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Non-conformity in Life and Leadership

On a cold and snowy January afternoon, I found myself begrudgingly walking across campus to purchase yet another book for grad school. As I was scanning the many aisles of the bookstore looking for the book associated with the leadership and ethics course I was taking, I was delighted to find the book we were tasked with reading was far from a textbook. It was a small, paperback book called The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. The subtext on the front cover read “SET YOUR OWN RULES|LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT| AND CHANGE THE WORLD.” Intriguing!

At the time, I was two years into my professional career, trying to balance grad school with a full-time position that I didn’t really love, and this book really opened my eyes and changed my way of thinking about careers and leadership.

Fast forward seven years to today. I’ve probably re-read this book at least five times. Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from The Art of Non-Conformity that I use in my career, in leadership, and my personal life.

1.”There’s nothing wrong with thinking ahead, but life does not start at 65.”

We often hear someone say they can’t wait to travel when they retire, or spend more time on a hobby they love. Why wait until retirement to do those things? Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to save for your future, but life doesn’t start at 65. If you are making all of your decisions based on a hypothetical future, you’ll soon find yourself in a pattern of life avoidance. Life is short, and you aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Make sure you have fun along the way!

2. “As long as what you want does not cause harm to others, you never need to apologize for pursuing your own dreams and big ideas. They belong to you for a reason.”

Before each of us came to FabACab, we were working in a wide variety of jobs: construction, metal working, higher education, insurance, and missionary work. Now, we come together every day, working to make FabACab the best it can be for both our customers and for us, the employees. I might add that we are having a blast doing it, too! With that being said, we also know that our team might have other interests and dreams outside of the elevator industry.

We’ve created a very transparent environment at FabACab. We talk about our goals, both personal and for the business, openly. You want to move to California to work in the film industry? No problem, give me your timeline. Don’t forget us when you make it big! You want to live outside of central Indiana? No problem. We will miss you in the office, but we have systems in place for remote working if you want to continue working with us. We currently have a sales rep living in New York City and will soon have one living near Chicago.

3. “You must be open to new ideas. You must be dissatisfied with the status quo. You must be willing to take personal responsibility. You must be willing to work hard.

FabACab has four values that are evident in everything we do: Remain Grateful, Love People, Work Hard, and Have Fun. Adding to those, I find the four principles from the book mentioned above equally as important – bonus points that there are some overlapping values. I have worked in places where these principles were lacking, and because of that, the environments were pretty toxic. You will never hear the phrases “That’s not my job” or “That’s how it’s always been done” at FabACab.

I haven’t been working at FabACab very long, but I can say that I absolutely love coming to work. This is the most driven, creative, and dedicated team I have ever been on. I’m grateful that I get to be a part of this!