It also seems to have a somewhat negative connotation. My wife Suzanne, who is English, said it might be viewed as a slight pejorative, with a meaning akin to pushy.
Certainly in this context it’s germane to business: It’s never really a great idea to be pushy or rude, and certainly not to potential clients.
But my American brain, steeped in a culture that prizes individuality, self-reliance, and moxie (and marinated in success literature from the likes of Brian Tracy), sees the phrase differently.
For me, “not being backward in coming forward” is positive. It’s a call to action. It’s a rallying cry to take on the marketing and running of my business (including the less pleasant tasks) with gusto.
As entrepreneurs we all face a range of challenges and hurdles that can stop our momentum if we let them. This is particularly true if we hang back and play it safe or give in to the very human temptation to do that which we want to do instead of that which we ought to do.
For some, these hurdles might be making cold calls, organising a direct mail campaign, meeting potential clients, or even invoicing and doing the taxes.
On the marketing side, the challenge is to put your best foot forward, to trumpet your unique selling points, and perhaps, most importantly, to put across your authentic self – all in the face of potential rejection.
The key is to do so confidently and in faith, despite any fears of rejection that may arise.
In voice-over, where auditioning is required, rejection is a regular part of the job even for the most successful voice actors and voice-over artists. It still doesn’t make rejection or running a voice-over business any easier, and a positive attitude and self-generated momentum are critical.
That’s why I like the phrase “not backward in coming forward” so much. It speaks of movement and momentum and action. It even holds within it the business truism that if you’re not going forward, you’re going backward.
An American phrase which was coined by former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Jim Hightower, has also been pinging around my brain. When I lived in Austin, Texas years ago, Mr. Hightower was fond of saying: “There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.”
While Mr. Hightower was speaking about not riding the political fence, I think it reflects that in life and in business you can play it safe, and even be safe, but you won’t necessarily get where you want to go.
So the next time you’re faced with making that cold call, writing that letter, or staring at a great opportunity to market your business, remember, as I plan to, the phrase: “Don’t be backward in coming forward.”
Be confident, be bold, and be brave.
And stay away from those yellow lines and dead armadillos.