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Differentiating yourself from the masses

What is your differentiation strategy friends – in this game of life and/or business?

I’ve always looked at the beginning of a new year as an opportunity for introspection and personal audit, and so it only made sense in this blog to share with you nuggets that will help you stand out from the crowd as you forge ahead with Q2. The good news is there’s nothing in my points you haven’t already heard, but in the words of Elizabeth Arden, “Repetition makes reputation and reputation makes customers.” If you hear a song on heavy rotation eventually, you will learn the lyrics. With that being said, I do hope that as you forge ahead with the below reminders, you will soon come to appreciate what you ought to go hard at so as to stand out from the crowd in business and in life in this new decade.

1. Define your platform of purpose, complete with values, beliefs and modus operandi. Who are you and what do you want? What do you do and how do you get it done? What do you believe in and where do you draw the line when someone contests your value system or beliefs?

One of life’s greatest challenges stem from the fact that a lot of us can’t actually answer the questions I’ve just posed confidently. Too many of us are so frustrated with ourselves because we cannot clearly articulate our life’s vision or position when things don’t go the way we would want them to. So many of us find ourselves conflicted especially when we feel like we have to go at life having to explain ourselves to people who don’t get us to begin with. Let this year be the year you define who you are, what you want and your modus operandi in getting it. Let this be the year that you pursue clarity concerning all things you deem important.

2. Let self-confidence and self-belief help you stand out. Because quite frankly, if you don’t believe in what you’re selling, who’s going to buy it? If you don’t believe in you, how can you expect others to? I’ve had the great pleasure of bidding for contracts worth a good bit of money without knowing much about what the job would entail, let alone the industry I would be working in. However, I’m 100% sure it was my confidence during the pitch process that helped me seal the deal.

Here’s the thing – I’m not saying go out and over-promise something you can’t deliver. What I’m saying is if there is a glimmer of hope within you that you can hack it, then you have nothing to lose by throwing your own name in the hat. Believing we can is the key to actually being able achieve our goals. Self-belief is a critical to making it to the winners’ circle. Just remember to ensure alignment between your self-belief and your delivery of the promise. Some say “fake it till you make it” but I err on the side of “faith it till you make it”- having faith in GOD and the gifts He has given you.

3. Dress for where you are going, even if it’s a long way away. A famous Thomas A Edison quote states that “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Agreed there but I’ll tell you this; when each one of my opportunities comes around, I’m often in a power suit with some heels on. Growing up my mom always told me to never leave the house with some sweatpants on unless I was going out for a jog. I’ve maintained this stance all though my adult years.

You never know who you will meet in the aisle of your neighbourhood grocery store or in the parking lot of your kids’ school. Always dress for where you are going and I don’t mean this in the literal sense. You will not find me in the parking lot of my kids’ school looking like I don’t have nothing else to do but pick them up and head home. Carry yourself the way you see yourself. I have big goals and those goals need me to be suited up to achieve them. May this year be the year you toss out the old closet and old habits to make way for new pieces and new attitudes that make you look and feel as expensive as you are! Dress for the success you are working so hard to achieve. You never know who’s paying attention!

4. Passion captures hearts and makes believers out of pretty much everybody. One afternoon I opened my door to a salesman that was selling some couch and rug shampooing service. He came ready with his rug, some detergent, some dirt and this weird contraption-cum-vacuum cleaner looking thing to demonstrate how well he could clean sofas and rugs. It wasn’t how cool the vacuum cleaner thing worked after he threw a whole heap of dirt on the rug, but how passionate he was about what he was selling – the service itself. This salesperson was so good at storytelling as he carried out his demo, he could literally sell sand to the desert. He got me on the soup and ice cream spills by the kids, crayon scribbles on the couch, air quality after the vacuuming was complete… and so on. Needless to say, a week later his team came by to do our sofas and rugs. It was the excitement about his products and services that had me confirm my appointment.

You can sell anything well if you are passionate about sales, or what you are actually selling. You can do anything well, if you are actually vested in getting it done, well. If you want to differentiate yourself from the masses this year, especially given how highly competitive the world we live in is, be passionate about what you are doing especially when it involves other people. Your energy and zest for your craft could be the difference between landing your next job or waiting a long while for your next contract. Don’t let you lack of passion keep you from your victory.

5. Pursue originality and authenticity; there is only one you. Only you can get things done your way. I take it back to my first point of knowing who you are, what you want, and defining your modus operandi. This is very important if you want to succeed in business, foster healthier relationships into the new decade, or simply do better at life. It is your life. You are the original version of yourself. Don’t get caught up in what others are doing but rather stay in your lane.

One thing adulting has taught me is that people won’t always tell you the whole story of what they endured to get where they are. Few people are comfortable openly discussing their weakness and challenges. But – your truth is yours and however painful or grandiose it may be, there is great liberation that comes with doing your life unapologetically and earnestly. As the adage states: “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”.

In the realms of business, having a differentiation strategy means that you are aiming to distinguish your products or services from other similar products on offer by the competition in the marketplace. Life’s not that much different as the goings on of each day challenge us to stand out from the crowd in how we perform, dress, raise our children and so on. The fact is we live in a competitive world with so many of us vying for the attention of our spouses, children, bosses, friends and so on. Whatever your strategy at hacking life is for this year, stand out by mastering yourself. Be you! That’s your differentiator! Be you and do you authentically and rest-assured, you will stand out.

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