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Don't Get Ahead of Your Skis

By Nonfiction

The American writer Upton Sinclair ran for governor of California in 1934. Part of his campaign included writing a visionary piece entitled I, Governor of California, and How I Ended Poverty. It described in vivid detail policies (in past tense) that he implemented as governor (an office he hadn't yet won).

It was a smart move, leveraging his best asset as an author. But the end, he lost the election. He got ahead of his skis. His talk got ahead of him, and the actual doing became less important in his mind.

Companies and brands aren't immune to this, either. Look at what happened with WeWork and their founder Adam Neumann. Depending on how one looks at it, he at least let his ambitions get ahead of his abilities to actually run a business. He couldn't back up his bluster with action. Compare that with a company like Patagonia. For years the company has been backing up the principles of Yvon Chouinard with advocacy, policies, and strategies that sometimes even lose money but show that they truly believe in what they say.

As people on the edge of what's next, as optimists that demand more of the future, it's easy to let talk get ahead of us. It's only natural to get excited about big ideas. But to make a real difference, to really move forward, we have to back it up with action. Remember that as you build your brand.