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Be Different, Not Better

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 13/10/2015 Jae Yi
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"Don't try to be better than your competitors, try to be different. There is always going to be someone smarter than you, but there may not be someone who is more imaginative." -Byron Wien, The Blackstone Group
I'm a big believer that if you do what everyone else is doing, you're just going to be like everyone else. In order to stand out from the pack, you have to be different, not better. Here are a couple lessons I've learned on how to be different that I hope help you out in some way!
1. Offer something DIFFERENT, not better

The historically based TV show "Hell on Wheels" tells the story about Collis Huntington, who is based on the real life railroad magnate. When Collis Huntington arrived in San Francisco in 1849 during the Gold Rush, he had $90 in his pockets and a dream to strike it rich. In order to mine for gold, you need two things: a shovel and a plot of land. A shovel cost $15 and a plot of land cost $75. Guess what Collis Huntington did. He bought 6 shovels and sold it for a profit. Again. And again. And again. In fact, the real life Collis Huntington became the largest mining equipment supplier and eventually helped create the first transcontinental railroad. During the Gold Rush, the ones who really made a fortune weren't those who mined for gold, but those who supplied the miners (such as Levi Strauss who created the denim jeans you wear today). In your line of business, are you one of the countless gold miners or are you Collis Huntington?
2. Attract RAVING fans even at the cost of attracting HATERS
Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, was in discussions with a TV network executive about a Dilbert TV show. They had a focus group watching the Dilbert TV show pilot and had the focus group buzz in throughout the show on how much they liked each scene. Scott Adams noticed that the average rating was pretty good and mentioned it to the TV network executive. The TV network executive's response was priceless - he didn't care about the average. He only cared about the extremely high ratings because those were the people who would block off time on a Wednesday night to watch the show no matter what was going on in their lives. People who kind of like the show wouldn't be the evangelist who posts on Facebook and Twitter about how much they love the show. Here's my question for you. Are you so focused on not attracting haters that you dilute your message and avoid garnering the raving fans?
3. Be AUTHENTIC -- because so few people are these days and it stands out
In 2013, a college student wrote a brutally honest cover letter to Wall Street banks. Here is a snippet of what he wrote:
"I have no qualms about fetching coffee, shining shoes or picking up laundry, and will work for next to nothing. In all honesty, I just want to be around professionals in the industry and gain as much knowledge as I can.
I won't waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles, or feeding you a line of crapp (sic) about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship. The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you."
This cover letter was a viral hit and this kid got a job because it was so refreshingly honest.
I'm very passionate about this topic because for me, realizing the importance of being different was truly an "ah-ha!" moment. If you do what everyone else is doing, you really will just be like everyone else. Please email me at if you have any thoughts/questions/need fantasy football advice. Have a great week!

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