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Have You Been to Muscle Beach Lately?

Have you been to muscle beach lately?

During my recent trip to LA, I stayed at a hotel in Santa Monica and took a walk along the Ocean Front Walk on Venice Beach. The spot is the origin of the bodybuilding and fitness boom in the United States. In its day, its name was Muscle Beach. Today, the Muscle Beach Outdoor Gym stands where many bodybuilders and actors started.

But as anyone who knows me should be familiar, I wasn’t there for bodybuilding. And I wasn’t there to rollerblade, bike, or skateboard, like so many others. No, I was taking a walk along what is now a mile-long open market that faces ample sidewalks, green space, and the Pacific Ocean just beyond the dune.

I’ve been practicing being more present during such uncommon activities as this. I had arrived at one end of the open market not long before sunset. The weather was cool for this Floridian, but plenty of surfers walked with boards under their arms, wet suits loosened, as they either completed their day or were approaching the surf for a final run before the sunset altogether. The water temperature—in the high 60s—was slightly warmer than the late afternoon air.

Don't give away credibility with your government customer by looking like the middle-aged guy wearing headphones amid the Venice Beach vibe. Click To Tweet

The Venice Beach sidewalk splits into two main sections, one for pedestrians that runs directly in front of the shops on the east side of the sidewalk. West of the sidewalk and closer to the beach is a broad and meandering bike path. The bike path takes wide turns and serves to keep bikes and pedestrians separated and make the ride more interesting than a straight-line sidewalk.

The shops offer all kinds of items, primarily aimed at the tourist market. The sales approaches of each shop vary considerably. Some rely on extremely bright lighting; others loud music. Several use barkers at the door to lure customers. Still, others offer coupons to use immediately or over the weekend. The competition for customers is palpable in most cases.

There were other storefronts where things were quieter. Cannabis or other paraphernalia were available for sale at more than one store. Still, other stores, some with second-floor entrances, didn’t even have signage, but people were coming and going; apparently, they just knew.

The crowds at dusk were quite diverse. Young and old, couples and small groups, smokers and vapers, and many musicians and artists. There was unmistakable energy to the vibe of the open-air market. To this outsider, it struck me that many at this rather touristy place were locals. They look like they fit in; they appeared to understand the vibe and their place in it. Me, on the other hand, I’m confident; I looked every bit the outsider and tourist that I was in this moment. I saw no other middle-aged person walking with headphones out for their “exercise” while listening to a business book on Audible. Most others had a purpose to their presence. They were with and among friends, walking their dogs, shopping for trinkets, or just there to enjoy the time away from other responsibilities of life.

As I attempted to be present and take it all in, I could not help but think about clients and prospective clients who must experience these feelings when trying to sell to the government. Everyone around them seems to be there with purpose, able to see through the distractions of noise and light, and they know what they’re doing. They aren’t confused about what’s in store or just down the path. Others dress appropriately for the situation, and they understand the rhythms of what’s unfolding around them.

If you missed my webinar offering unfiltered counsel on how to prepare for the forthcoming FY23 budget, it’s not too late – but it’s close! If you are not sure where you stand for FY23, get some help. I know we are only in FY22, and the FY22 funding is still not here. However, if you’re uneasy about what’s unfolding, listen to that voice that might be telling you to get some help. You can be that provider of a product or service that “just knows” how things go. Don’t give away credibility with your government customer by looking like the middle-aged guy wearing headphones amid the Venice Beach vibe.

If you are interested in complimentary access to a group of professionals who share your goal of success in the federal space in The Big Top, reach out to me by email with the subject line: “The Big Top.” An invitation-only, online forum, The Big Top is where topical federal issues, useful federal engagement tips, and proven better practices can help fuel your understanding and success working toward improved federal sales.

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