Different can be uncomfortable, especially in business. Kelly McDonald, author and founder of McDonald Marketing, pressed this point and many others during a seminar at Innovations 2019, Dot's annual trade show.
"Our differences can create friction," McDonald said. "The frustration is on both sides. Some people think it's too risky to admit that in business … but innovation comes from different ideas and different points of view. Avoiding is not the answer. If you're struggling, you're normal-you're not a bad person, you're not alone, your discomfort is normal."
While it is normal, McDonald told attendees there are many beneficial reasons for working with different types of people, but her No. 1 reason for this: you could miss something big if you surround yourself with people just like you.
She gave the example of SkinnyGirl liquor company: a line of low-calorie alcohol, as women metabolize calories more.
"She approached every major liquor company with her idea and they all turned her down," McDonald said. "She forged ahead, and two years later Beam bought her brand for $100 million. It was a failure of perspective."
McDonald also pointed out the diversity index, and said it is continuously growing. In 2010, there was a 52 percent chance that two people chosen at random would be of a different race or ethnicity. By 2020, that number should be around 65 percent.
"But we're not just talking about racial and ethnic diversity-we can be different politically, socially, fiscally, religiously … introverts, extroverts, morning people, night owls, small business owner versus large corporate executive, and the list goes on," she said.
This change in the diversity index is another reason to show different types of people in marketing. McDonald said that people respond to images that relate to them, either who they are now or who they want to be.
She gave the example that 40 percent of people who are 18 to 35 years old have four or more tattoos.
"If an entire generation of people have ink, why aren't we showing that?" McDonald asked the group.
McDonald also gave a piece of advice to attendees about how to disagree agreeably. She said to say "I see it differently" when working with people not like you. It's not judgmental and helps everyone gain a broader understanding.
"You and your team can do more, achieve more, and enjoy the ride-by accepting we all have differences and they're there to make us better," she said.