Choices

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.” – Caroline Myss

 

Eight choices that will scare you the most:

You have a choice to SPAM, to be a generalist, to sell average stuff, to lead and be indispensable. Here is what I know …

Bothering people, spamming them, interrupting them or shouting about your offering (goods or services) doesn’t work like it once did.

The companies that are growing, the ideas that are catching on, do not advertise. These companies have figured out that not being for everyone, doing great work for those who want it, and staging transformational experiences will always do better than spam.

People want to be part of a herd, and they want what the herd wants.

We like to be like each other. Before there was Patagonia, there were people who needed Patagonia. Before there was Starbucks, there were people who needed Starbucks. Before there was Apple, there were people who needed Apple. Before The Beatles, there were kids who needed The Beatles.

The audience exists before the band.

The audience exists before the speaker.

The most successful people have always created something for a specific group (market) which already existed.

I don’t see enough businesses doing this. I see a lot of businesses creating good stuff for everyone, and that strategy will fail.

Who is your market? What do you do for them? What change does your work create?

Start a conversation.

Financial planning is a thing. What one can do when properly funded is a conversation. Conversations make us think, sometimes they make us feel vulnerable, and sometimes they make us change our thinking.

All of that is interesting and worth sharing. Conversations and ideas that spread, win. Would you rather be known for what you sell, or what you make people think?

Me too.

Nobody wants average.

Not long ago, almost every store was full of average stuff. Housewares didn’t last long, switches broke, parts were inferior and design was non-existent. For reference, please see absolutely everything GM made for 20 years. They even screwed up the Corvette for a while.

The old model was essentially about average companies making average things for average people.

So the first step, then, is to stop being an average company.

Be an incredible company that stands for something. Step two: create work (stuff, thoughts, experiences) that are worth paying attention to and noticing. Interesting/amazing/inspiring companies that make interesting/amazing/inspiring things don’t have trouble attracting interested customers.

Experiences over stuff.

People are buying experiences and conversations, and less and less stuff. This should tell us something: in our human quest for meaning, we have stopped looking for it in things, and instead we are looking for it in experiences.

What happens when you have had an experience? You are changed.

People are looking to be changed, for the better.

Can your work help your customer change? How? This is the most important question you can ask yourself.

Lead your Tribe.

Quit trying to convince people to join your tribe. They are not interested (see point 1). Instead, work to matter more to the people already in your tribe. Give them a reason to bring other people to the party.

Focus your expertise.

People are often trained to be good at a lot of different things, but rarely to be the best at one specific skill. What is that one thing that your tribe needs that is really difficult and necessary? Do that, for all the reasons stated above.

Be indispensable.

There are all kinds of opportunities for being indispensable to your tribe, but most of us are too scared of being that important, because mattering that much to anyone is scary. It’s tempting to sell the widget, and let someone else pick up the ball for the hard stuff.

Nah. Pick yourself.

Being indispensable, starting a conversation and leading a tribe is where the game will be won. It’s also a lot more fun.

Comments (2)

Dennis, as always, thanks for this. We had the chance to meet in Grand Rapids ( a Jackson National event) this past spring after your trip to Bermuda to speak at Founders Financial Leadership conference. Since that conversation I have struggled with the concept of niche, niche, weird, but continue to work. Maybe soon I will discover the niche and weirdness that speaks to me. Until then, I hope you continue your leadership and give me good stuff to add to my tribe.

Hello Bernard
Finding your niche is a process, and its hardest at the start.
I don’t have the answer. Your clients do.
Here is a thought …
What if you did a different kind of client segmentation. Instead of doing a segmentation on assets, do one based on how customer engagement. Who are your most engaged clients? Who are your clients that care the most about what you have to say? What do they all have in common? Do they share a similar world view? What are they working towards personally? What do they want to talk about?
See what I mean mon ami?
Go spend some time learning about why these people find you compelling enough to pay attention to.
Thanks for the note – DMW

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