In his early twenties Ian Rogers, chief experience officer at cryptocurrency company Ledger, got a tattoo on his forearms. The tattoo stretches across his right hand and onto his fingers.
In an interview with the Financial Times in 2018 Ian explains that the tattoo was his younger self seeking to protect him from his potential future self. “The point for me was to never have a job where someone cared if I had tattoos on my fingers,” he says.
Prior to joining cryptocurrency company Ledger, Ian was chief digital officer at the luxury goods company LVMH and a senior director at Apple Music in California. Clearly neither LVMH nor Apple cared about a senior exec having tattoos on his fingers. But of course, there are many employers who don’t accept such body markings.
For Ian, if a company has a problem with his inking, then it isn’t the right place for him to work. Ian’s tattoo is a compass. He doesn’t want to follow convention. He charts his own path, and he’s kept that rebel spirit, that essence of his younger self at the heart of who he is. It ensures he chooses the right way in life. I love that.
Francesca Gino relates the story of an experiment she conducted at Harvard Business School. She taught one class wearing a dark suit and regular smart shoes. For another class she wore a pair of red Converse sneakers with the same suit. After the classes, she reflected on what she found. There was a big difference between the two classes that day. In the red-sneakers class the students were more attentive and thoughtful, and they laughed more.
“Part of the difference, I realised, was likely due not only to the sneakers, but to the effect (the sneakers) had on me…. I felt more confident,” Francesca says. At the end of the class, she gave out a short survey. The feedback was intriguing.“The students viewed me as having greater status when I wore the red shoes,” she writes.
Bringing your inner rebel to work can be empowering, unlocking confidence and creativity. I sense that first hand. It’s why I like wearing my green boots on stage or when leading a workshop. They make me feel more me. And like Francesca, that fuels my confidence.
I’ve learned that the closer I stay to who I really am, the more confident I am, the more success I have. Embracing my own inner rebel gives me an edge.
Our young spirit often gets quashed when we’re older as we’re told we have to toe the line and be serious. Drawing on our youthful edge though might give us the confidence boost we need. It could be embracing an adventurous spirit or a desire to go against the flow, or it might be something quieter but still intrinsically us. It doesn’t have to be tattoos and red shoes. What’s the equivalent that will bring you confidence and energy in your everyday life?