“Four Things Worth Talking About…” is a new series of blog posts where we turn the tired, traditional book review on its head and instead focus on the four most powerful anecdotes, lessons, or observations contained in the book. Stand Out is the first book reviewed for this series.
In today’s economy where “safe” jobs are rapidly disappearing, it’s more important than ever that leaders, employees, and freelancers identify ways to “stand out” in their industries, share their perspectives, and inspire others to action.
While thousands of consultants are preaching the importance of demonstrating “thought leadership,” Dorie Clark distinguishes herself by providing concrete advice on how to leverage your gifts and talents, develop breakthrough insights, and build a community around your ideas.
Clark’s first book, Reinventing You, is a handbook for people who are looking to take ownership of their personal brand, who are navigating a career change, or who want to reshape the way in which they’re perceived by their colleagues and networks. Her second book, Stand Out, takes it one step further.
Four Things Worth Talking About:
1 Bagels vs. Croissants
In her discussion about building a community, Clark cited the work of nonprofit fundraiser Robbie Samuels to encourage cooperation and the sharing of best practices between different organizations in the Boston social justice community. Samuels organized a series of meetup-style events throughout the city that were all governed by one important principle. At typical networking events, it’s natural for groups to form tight, impenetrable circles (“bagels”). At Samuels’ events, groups instead form semicircles (“croissants”), which make it easier and more inviting for others to join the conversation. This is a simple but incredibly powerful idea that you can easily put to use the next time you’re at a networking event or conference.
2 Bring Your Whole Self to the Job
You are the only person in the world with your precise set of experiences, learnings, and knowledge. That means that your unique perspective might be the key to unlock a big idea for your current industry. Before Nate Silver became a revered baseball and political analyst, he first applied and developed his expertise in the Internet, statistics, and rankings by creating the “Burrito Bracket,” which ranked Mexican restaurants in Chicago. Silver later became the first to apply those similar principles to baseball and politics, enhancing public understanding of the science of sport and the art of polling.
3 The Power of Research
Spoiler alert: it takes A LOT of work to produce noteworthy content. San Diego-based entrepreneur Mark Fidelman routinely creates elaborately researched blog posts for Forbes and Business Insider that identify the top 25 leaders in a specific field or industry (e.g. “Meet the Top 20 Most Social CMOs of the Fortune 100”). Fidelman estimates that each list requires more than 100 hours of research by him and his team. For most of us, that’s an investment of time we would never consider. But Fidelman has leveraged those click-worthy posts into a powerful lead generation engine on behalf of his consulting business.
4 Make Time for Luck
Think about your best, most potent ideas. When did they occur? Were you in the middle of a meeting? Probably not. More likely, you were in the shower, on a run, or walking your dog. Great ideas require time and creativity. But too many of us have effectively engineered free time out of our daily routines. So think twice before scheduling back-to-back-to-back meetings tomorrow and consider blocking off some time for true inspiration.
On the whole, Stand Out is a great read that includes specific, actionable advice from a marketer I greatly respect.