NOUN. Something that deviates from what is standard, normal or expected.
I imagine that most of you reading this have not heard of Mike Bellot… At least not yet. He’s an anomaly. A Son of Haiti, and still flourishing at the tender the age of 26, Bellot grew up in a setting of extreme poverty. The median per capita income for a Haitian adult is $1900 a year, by far the lowest figure in the Western Hemisphere. Only 33 percent of the homes in Haiti have electricity. Despite his impoverished surroundings, Mike discovered some abundance, a deep well he could tap into every day. Books…
Mike’s super committed to learning all that he can about the subjects that he’s passionate about. He started with old books thrown into the community dump. Later, a computer in a library connected Mike with a vast new world of book titles beyond his imagination; he set out to break free from poverty, obtain a world-class education, and become the type of business leader who’s focused on giving back. Credentialed in international trade and geo politics and thriving as an entrepreneur, Mike never envisioned the day family tragedy would intersect with all his accumulated knowledge and passion.
Several years ago, Mike’s cousin died in a house fire when the lone candle in the house – used by the family to read books at night – fell to the ground and ignited the flooring. The cousin was studying to be a doctor. In the aftermath of all the grief, Mike Bellot experienced a moment of inspiration… Solar Power, LED Lights, A Book bag.
With help from another Haitian student, Mike designed and launched the Solo Bag. Picture your North face bag with pliable solar paneling, integrated rechargeable batteries, a USB port, and plenty of space for your books. With one hour of solar charging, the bag’s light illuminates a study space for six hours of reading. If Mike has his way, 1.2 Billion people without electricity and limited financial means will soon have light at night; light to learn and improve entire communities. HE is an anomaly.
While listening to one of my morning podcasts, I heard serial entrepreneur and marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk say (he is one of my absolute personal favs’ although he’s not everyone’s cup of tea), “If you want to be an anomaly, you have to act like one.” I literally stopped in my tracks at the gym, where I was listening to the podcast, and went back to hear it again: “If you want to BE an anomaly, you have to ACT like one.”
As I listened to Vaynerchuk articulate his definition of anomalies, I realized that I AM one and I ACT like one. For starters, I’ve never been a fan of the status quo, particularly if the status quo doesn’t deliver results. I am constantly advocating for “doing the right thing”, for clients, for employees, for our business…and this isn’t always the easy route. We don’t have break throughs and challenging conversations through passive aggressive dialogue and related tactics – we need to embolden our teams and ourselves to be radically candid with one another. We need to insist on holding ourselves accountable and taking the steps necessary to deliver for those that count on us. If I ever become predictable, and agree to consistently tow the party-line, then it’s time for me to retire and start travelling.
Shortly after joining a new organization (day #3 to be exact), I spoke with my new leader about what I was observing and how different I was from my peers, an anomaly within the well-established organization…he acknowledged it quickly and said “yes, that’s why we hired you” And the next words out of my mouth? “But, are you ready for me”?
I’ll continue to be my authentic, anomalous self…. Because here’s what I know about all great ideas, movements, accomplishments, and innovations… they’re fueled by the vision and drive of anomalies like Mike Bellot. If you consider yourself an anomaly, act like it. The contrarian streak within you is undoubtedly one of your best gifts. If you recognize anomalies in your organization, don’t try to make them conform to the corporate ethos. The anomalies are always the first to bring light to the darkness.