My wife Linda and I both turned 50 this year. (Editor’s note: She’s older.) And while we knew we wanted to do something special to commemorate our collective 100 years, we weren’t quite sure what it should be.
Huge party? Nah. Too much work.
Romantic cruise in the Caribbean? Hmm … probably not. What if there’s a hurricane?
Sort of. I say sort of, because while neither of us wanted to go “real” skydiving, we were both intrigued by the fake skydiving offered at SkyVenture in nearby Nashua, New Hampshire.
Here’s how it works. First, you put on a flight suit, sit through a 20-minute training class, and sign a waiver stating that you are more than three years old, less than 250 pounds, and not currently pregnant or drunk (that you know of).
Next, you kind of lean into a 15-foot (or so) diameter wind tunnel that’s filled with lots of fast moving air and one unbelievably patient instructor.
Your job: Maintain a ridiculous, curved back, flying squirrel posture at all times.
Your instructor’s job: Make aerodynamic adjustments to your body to keep you comfortably afloat; try not to laugh at how stupid you look in the hope that you’ll give him a big tip at the end.
It was only four minutes of total wind tunnel time, but I have to tell you, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve done in my 50 short years on Earth.
But here’s what I noticed: The best way to stay aloft in the tunnel is to move as little as possible. Any extra movement – waving to your three children, trying to stick your tongue out (really bad idea), or anything else that causes the wind to readjust around you – will immediately result in a loss of altitude and lots of wall bumping.
Believe it or not, positioning yourself and your firm as a “high flying” (sorry) expert, requires the same lack of movement in the messages you send.
Here’s what I mean …
One of the questions I receive frequently from clients, workshop participants, wind tunnel instructors and others who publish a monthly newsletter has to do with topic repetition. In general, there’s a concern with being repetitive and a widely held belief that once a particular topic has been covered it can never be touched again.
I don’t agree. In fact I think repetition of your point of view over the course of time is what gives readers a sense of who you are and what you believe. To put it another way, I think repetition of your point of view over the course of time is what gives readers a sense of who you are and what you believe.
Am I suggesting that you tell the same story again and again or reprint the same newsletter? No. That’s just plain boring.
What I am saying, however, is that part of what makes you an expert is that you have a particular set of beliefs regarding the big issues and ideas within your specialty.
… If you’re a financial planner you may believe in the value of sticking to a monthly household budget.
… If you’re a market research firm you may believe in the value of open-ended questioning.
… If you’re an intergalacticly famous E-Newsletter consultant you may believe in the value of authentic communication.
Whatever your “thing” is, you don’t have to worry about mentioning it more than once – that’s what you’re supposed to do. At least if you have any hope of another human being remembering it and associating it with you.
So all that said, here’s my simple, two-step process for cementing your standing as an expert in your field:
- Figure out what you believe in. What’s your philosophy? Your approach? Your point of view? Apart from whatever it is you sell. If you were going to carve your firm’s Ten Commandments into a stone (not that I’m suggesting this), what would it say?
- Deliberately weave these bigger concepts into everything you say and write – over and over and over again. Use repetition to help people connect the dots between you and your company’s core beliefs.
At the risk of repeating myself, if you want to be known for something, repetition is your friend. Is your friend.