Refuse to be Vanilla

In Living Your Strengths by Renata Jabuka

What does ice cream have to do with women’s leadership and entrepreneurship in dentistry?

Well, let’s grab a spoon and have a taste!

Vanilla is the one-size-fits-all flavor. Liked by most people, it is a comfortable, predictable, and safe choice.  

It’s also a great metaphor for how dental professionals tend to operate. Fitting in and working as a ‘team player’ seems like a solid default in a generally conservative industry with traditional roles and hierarchies. We’re all familiar with this dynamic and the bubble of routine and security. 

 Now, along comes purple yam. Far fewer people like purple yam ice cream. It is a distinct and polarizing choice. And, I would venture to say, a fascinating one, because the people who like it usually love it—like crazy, crazy love it. 

 While there aren’t as many purple yam fans around, this standout flavor has a competitive advantage. Rather than dumbing down its taste for the masses, this colorful oddball focuses on its niche: a raving fan base with a taste for the unique. 

The goal of purple yam is not to appeal to everyone, but to engage fewer people at the highest level of enthusiasm and loyalty. 

As a fledgling or experienced female leader/entrepreneur in dentistry, are you vanilla or purple yam? 

I Yam What I Yam

I’m ultra-passionate about all things fascinating, especially when it comes to entrepreneurial branding, product development, and business building. 

 I guess I was always a closet purple yam, trying my hardest to be vanilla. But something always felt off, or at best, out-of-sync. 

Why did I hate wearing the same scrubs as my teammates? Why was I always in search of a better way to do something or be more efficient, when others accepted the status quo? Why couldn’t I do patient scripting when asked to communicate in a prepackaged or specific way? And why was I so very competitive? 

Why, why, why?!  

My answers came from an unexpected source

 Deep down, I had an unspoken need to be my own person, do my own thing, and operate differently. I wanted to do what felt natural and comfortable. How frustrated I was, working in a profession that, at that time, did not seem to allow for the creative flow of individual contributors. 

Things got better for me once I transitioned into corporate sales and sales leadership. I could express myself more freely, account for my own efforts and be rewarded for them, and influence and get results from my sales team.  

As a sales leader, I was always looking for ways to inspire, motivate, and get better results from my team. Happy, incentivized salespeople keep revenue goals growing and their enthusiasm to achieve is high.  

An ongoing part of my leadership role was to demonstrate new ways to work, communicate, and improve everything to do with sales. But something was missing for us. For all the self-assessments, self-searching, and sales challenges I put out there, a nagging gap still existed. 

 It was not until I left the corporate world that I stumbled upon Sally Hogshead and her emerging startup, How To Fascinate. Instantly attracted to her methodology and motto, “different is better than better,” I jumped in with both feet. In 2013, I was among the first people Sally trained to become an advisor, and I have never looked back. 

Closing the gap with Fascination

 Sure, you can change who you are to be accepted, but becoming more of who you are makes you extremely compelling to others. Unlike typical personality tests, the outward-facing How to Fascinate assessment helps individuals understand how the world sees them at their best—not how they see themselves.  

The assessment identifies unique personality advantages with powerful language that helps you elevate your credibility, knowledge, and business skills. It is a roadmap to defining your value, differentiating yourself, and growing your personal brand.  

You become more fascinating and distinctive, and less like invisible spam, taking up space in this overcrowded world. 

Back to ice cream (wink, wink)

So, why do we women leaders and entrepreneurs need to be more purple yam than vanilla? And what does this have to do with fascination?  

Purple yam is different. As such, it is more exciting, and yep, more fascinating. Do you struggle to be the best, or are you ready to aim higher and project a different, more fascinating version of yourself and/or your business in a world of ordinary?  

Building a standout career or business in dentistry today means being different, not better. You want your brand, reputation, and business to spark that unique and intense emotional focus and connection in your patient/client/upline manager. 

Knowing how to captivate frees you from self-imposed distractions so you can ‘hook’ people the moment you start communicating with them. Creating this kind of unique experience enables you and your business to generate the ‘must be a part of’ type of emotional loyalty that most dental practices and sales professionals can only hope for. 

So, what makes you different?  

Do you…

Offer unique skills that would make an employer sit up and take notice? 

Take a business process and make it different, compelling, and proprietary?

Turn something mundane into a quirky feature that attracts purple yams?

Communicate process, product, or situational flaws with confidence and make them appealing to your specific fan club? 

Motivate others toward a higher level by making all things seem possible, real, and attainable? 

Captivated people want to hold on to the deliciously positive feelings you generate and do something with them. Their desire is your opportunity to lead more authentically, sell more product, emerge on a team as an essential member, or just plain get better results and win! When you communicate to your audience, you are either boring or fascinating. In this distracted millisecond-to-millisecond world, there is no in-between.  

You are cordially invited to Fascinate

At The Women’s Launch Table, a company I recently co-founded, we use How to Fascinate assessments to help our members see their innate qualities and quirks as intentional strengths and brand pillars.

Come share your originality! The real you is inherently fascinating. Show others your true worth and be seen by others and yourself as more valuable, memorable, and ultimately, more successful.

Learn how to clearly define your “why” (your passion and big purpose), and you can start moving in a more positive career or entrepreneurial direction.  

When you create fascinating experiences that elicit strong and immediate responses, well, you’ll know which flavor you prefer. 

Be a purple yam. Refuse to be vanilla. 

Renata received her B.S. in Communications and Dental Hygiene from Eastern Washington University. She is a member of the Association of Talent Development and holds certificates from Carew DPS Sales Development, Selling Solutions and is a Menttium Executive Mentorship Graduate.  

Her inspiration and balance revolve around her family. Pastimes include Pilates, rowing as a rookie, gardening, and reading. She resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.