A Word About Stereotypes and Our Banner Guy

That little man up there?  On the banner?  Banner Man.  Seriously? 

When I started working as a bank teller, women were not allowed to wear pants.  This was 1991.  In college I was counseled to wear navy hose when interviewing with accounting firms.  Taught not to stand out, I was Banner Girl.  Now I know better.  I know the way you present yourself depends entirely on the context.  If you need to look like Banner Guy to succeed, then do what you must.  But if not, get up right now and do a happy dance.

Perhaps trying to counteract his stiff manner of dress, Banner Man gives a thumbs up.  He’s probably one of those catch word guys.  You know the type.  Everything is Amazing! or Outstanding! or my current peeve – Phenomenal!  I’m not complaining about the choice of graphic, but rather wondering why it’s our image of successful business.  There are other stereotypes.  Tech people are supposed to be disheveled, advertising folks fashion forward, and engineers a bit mis-matched. 

You Can’t Fake It 

I once worked with a guy who was all Outstanding! and sniffing up to every senior manager who walked by.  He networked himself at every opportunity and left a trail of sticky compliments wherever he went.  What happened to this guy?  He wasn’t advancing as fast as he thought he should, so he hopped firms – went to work for the competition.  I never ran across him again.  Maybe he skyrocketed to the top of his new home and that’s why we didn’t cross paths, but my guess is he got tired of faking it and moved on to something else entirely.  Maybe he found himself.

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The truth is some people are Banner Guy.  They’re slick, energetic, and always seem to be on.  Their shirts are always pressed and they smell like a salon.  It works for them.  It works because it’s who they are.  But there are very few of them.  The ones who are truly successful are that way because they aren’t faking it.  If you want to be successful in business, you need to know who you are and then apply yourself to your business.  It doesn’t work the other way around.  You can’t decide what you want and then try to form yourself around it. 

Who is Banner Guy and why is he our stereotype?