“But Will You Use It?”: Believing in the Things You Sell

If you’ve seen Erin Brockovich, you probably remember that winning scene where Erin (played by Julia Roberts) sits down with the lawyers representing PG&E, the energy company responsible for poisoning the water supply of Hinkley, a small town in California. The guys in suits were trying to negotiate the settlement to be offered to the people in Hinkley who were suffering from various illnesses, which pushes the quick-witted, foul-mouthed Erin to throw a bitchfit during the meeting. And just as one of the lawyers was about to drink the glass of water offered to them by Erin’s office, the sassy Erin shoots back at them: “By the way, we had that water brought in specially for you folks. Came from a well in Hinkley.” The lawyer ends the meeting without drinking the water. 

In the course of my career promoting different brands, products, and services, I think one crucial lesson that I have learned to apply before I take on a project is to always go back to that particular scene and remind myself: would I be confident enough to take a gulp of water from my company’s water supply?

While I admit that my professional life is far from perfect, with moments and decisions here and there which I regret, I’ve learned that introspection– going back to the values and principles that guide your life–helps in assessing one’s mistakes and finding areas of improvement. I think introspection is a built-in mechanism that allows us to  correct ourselves and see how our beliefs truly resonate in the things we do.

As professionals–not just marketers but also lawyers, journalists, administrative managers, and whatever title you may have–we always convey a message every time we take on a role or a project. The tasks we take on reveals who we are deep inside, and what things we truly value. 

While I believe that people will make compromises along the way, the most enduring mark of ourselves would still be the sum of the things we accept or refuse. 

Whenever we represent a brand, it’s important to ask ourselves: do we believe in it? Is this something that I would use myself? And if not, am I trying to change the brand into something I would be proud of? 

If our answer to all of these is no, then it shows how little we think of other people–and how we sadly reduce our capacity to be a force of positive change towards the world. Not only is it hypocritical, it’s also selfish and misanthropic.  

I think we should truly believe in what we do and only do the things we believe in–and I don’t mean in the sense that we delude ourselves into fanatical belief. A full life is something lived for a higher purpose, not just for something that will help us survive for the day. 

Read: How Your Values Will Shape Your Actions

By Evan Tan

Evan Tan is a writer & communications professional based in Manila, Philippines.

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