Recently, I attended a family get-together in Cleveland, OH. While at lunch with several family members, I struck up a conversation with one of my distant cousins. He has 3 kids, one of which is a teenager. We began discussing our families and soon began discussing the wonders of teenagers. He said something that struck me:
“Remember how when we were kids we all just wanted to be like everyone else? Well at some point as we get older we realize how silly that is and how, in fact, the real interesting people are the ones that are different. That don’t dress, talk and act like everyone else. My goal is to teach my kids sooner rather than later that being different is not only ok, but good.”
What a concept!
In life AND in business, different is not only good it’s ESSENTIAL. Most successful businesses find success by being different. Some do it by re-imagining products and services in a new and unique way. Others create small incremental changes that make substantial improvements on old concepts, products and services.
The John Lee Dumas Clones
John Lee Dumas burst on to the podcast scene not too long ago, and absolutely has been killing it!
In a good way. No, in a great way!
Being a podcast junkie himself and having run out of podcasts to listen to, he decided to launch the first 7 day-a-week interview-based podcast.
Certainly an audacious goal.
He was clearly up for the challenge. Six months or so after launching, he began to gain big traction. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that he is doing extremely well in this medium.
John, however, did not find success by being like everyone else. He learned from others but differentiated himself based on his own uniqueness and style.
Combined with his high energy-style, military discipline, FOCUS, and right hand partner (in business and in life), Kate Erickson, he launched Entrepreneur on Fire.
John’s podcast is one of the most popular ones in the entrepreneurial space. He has incredible guests and does great interviews. From this, John has built a tremendous business.
I think it is fair to say that John has not accomplished all he has by being like everyone else.
A sad by-product of John’s success, though, are all those trying to copy his way to success.
Don’t believe me? Tune in sometime to some of the entrepreneurial podcasts out there, it won’t take long before you start hearing ones that sound a lot like John. Same interview questions, same attempted style.
But here’s the thing: No one else can be John, but John.
And that is a good thing.
We all have something in us that is different, special & unique. And sooner or later most of us realize our time is better spent identifying and embracing our own uniqueness rather than mimicking others.
Different for the sake of being different, though, is no good. You must be different with a purpose.
I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Chris Brogan. Chris has a fantastic book called: The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits and World Dominators (I highly recommend it).
In it, he speaks to the inner “freak” that defines each and every one of us and helps us figure out where we fit in.
Every successful person I know is a “freak” of some sort.
But nothing is freaky about cheap imitation.
It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation. – Herman Melville
The best compliment we can all pay to John Lee Dumas and other “freaks” is to NOT be like them.
Because we are not them. Never will be. And never should want to be.
Be You. And You will always Be.