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Tater Tots or Salad?

The other day I was having a conversation and it ended up being one that really impacts the way you think.

I was always taught to ask “what should I have asked? What do I need to know that I don’t know?”

Typically I’m met with the line “Well I don’t know why you don’t know but I would’ve asked …”. That’s such a fair statement, right. You don’t know what someone else does or doesn’t know. I appreciate the feedback on what questions are important to them. It gives me a glimpse of how someone else thinks.

However, when I asked the questions I was met with an answer I fell in love with.

“You asked the questions that were true to you. I don’t think there is anything I could’ve told you to ask.”

This person then went on to tell me a story that I’ll be summarizing for you.

He was at an executive dinner with a group he couldn’t relate to, imagine old money meets white-collar worker. Though that might be an exaggeration it was the mental image that came to mind.

Everyone around him was discussing where they vacation (the Hamptons, Villas in Europe, skiing in Aspen). Once again he couldn’t relate. If he were to vacation it would be to meet Mickey, he didn't grow up going to Disney. It sounded more fun than vacationing in the Hamptons.

The waiter comes to their table with food. Everyone has a salad placed in front of them but my new friend ordered Tater Tots. Once more not relating to the group, but let’s be real tater tots over a salad- that’s the obvious choice.

He said everyone looked at him in mass confusion. His decisions were clearly abnormal choices for this group. From Orlando over France to tots over salad, the old money met the new white collar. Did it affect his job? No. Did some of the people at the table get excited over the tots? DUH, it’s tater tots! Did he stand out in a group of his peers and show he is one of a kind in his own way? 100%.

The moral of the story, at least what I got from it was- be an individualist. Find a way to shine and show who you are, and be that person, but don’t let it affect your group.

A group can’t be diverse if everyone is the same, and we need diversity to flourish.

Diversity comes with new ideas. Having a diverse mindset is the ability to see from many perspectives and tailoring. Diversity is not just the opinions of one group but that of the masses.

It wouldn’t have mattered what questions I did or didn’t ask. Why? Because I knew what I needed to know, and I knew what I wanted to know more about. My brain isn’t going to work the same as anyone else’s. We’re all different and process in our own ways.

I am a big picture person. If I’m told to go make an ad that is for dog owners during the holidays that’s what I’ll do. More than likely I already have an image in my head of what it needs to look like. Don’t get me wrong I will always ask a few follow-up questions but I see the big picture and I’ll figure it out from there. If I have more questions along the way I’ll ask. I don’t need to know the “why” every step of the way.

If it was important or vital to the project I have to trust I was told all that I need to know. If I’m expected to dissect the entirety of a project given to me by someone so they can track my work, that leads to doubt. Not just self-doubt, but the feeling of doubt in your work.

Furthermore, I see that doing two main things that could be detrimental to production.

First, it takes autonomy from the project. It removes the wiggle room and creative freedom you could have with it. Second, it removes the trust. You trusted someone to take this on and they trusted you to tell them all the necessary information. Expecting them to then fractionate work and act as though they’ve never done a project similar, removes trust and confidence.

Confidence, individualism, and correlating teamwork are forms of success. Being true to who you are and what you feel you need to know to be prepared can make a world of difference in the long run.

When everyone is ordering salads, don’t be afraid to get your tater tots. Stand out.

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