Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tips to Promote Your Breakthrough Idea and STAND OUT!

Other than going on TV’s “Shark Tank” to pitch a product or service idea to Mark Cuban and friends, do you know how to promote that amazing idea you thought of in the middle of the night? Don’t just forget it. Read Dorie Clark’s new book, “Stand Out, How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It.”

In today’s crowded market, it’s necessary to stand out. Whether you work in a small mom-and-pop restaurant, a midsize financial services firm, or a Fortune 1000 manufacturing business, every employee has something unique to offer – and should stand out.

Dorie Clark, a marketing and strategy consultant and adjunct business professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, offers countless tips in her new book. “Thought leadership is about solving real problems and making a difference in a way that creates value for yourself and for others. True thought leadership is a gift. It’s a willingness to be brave, open up, and share yourself. It’s a willingness to risk having your ideas shot down, because you genuinely believe they can help others.”

To become a thought leader, Dorie suggests you ask yourself:
* What are others overlooking?
* What are the assumptions underlying your field? Have they been tested? If so, have circumstances changed in the interim?
* What questions do newbies in your field often ask that get shot down or dismissed?
* What’s the conventional wisdom about how to do things “the right way” in your field? What if it were the opposite? What would that look like?
* What do most people in your field think would be impossible? Is it really, or is it just difficult?

To find your breakthrough idea and define your niche, Dories suggests you ask yourself:
* What personal experience have you had that’s changed your view of the world?
* What experiences have you had that others in your field most likely have not?
* How does that difference shape your view of your industry?
* What is the traditional background of influential players in your field? Is there a way to leverage being the opposite of this?
* What weakness can become your strength?

To learn how to adapt to a new situation, Dorie suggests you ask yourself:
* How have other industries solved this problem?
* Can these strategies be imported into your company or field, and what would that look like?
* What would be easy or hard to fit into the existing culture?
* How could you tweak the ideas so they become even more effective?

A memorable example was shared. In preparation for Tom Peters’ timeless treatise In Search of Excellence, he visited HP headquarters. He was surprised that he was not provided with a visitor’s badge, but instead, given access throughout the company. He saw that the president worked in a small cubicle rather than a huge corner office – a foreign concept during the 1980’s but typical today. But most importantly, Peters was introduced to the concept of “Managing by Walking Around (MBWA),” a business practice that has become standard operating procedure for effective presidents/CEOs today. The example was included to show that to stand out, people really need to think outside the box and not follow established rules.

And another example may spark you to action. Angela Lussier, a career coach, spent most of her time while working at a recruiting firm providing resume advice. Her bosses were upset that she spent too much time giving away free advice, so she quit her job to start her own career coaching company. With only $2,000 and no clients, she realized she had jumped ship before creating a business plan and raising necessary capital. First, she called college career centers and offered to provide free career tips, but none said yes. Then, she called nearly 30 libraries and offered career planning workshops. She was rejected by all of them until one said yes. Thanks to that one library, she booked 32 workshops over the next two months – and as a result, began a successful business doing what she has a passion to do.

To learn more about how to stand out, add Dorie to your "must follow" list on Twitter @dorieclark and visit her website.