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Better different

While fighting for attention, new customers, a job, a collaboration, you will have to stand out from the crowd. If everyone chose to do what everyone else is doing then it would all be up to chance. Leaving things to chance is the worst thing you can do. If you want to succeed you have got to increase your chances to be the one selected. Standing out is the best chance you have to be selected.

Being better than everyone else is one way of standing out. If your product is better, the quality of the materials is higher, you have better skills, knowledge or experience than everyone else, then you are going to stand out and be noticed. While this is definitely a great idea, in a world where technology is evolving at an ever faster rate and more and more people can have access to better technology and materials your advantage will not last for long.

What you can do, though, is be different, stand out from the crowd by doing what no one else is doing. This can be achieved by offering a solution for a problem that no one else is offering, by doing things in a way that no one else will, by having the skills and abilities that others don’t, by overcoming fear and by having the courage to be different.

Different can be better than better, but different is not always better.

Assume responsibility

This is one of the best things you can do. Once you fail take full responsibility for it and for your actions. Don’t try to find excuses, don’t try to see only the good part in it, and most of all don’t ignore it.

I have seen companies ignoring the mistakes they made or even worse, refusing to assume responsibility. This attitude will only drive clients away because it will make them feel unimportant, misunderstood or neglected.

There are entrepreneurs trying to hide the projects that have failed while leading people’s attention only towards the projects that have succeeded. This might seem like a good idea, but people will find out eventually and keep thinking what else they might be hiding from them.

Employees are always running away from responsibility. They hide behind their boss, supervisor, team-leader. They do it because they don’t want to be blamed from something going wrong, because they are afraid of the consequences this might have on their career.

While assuming responsibility comes with obvious risks, it also has hidden benefits most people are afraid to take advantage of. People, clients, investors and companies want to see initiative, to see you involved, to see you working hard to achieve things, to see your evolution, to see that you have learned from your mistakes, to see you fail. People want to see human beings with both failure and success on their part.

Assuming responsibility gains trust and creates bonds.

Changing your routine

People tend to build a routine. It consist of what you do when you wake up in the morning, have coffee, get ready to leave, the road/ route to work, starting your work, finishing work and going back home or going out. Doing the same things over and over again.

The advantage is that by doing so you will tend to spend less energy while doing the things that you have got to do anyway and you are not that interested in. It’s more comfortable and if you do them long enough you will soon do them on auto-pilot. This will allow you to save energy and focus on the important things you have to do.

The reverse of the medal is that the human body is a constantly adapting organism. Our life-style shapes it and the way it works. Once you have built a routine your body will get lazy and the energy you think you save won’t actually be there any more because your body will get lazy.

This will lead to you walking to work and not even realizing how you got there, without noticing changes that happen on the way – shops that change, a new painting on a wall, a new sign, a pink car on the way. Routine will slowly transform a person from an alert one into a half-asleep one.

If you like living life and things going by without you even noting them, then, by all means, build yourself routines, as many as you can. On the other hand, if you like to constantly be aware, to notice everything around you, then forget about routines. Constantly change your route to work, go to sleep and wake up at different hours, do something different each day.

Surprise your body and your mind. This will keep them alert and always ready for the new challenges ahead.

Supporting your local businesses

People would go to the local supermarket to save 1 dollar instead of going to the local store owned by someone from the community.

People would rather buy clothes from a big fashion retailer just because of its brand, even if they could get the same or even a better quality for a local brand which probably would charge them less.

People would rather eat at a big fast food chain even if they could go out and enjoy a great meal from a local restaurant.

People would rather buy things from a multinational company while a local company could offer a similar solution.

Money is made to go around, be exchanged, travel, but as it travels farther and with multiple nods on the way it will come back harder and in a smaller amount. Thus, the choices listed above will take money out of the local community and move it to a different one.

While everyone is free to choose whatever they want, a small short term benefit might lead to a long term inconvenience. It’s important to know that these choices will have an important influence on the way local communities develop and on one’s happiness.

The closer a thing is to you, the greater impact on your well-being it will have.

Work vs play time

In the dream case scenario, people love their work, everything is fun, they play all day long doing what they enjoy. In real life, no matter how much you love your work there are always things that you don’t enjoy that much, things that you are afraid to do, but go ahead and do them nevertheless because these are the ones that bring real value to your work, routine, a client with whom you can’t have the relationship you would want.

All of these will lead to work being work, even if pleasant, and play time being the time you entirely spend having fun and enjoying yourself. I am a firm believer in balance in every single aspect of life, from diet, to spending time with friends but also meeting new people, to working out but also relaxing, to work vs play time.

In our society people tend to spend a lot more time working than playing. Many spend a lot of time making the money to buy different things – houses, cars, gadgets and other objects – but don’t spend as much time enjoying them as they spent getting the money to buy them.

Life isn’t about owning a lot of stuff or being famous or successful, it’s about enjoying, traveling, loving, building relationships, creating memories, having fun, having passions, laughing, doing crazy things; it’s about living.

Work hard but play even harder.

If you…

make a promise be sure to keep it.

have a dream follow it to the end.

make a mistake admit it and learn from it.

fear something go do it. Now!

fall, get up and try again, fail, fall, get up.

make a commitment to deliver then do it, and do it on time.

Everything you say should be backed-up by action. Words are meaningless without you committing to them and acting accordingly. It is incredibly easy to throw words around but extremely hard to step up and do the work.

Words are just empty sounds if they’re not followed by actions.

What makes you memorable

That is going to be the key to our success. This is the element you have to focus your attention, time and skills on. Being memorable will make the difference between you having to fight for everyone else’s attention and having everyone else fighting for your attention; it will make you stand out in the crowd.

Don’t confuse being memorable with only standing out in the crowd though. While standing out in the crowd is not a really hard thing to do it won’t help you much. If you stand out but you have nothing important to say, to offer or deliver, then all you will have created is just some buzz.

Being memorable, on the other hand, will make you stand out from the crowd and at the same time will make people remember you. You will need to offer something that people can’t ignore and that once seen will stay in their minds for a long period of time. To achieve this you will need to be able to deliver, to offer something that no one is offering, to come with better quality, better services, unique ideas. In other words you will need to take risks, to explore, to face your fears, to fail, to try again, to experiment.

Forget normal. Be memorable.

A thing Elvis once told me

On a late Saturday night while having an interesting conversation about the future of the world and the human race,  political systems, technology, marketing, motivation, authenticity, leadership and relationships, Elvis told me something that stuck with me. Even if it’s not something new, it’s something everyone who is an achiever, who has high goals and wants to be successful should have in mind.

“Be remembered” means that you have done something worth being noticed in your life. It means you were good in your field of activity, that you have delivered some important products or services, that you did something others don’t usually do or are afraid of doing, that you meant the world for some, that you donated to charity, that you fought for a cause.

“Solve a real problem” is about the impact the things from above had on someone else’s life. While you can use everything above for your own good, to become rich, and to be popular, you can also use them to help others. Solving a real problem means also caring about someone except yourself.

“Be in the books over the years” combines the first two, but adds one more element – how many people did your actions influence. You can be remembered by a single person or a small group, but you can also touch the lives of billions, as your actions can solve personal or local problems but just as well solve global problems. If you want to be in the books, your actions need to have a global effect and touch people from all around the world.

“Be remembered, solve a real problem, be in the books over the years” – Elvis Apostol.

What people pay extra for

Someone buying a bottle of wine from the supermarket will pay 10$ for it. If they go to a restaurant they will pay for the same bottle 30$. Still, I never heard someone complain about the price of the wine bottles in restaurants.

While in the example above people will pay more for a product due to a combination of factors, there are situations when people will pay more for a single element. That is the key to success some companies find and exploit.

This is what you should be searching for, and when you do find it, exploit it to the maximum, but don’t stop. Search for others things to add, find the perfect mix to take you to the top.

People will pay extra for:

  • Better services – staff with a smile on their faces, a friendly greeting, staff using their first name
  • Quality – the better the product product is, the more people will be willing to pay
  • Fast delivery – people want it now
  • Scarcity – the harder it is to find and the less they are, the better. If you are the only one who can offer something that people need, you struck gold
  • Proximity – people are lazy. If you bring it to their backyard it’s perfect
  • Natural – if it’s bio, no additives, ecological, resources friendly
  • Custom made items – people love to have something made especially for them

These are just a few examples. You can use these or find a lot more. It’s up to you how hard you are willing to search and invest in order to make people more satisfied and pay more.

Fighting a battle for the cheapest product is just a race to the bottom.

Talking about success

As I said before in Success vs happiness, success can be personal or social. Even if personal success is the one more likely to bring you happiness, social success comes with a lot of benefits. Successful people are always in the spotlight (getting a lot of attention which feeds their ego), get more offers of collaboration and work which will allow them to charge higher and get better deals, and enjoy a lot of other benefits. This is why many people try to achieve success.

Social success is defined by the exposure you get. This can be obtained in two ways: do the work, invent, create and deliver something important and meaningful for others or create enough buzz, get enough attention to get in the spotlight.

Sometimes exposure can be all you need in order to become successful, even if the work you have done is not that important. This is usually achieved by people who can create enough buzz around them to get noticed. You will usually see them on TV on different shows, at networking events, meetings and conferences talking about their work, about their success and what great things they have achieved.

On the other hand there are the people who have done the work, the meaningful stuff everyone is talking about. You will notice that these people are the ones about whom people usually talk without them saying a word or even with them being there. These are the ones focused on delivering. They know that their work is important and meaningful that they don’t need to talk about it and so they focus on doing their thing.

You can either talk your way to success or do the work that will get you there. The only difference is that the work will remain even after you shut your mouth.