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Average Is Over: It’s Time For You To Stand Out

By May 28, 2015October 30th, 2017Podcast, With Guests
Average Is Over: It's Time For You To Stand Out

Are You A Slacker?

Today we welcome Dorie Clark, an author, speaker, consultant, contributor to Time, Forbes and the Harvard Business Review among other prominent publications… so naturally we asked the most relevant question: Dorie, why are you such a slacker?

It’s Time To Stand Out.

Our conversation with Dorie can be summed up like this: the loudest ideas are usually the ones that get heard. Now it’s time for the good ones to get some attention.

Dorie is a believer in good ideas and everyone’s ability to have one (or maybe two!) In her recently published book Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It, she shares what it means to have a great idea and how you can be known for it.

Average Is Over.

We said it in the title but it’s worth repeating. Many, if not most of us, have been taught from an early age that if we work hard we can be successful.

Dorie says not so fast. Nowadays, in a world that is crowded with people just like you, hard work isn’t enough. You may do well but the real ticket to success is to be truly known for your ideas.

Whoa, That Sounds Hard.

Admittedly, there’s a ton of competition and it’s not exactly a piece of cake to get noticed. But don’t panic. It turns out anyone can have a breakthough idea – from the VPs and CEOs of a company right down to the IT techs and the guys who run the forklifts.

There are plenty of ideas to be had.

And the really encouraging thing is that breakthrough ideas don’t even have to be huge or world-changing.

They just have to be different.

Meet Michael Waxman.

Dorie profiled a number of people in her book but one that stood out was Michael Waxman. He was a guy thrust into a pretty unpleasant situation. His apartment was being converted to a condo and he had to find a new home fast.

So Michael went to a lot of open houses in a short span of time and took super detailed notes so he could keep track of everything.

Then he went online and posted those reviews to a tiny site that nobody much used.

Then an unexpected thing happened. People started asking him to be their real estate agent! Michael had to decline because real estate wasn’t his job, but he got so well known for these amazing reviews that eventually an actual real estate agent contacted him and offered to sponsor him if he wanted to get his license.

He did. And went on to have a very profitable side career in real estate with zero marketing because he had already built a huge fan and referral base.

Now, if you think about that, writing reviews isn’t exactly breakthrough. But the point is that nobody else was doing what he did. And people noticed.

Great, You Have An Idea! Now What?

Having ideas is great. But they won’t do you or anyone much good if they stay in your head.

Dorie says that to get noticed you have to do two things.

  1. Create content. That doesn’t sound exactly breakthough, either, right? But without content you won’t be able to get your ideas into the world where people can see them and recognize you for them. Content makes you discoverable.
  2. Build your email list. This should be starting to sound familiar. Social media is nice but Dorie reminds us that it’s not a panacea. Plus the platforms are not yours. Grow your list so you can communicate directly with the people who want to hear from you.

OMG, Do I Have To Be… Self-Promotional?

Oh hell, yes. If you want to be recognized as a leader in your industry, if you want to be the go-to person for something, then you have to get over your hangups right now and understand that not only must you promote yourself but if you’re really providing value and sharing great ideas it’s your responsibility to share them with the world.

But I’ll Sound Like A Self Centered Jerk.

If you listen to the podcast, you probably won’t even notice how many times Dorie promotes her book. She does it so consistently and seamlessly that it’s just part of the conversation.

I dare you to call her a self-promotional jerk.

Dorie has a solution for those of you who worry about being that self-promotional jerk. Ask yourself this question: is this content helpful enough that someone would want to share with a friend?

If what you’ve got meets that requirement, then it needs to be shared.

And no, nobody wants to hear you talk about how great you are all the time and listen to your shouts of, “Buy my stuff!” But there is a lot of room to walk between the extremes of zero self-promotion and incessant boasting.

When you share truly helpful and valuable stuff, Dorie says, you aren’t being self-centered. You’re being other-centered and giving people something they need.

Ok, But What If I Don’t Have An Idea?

Go take a shower.


The problem with modern culture – especially American and western culture – is that we are constantly overbooked. We go from meeting to meeting to call to call to task to deadline and never give ourselves the space to think and create.

Without space and without thinking you will never have an idea, let alone a good one.

It sounds cliché but taking a shower or going for a walk is exactly what you need. And it’s not because you need to chill out (though you do) but because research has shown that focusing on a problem and actually trying to be creative is a recipe for zero creativity.

But when you do another activity that is kind of rote and mechanical, one that lets you enter a state of “distracted thinking” that’s when you can be your most creative.

So maybe for you it’s vacuuming the house or walking the dog. But find that simple task and then breathe.

You Can Even Make Your Own Luck.

This is not one of those New-Age-y things about magically manifesting your perfect life just by thinking about it. This is actually borne out by research.

But luck may not be what you think it is.

Turns out, Dorie says, that luck is an attitude. Luck is about sitting back and letting events unfold. It’s about being less fixated on something and more open to possibility. It’s about curiosity and humility.

If you’re a little tired of hearing advice about “reaching out to influencers” but aren’t sure how to get on Bill Gates’ dinner list, you’re in luck! Dorie says that “lucky” people are never looking over the shoulder of the person they’re talking to, hoping to find someone more important. Lucky people talk to CEOs and janitors alike and pay attention to people on the periphery. Not just to the typical bigwigs that everyone wants to meet.

Finally, Be As Gay As You Are.

We couldn’t help but briefly touch on an article that was the inspiration for our Dorie-fandom several years ago. She wrote it when Anderson Cooper came out as gay and that made news for five minutes before everyone went about their business.

So we asked Dorie: what should we really be sharing online? How much is too much?

And Dorie says that we should get it all out there. That either hiding your identity or covering for something like being gay, or a medical condition, or depression – something that is “not talked about” – is bad for morale, bad for the world and bad for you. Besides, the more you get it out there the less likely that something will be discovered and revealed in a way that you did not choose.

No need to make it a focus, but acknowledge who you are and move on. The more we do that, the less of a big deal it will be – for us and for those who come out literally and metaphorically after us.

Your Marketing Action Item

From Dorie: Dorie was faced with saving making from the moon splitting into two parts, so she gave us two marketing action items!

  1. Try an app called SumoMe. This is actually a correction to what she mentioned in the podcast which was AppSumo (they all start to sound alike after a while… what does that say about their breakthough ideas?) SumoMe lets you set up very nifty popups – not the annoying kind – on your WordPress site so you can start building that email list.
  2. If you’ve got a thing that you’re covering up, whether it’s a personality trait, a struggle, something embarrassing or just a thing that isn’t talked about – put it out there. Just be who you are. Acknowledge. Move on.

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Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Fabulous guest! Lively, interesting, upbeat, compelling conversation on an awesome topic.

    Dorie is definitely no slacker! Unbelievable agenda. I’ll have to find out what kind of vitamins she takes. I demand to know how in the world she keeps her energy level up. Seriously. I’m exhausted just thinking about her schedule. 😉

    Breakthrough ideas. I’d say this was my favorite part of the episode. I agree that you don’t need to come up with some farfetched zany idea. It just needs to be something out of the “status quo” box.

    “Average is over.” I’ll invest in that.

    Your comments about all the mediocre and sub-par stuff online is right on the money. I just call it garbage. What the world needs a whole lot less of is more piles of rubbish. More and more, I find myself ignoring a lot of what shows up in my inbox and online in social media. It’s as if I’m re-training my brain and creating a conditioned response, which is quickly transforming into a habit. I don’t need that crap, I don’t want it, and shame on those who slip it under my nose.

    • Oh my, I will have to let her know you had trouble downloading. I think I did it from the sidebar, not the popup. I really was a little nervous about this idea of having a breakthrough idea! It seems like the kind of thing that is reserved for the Steve Jobs’ of the world. That can’t be me. But challenging the status quo? I can do that! I bet we could all do that if we just ignore everything we are told as THE way to do it and think for ourselves.

      I’m all for ignoring the garbage. I am the unsubscribe queen 🙂

      • Truly sorry, Carol Lynn, but you can’t hold the title of “Unsubscribe Queen”. I already own it! LOL

        Hey! You and I came up with a “breakthrough idea” just yesterday!! Remember FROOD? I coined the term and you ran with it. Dorie would be so proud. 🙂 We really should do something with that.

        I mentioned Dorie’s pop-up box issue because she seemed so happy with the tool. But as you know, technology doesn’t always cooperate.

        • Oh I know technology. It works great until you need it to. And I totally think we should have a podcast called FROOD. At least it would be delicious.

          • FROOD may not be “handsome and delicious” like Mike Brooks. But definitely delicious!! 😉

            Technology. What can I say that hasn’t been said a gazillion times? Internet technology is like humans … not always dependable. 🙂