Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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I did not recognize you.

Rejection Reason #1

This week, in the United States, we will welcome the Fall season, when leaves change color, temperatures grow colder, and daylight gets shorter. As we prepare for the climatic change, it is beneficial to strengthen ourselves by expanding and enriching our minds. Therefore, as I shared last week in Why People Say No! – BLOG – www.akesatia.com, we are embarking on a new trail to cultivate meaningful relationships by understanding Why People Say No! Today, we will explore a common rejection reason: I did not recognize you! In this context, recognition refers to transparency or being easily detected and understood. Transparent Definition & Meaning – Merriam-Webster Ironically, we learn the importance of recognizing others and being recognized from an early age. How so? You may ask!

Let’s explore!

A powerful message!

Throughout our lives, we chart our course amidst struggle and ease, and to progress, we must wisely exercise the power of choice. Remarkably, we start displaying this propensity early! We see indications when a stranger attempts to pick up a two-year-old baby, and in disapproval, the baby frowns and, in her most ferocious tone, says: NO! Naturally, her mother approves of her show of rejection because she does not want her baby to run into the arms of people she does not know. And as a reward, she wraps her baby in a warm embrace and kisses her cheek. But this is more than a tender expression or mere nod of approval. It subliminally transmits a powerful message: Do not let in those you do not recognize

Unsurprisingly, as we age, consciously and unconsciously, our actions are guided by this message! – We do not move into houses with missing locks on the front door. And we are leery of letting random strangers take shelter in our guest bedrooms. Also, when we park our cars out of our homes, we lock the doors with the remote fob and do not leave until we hear it click. Unless you want to offer your car as a gift to an anonymous passerby looking for a free ride – that is! 😊

Essentially, from a tender age, we learn to keep strangers out by rejecting those we do not recognize or know. Notably, this cautionary move often keeps us safe, but the challenge arises when we do not reveal our true selves so that others can confidently let us in. 

To better illustrate this, I will share a personal story.

Off to a faraway land!

A whip-smart business leader invited me to a country in South America for leadership and organizational development work with his team. I agreed to the offer, and I was thrilled for many reasons! First, to meet the team and do challenging work. Next, to take in the sights and sounds of the exotic country and experience its diversity of nature and culture. Last but certainly not least, I was excited to taste the local dark chocolate because that country is known for having some of the best chocolate in the world! 

Unfortunately, I also learned the country is well known for something else – Kidnappings, especially of foreigners! To mitigate the risk, I watched safety videos and read articles on what to do and what not to do! I hoped that by drenching my mind with safety tidbits, I would avoid the need to exercise my Wonder Woman skills in the distant land. 😉

The Take-Off!

Several days before my departure, the team informed me of the travel arrangements, including how I would get from the airport to the hotel upon arrival. They said Aké, once you get through security at the airport, a chauffeur, aka driver, dressed in a black suit and white button-down shirt, will be standing in the arrival hall, holding a white card with your name on it. He will take you to the hotel. 

Days later, at the appointed time, I checked into my flight, boarded the plane, and took off without incident. While on the plane, I got some work done, watched an epic historical drama, nodded off, and listened to contemporary classical pianist and composer Yiruma. Many hours later, the pilot announced that we were making our descent. Suddenly, I felt a mix of excitement and trepidation! I was excited to meet the team and do high-impact work. But I couldn’t shake off the fear that my suitcases were on the cold floor of some hangar in North America. Fortunately, we had an uneventful landing, and I was not disappointed. At least, not initially!


After going through airport security checks, I walked into the arrival hall, where I saw a crowd – some people were standing, several were hugging, and most were chatting. Expectedly, some held white cards with names on them, but none had my name printed! Keeping my composure, I peered around for a few minutes and thought: Certainly, the chauffeur is here! I need to be patient and look harder. But my efforts were not rewarded! Slowly, videos and articles warning that kidnappers roam free and wild in the city began circulating in my mind. As my anxiety grew, all I could think was Where is the chauffeur holding a card with my name? 

To soothe my growing angst, I called a contact at the main office, who assured me that the chauffeur was there with the card. But I never saw him or the card! After several minutes, exhausted from the long flight, I called the hotel and spoke to an amiable receptionist who arranged a hotel shuttle to pick me up. 

The following day, I headed to the impressive office building downtown and met an incredibly hospitable team. After exchanging pleasantries, everyone inquired about my trip. As several heard of my airport transportation snafu, their main question was: How did you get to the hotel? And through the discussion, I learned how it all went awry!

What happened?

As it turns out, the chauffeur was at the airport early, waiting for me as planned. When he initially arrived, he held up the card with my name. However, with many arrivals, getting through airport security took longer than usual, especially for foreign passengers. Therefore, I got to the arrival area 35 minutes after my plane touched down. By this time, tired of raising his hand and unsure I made the flight, he put down the card. Astonishingly, I had seen him, but I did not recognize him, and like ships in the night, we passed each other. It was a classic blunder!

But such blunders do not only happen in airports! They can happen anywhere. For example, today, with the proliferation of technology, including social media, most of us are sensitive to the loss of privacy, and to retain control, we may use multiple aliases or pseudonyms. While this offers benefits, it also masks our true selves. Therefore, we could erroneously prevent those we want to connect with from recognizing us. – This could be a costly miss!

To better understand the cost, ask yourself: Do I make it easy for those I want to connect with to see and recognize me? If not, who am I keeping away, and what am I missing out on?

Until next time!

For you and to you,



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