Friday, February 23, 2007

The World is a Mirror, Part 21

A is for ATTITUDE
B is for BREAK PATTERNS
C is for CONSISTENCY
D is for DISCIPLINE
E is for EVOLUTION
F is for FRIENDLINESS
G is for GOOD WITH NAMES
H is for HAPPINESS
I is for IDEAS
J is for JOY
K is for KNOWLEDGE
L is for LAUGHTER
M is for MUNDANE
N is for NAMETAGS
O is for OFF BUTTON
P is for PAINT YOURSELF INTO A (GOOD) CORNER
Q is for QUICK
R is for RUDE PEOPLE
S is for SERVICE
T is for TIME
U is for UNIQUE

For many years I thought the words “different” and “unique” meant the same thing.

I was wrong.

The word DIFFERENT comes from the Latin word differre, which means, “to stand out.”

The word UNIQUE comes the Latin word unicus, which means “the only one.”

Here’s an example.

Imagine there are two potential hires for your firm’s new IT Director. After the interviews are over, the HR Director reports back to you.

“The first guy was Seth. You would have loved him! He was so unique!”

“The second guy was Phil. Phil was … (sigh) … different.”

Who would you hire?

Exactly.

And there’s a reason I bring this up. See, it seems like most business books I read, most marketing interviews I watch and most entrepreneurs I meet make some mention of “the value of being different.”

No.

No, no, no, NO!

Different is the enemy of unique.

Focus your efforts on being:

o The ONLY one who __________.
o The ONLY company that _________.
o The ONLY organization that ________.

Because when you’re unique, when you’re the only one, you WILL stand out.

Here’s one more example.

January 14th, 2005. I receive the greatest piece of hate mail ever:

Dear Scott:

Let’s face it, buddy: the whole nametag thing is totally stupid. Come on. You’ve already written a book about it. So what’s next? Nothing! You have nowhere to go! You think you’re so unique. But there’s really nothing unique about wearing a nametag all the time. Anybody could’ve done that. And there’s nothing unique about your book. Anybody could’ve written that.


Ouch. That’s cold, man.

I wanted to shake it off.
I wanted to love the hater.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

I stayed up all night re-reading that email in my head. Didn’t get a wink of sleep. And those four words kept chiming like church bells:

Anybody could’ve done that.
Anybody could’ve done that.
Anybody could’ve done that.


I never told anyone about that letter.

Maybe because I was ashamed.
Maybe because I didn’t know the answer.
Maybe because I was afraid that guy was right.

That all this time, I wasn’t really unique.

Either way, it didn’t resurface until about a year later.

I had just returned to St. Louis after a giving a speech in Orlando. My Dad and I sat down to dinner to talk about the growth of my business.

I mentioned the letter.

Then, in this almost eerie, yet proud tone that only a father could project, he said with a nod and a smile, “Scott, it’s not about the nametag.”

“Huh?”

“It’s not about the nametag,” he laughed.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, you’ve been at this thing going on seven years now. Think about everything that’s happened: the books, the speeches, the company you started, the change you’ve brought about to yours and hundreds of thousands of people’s lives; everything that’s evolved since the day you first stuck that nametag on your shirt. It’s pretty remarkable, doncha think!?”

“Yeah, I…I guess it is,” I nodded.

“You see Scott, the fact that you wear a nametag every day is, well, different,” he chuckled. “Because anybody could do that.”

“But what you’ve DONE with it, well, you’re the only one who could have pulled that off. And THAT is what makes you unique.”

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Are you different or unique?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Tell us why in 8 words or less.

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

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