Maybe seven or eight years ago I was presenting at a seminar for fitness models and actors on website strategy, analytics and search engine optimization – back when people actually cared about SEO.

There were about 50 people in the room and I had rehearsed my presentation probably two dozen times. I was ready and prepared for almost anything.

Almost anything.

The one thing I could not have accounted for (or even fathomed) as the a-hole who sat in the front row with the intention of derailing and ruining my presentation.

During my entire one-hour seminar he glared at me intently with his arms crossed and the biggest “screw you” look plastered across his forehead. As I spoke he shook his head in disagreement. As I made points he sighed. As I tried to make crowd-warming jokes he rolled his eyes. Right in the middle of sentences he would cut me off to interject a question with the direct intention of trying to prove to everyone listening that he knew more than me about the topic I was presenting about.

First off, I think we should all get on the same page and agree this pathetic excuse for a man is of the lowest level of diseased riddled crap scraped from that basin that mobile bathrooms dump out to. My apologies to any pieces of crap who were offended by that reference.

About a week later I found out from the event organizer that this guy only attended the event as a guest of his girlfriend and was not happy about the idea of her being at a conference where she could learn to be successful enough on her own so he set himself out on a mission to attempt to crush and embarrass all those presenting at the event. Apparently he did this to every single presenter. Why the event organizers did not ask him to leave is another matter entirely.

Regardless, I think we all agree that this scumbag is part of the worst order. Despite that, I have to admit something. I made a far greater error. Not only did I allow this festering boil to get under my skin – I actually allowed it to impact the overall presentation. I was off my game and the other 49 people in the room were robbed of my best abilities.

But here is the grander problem that we all face. Each of us have “that guy” (or girl) in our minds every single time we go to do something new. We think about that person, whether they are real or not, before we release a blog, post a podcast, write an Instagram post or get up on stage to give a presentation.

The result is we shave off the unique edges of our brand so as not to upset that person. We tailor our work, temper down our persona so as not to even stand out. What happens is we then are no good to anyone because we have nothing that defines us.

Our edges are what define us. We must never shave those down to appease someone who does not matter.

Read that again, that person does not matter.

So you have to decide who matters for you and your business. Who truly matters? Who are you truly trying to connect with? If someone other than that person is unhappy with what you are doing – then who cares?

James Patrick
@jpatickphoto on IG