Baby I Was Born This Way


I’m here to publicly admit to watching Oprah, while she interviewed Lady Gaga and to say it inspired this article. The interview was centered on a non-profit organization, which Lady Gaga started, called “Born this Way Foundation” whose mission is to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated.

Want me to read this to you?

Trying to impress or trying to impact?

This show got me to think about two facets of my life and my business (Viral Solutions LLC) with my partner Christine Kelly. One being where I came from and my life experiences and secondly how in our world it is easy to show people what we think they want to see.

Then my thoughts expanded into those who seek to be thought leaders, gurus, experts and pundits in their field. I compared, contrasted and reflected on the words of Cynthia Germanotta (mother of lady Gaga), as she talked about her child’s life experiences to the words I see posted on social media every day by so many desiring to appeal to and impress the masses.

Do you separate yourself from the pack, in a way that reflects who you are, or who you are trying to be?

During a recent business trip to Phoenix, I stood out like a polar bear in the desert. My normal, chosen daily business attire did not blend well with those who were hosting a group of us, at a meeting which was to certify our knowledge of their offering. So much so, that I was baby i was born this wayapproached by an executive, who said “We don’t dress like that here, you can get comfortable.” To which in a split second, and without any thought or hesitation, I replied “I am comfortable and I wouldn’t ask you to change.” I was there for five days; I brought five suits and my blue-jeans to fly in, just like every business trip and just like every client meeting on their turf or mine.

I am who I am. Baby, I was born this way!

My partner and I were recently evaluating our clients, and asking ourselves what attracted them to us. That’s because we have not sought, nor did we directly approach, a single one of them. They came to us and we are incredibly grateful and fortunate. Our clients, as a whole, are highly educated and well known leaders in their field. They are New York Times best-selling authors, coaches, consultants, TED speakers and the like. The interesting twist is that we are not. We are who we are.

What attracts your clients to you?

By being true to yourself, by being comfortable in your own skin, by being candid in your approach and by being more caring about your impact on your client than your clients’ impact on your bottom line – you’ll have exactly what you seek.

Jill Rowley recently wrote my partner after reading about our company’s success on LinkedIn, as written by Jill Konrath. “I love your approach to customer success, as you state, you match the tool to the business model. Keep servicing your clients based on their needs; not yours! Don’t sell; help people buy. And, Always Be Connecting!!” I reference this quote because it speaks volumes to being who we are rather than trying to be who we are not.

Is perception your customers reality?

It’s not what we put out to attract, it’s what we put out to impact that matters. Anybody can attract a customer, but not everybody can get a customer to return for more. And even fewer will deliver on what they claimed was their solution to the problem the customer needed solved. Be who you are, deliver what you are best at, while you love the reward for your client’s success.

What does it all boil down to?

My family and friends won’t like this statement, one I make quite often, because it keeps me grounded and focused on what is important.

I’m just an Iowa farm kid, who is from a place that is so small, that during my childhood, the only stop-sign coming through town was portable! It is this life experience that enables me to stay real and gives me a special insight into my client’s vision.

As one of our amazing customers recently told us, while they reflected upon the methods in which we deliver our work, he advised us to disclose the following about our style, speaking as if he were me; “There may be times that I seem like I’m pushing you to move in a different direction, and I am. You can thank me later, but the sooner we get moving in the direction I want you to go in; the closer you’ll be to the goal line.”

Which goal line are you mostly focused on?

Are you helping your customer to return to who they are? Is your focus on their impact on their customer? Are you trying to impress the masses, so easily accessible via social media today, with who you aren’t?

Thomas von Ahn | Chief Elephant Slayer | Viral Solutions LLC

thomas von ahn

Watch out elephants! This slayer of business challenges comes with 30 years of record breaking sales, marketing, operations, training and leadership experience . He has worked face-to-face with 100’s of small business owners as well as large firms. His love of creating, communicating, developing and executing results for clients shines with each project, publication and training event. His entrepreneurial spirit, passion, industry experience, education, problem-solving prowess, charismatic personality and been-there-done that attitude leads his client focused approach.


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About Thomas von Ahn

With more than 30 years of experience in B2B sales across various industries, Thomas has unique insight into both the offline and online sales sphere. It was during his time in the trenches that Thomas noticed a recurring theme: Though business owners are knowledgeable about their craft or trade, they often struggle to market and sell to their prospects. This realization is what prompted Thomas and his now business partner, Christine, to bring Viral Solutions to life. Since starting the company, Thomas has been able to assist countless business owners in developing a solid marketing plan based upon sound marketing strategy, then assigning the marketing tactics to a team of talented employees, and, finally, watching those actions unfold—his true passion.

Though Viral Solutions is on Thomas’ mind 24/7, he does occasionally take a break to cheer on the Green Bay Packers and enjoy his adopted home of Wisconsin. Much of his family also works at Viral Solutions, and this closeness with family and employees is the cornerstone of the Viral Solutions culture.