Ignore the Competition

I read a terrific blog post yesterday about musician John Mayer visiting his alma mater, Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Among the many interesting things he said, this point jumped out at me:


“Nobody’s music is the enemy of your music…The idea that someone else has made it when they shouldn’t have made it is toxic thinking.”


As a solo professional, I’ve sometimes caught myself reacting to the success of someone else by thinking that they’re somehow taking away from my success. John’s point – “Nobody’s music is the enemy of your music” – was a good reminder that the idea of a fixed size pie is an illusion.


Think about it this way. There are millions of people who could potentially hire you.  Of those, you need what, 20?, 30?, maybe 50 clients this year to do really well? It’s a tiny fraction of the potential market.


Other people who do what you do aren’t worth worrying about.


Your job as a solo is to keep getting better (i.e., work on your “music”) and to keep finding ways to stay in front of the people who need what you offer.

30 thoughts on “Ignore the Competition

  1. Paul Forsberg

    Fabulous Post Michael.

    I agree with you completely. I have always felt competition is a good thing because you need it so you can compare your products or services to. They are nothing more than a gauge. They keep you “on-top” of your game. I tell my clients that all the time.

    When I was growing up, my dad was in business (still is), we had the BEST customer service in the industry. The business exploded in such a way that ALL the competition in the town went out of business. Thinking we had it made with a monopolistic hold proved to be almost a catastrophe.
    Our service slipped to just above horrible – employee training stopped, marketing systems ans strategies vanished, and so did the business. Our service and attitude slipped to something similar to the DMV or the Post Office. (Bold admission)

    Long story short, seeing an opportunity, competition slipped in under our stuck-up noses and almost put us out of business.

    Lucky for dad, my brother and I (who were in other businesses at the time) saw what was going on and got back in the business. Together, we brought back what was missing – World Class service and employee training, effective marketing campaigns, etc and within 2 years, began expanding the business.

    Marketing was my thing, and I have since went back out on my own, starting a Done-For-You marketing company http://BetterHalfMarketing.com and turned my sake in the business over to one of my boys (now a 4th generation business).

    Long story short, I believe you NEED competition to keep you sharp and on top of your game.

    Thanks for getting my juices flowing this morning. You just gave me something to blog about!

    1. Michael Katz

      Great story Paul. I worked 12 years for the cable company. We tried our best to offer great service, but we all knew that crapy-ish service was actually more profitable with few other options in the market. I guess shadow boxing isn’t the same as an actual opponent who might hit you!

  2. Dave Krajovic

    This is such sound wisdom. A while back, I used to worry a lot about what others were doing. I started to realize that what I put out I get back. So instead of putting out worry and secretly hoping for them to fail and me to succeed. I now bless them with success. Guess what? My business changed almost overnight with that change in the direction of energy. Bless everyone with prosperity. This is an abundant Universe. There is more than enough to go around.

    1. Michael Katz

      Love that sentiment Dave. I’m going to shift from “ignoring” to actively wishing others prosperity. Thanks.

  3. Doug Chovan

    Great motivational post Michael!

    What a way to start a Friday and begin gearing up for next week! I’ll be thinking about this advice frequently over the weekend!

    We often get bogged down by thinking there just isn’t any opportunity out there. It’s all taken. You just never know when your competition is falling short and then you somehow show up on your prospect’s doorstep to save the day!

    Thanks much for sharing this! It made my day (as well as the entire weekend for that matter!)

  4. Phil Winn

    I am my own best competition. My old employer the US Army had a slogan: “Be all that you can be”. A vision to be the best that I can be is my competition; not the guy down the street. Great post, Michael.

  5. Jane Sherwin

    Michael, someone once told me that it’s a mistake to think about competition as fighting for a pie with only so many slices. Once you get away from that you realize that the possibilities are huge–much of it, as Dave says, emerging when we stop worrying so much.

  6. Aimée Yawnick

    I wrote an article about this topic not too long ago. There actually isn’t any competition. Here’s why: If you are uniquely you and I am uniquely me, even if we do similar things, offer similar services or even if we sell the exact same product, we bring our special uniqueness to the table and THAT is what makes us different. Hence there is no competition!

    There are coaches everywhere. Even people who aren’t coaches are saying they are coaches because it’s so trendy to be a coach these days. Even if a coach sets up shop right next door to me offering the same results and benefits I offer, there is NO WAY she can deliver what I deliver to my clients. Because she is not ME and she just can’t do what I do the way I do it. No one can. Except me!

    Thanks for sharing this valuable perspective! ~Aimée

    1. Michael Katz

      That’s a great point Aimee. Can you share the article your wrote here with a link so we can all see it?

      Speaking of coaches, especially the highly visible ones, I always find it interesting how each has his/her own following of people. The information may be similar but the style is different and ultimately, as you point out, that’s what attracts/repels people.

      (BTW, every time I reply to one of your comments I wish I knew how to add the accent above the “e” in your name! How do you do it?)

      1. Aimée Yawnick

        lol! It took me years to figure this out. I have a Mac, so I don’t know if this works with a PC too. Hold down the ‘option/alt’ key and the ‘e’ at the same time and the accent will appear. Release the option key and type the ‘e’ again. Thanks for asking. 🙂

        Thanks also for the invitation to post the link to my article. http://bit.ly/qQPt9N

        Off to the Cape, have a great weekend!

        P.S. Loved the story when you shaved your head. My husband has for years. I forwarded your article to him and he got a good chuckle as you described the feeling, especially when you slid onto your pillow. Good stuff!

  7. Debra Murphy

    Hi Michael,

    I never worry about other people who do what I do. I don’t view them as competition – I view them as potential referrals. People hire you because of a connection they make with you. They hire the other person because they connect with that other person better. That’s just human nature. The clients I work with all connect with me on some level, making our business relationship more satisfying. Those who don’t connect with me, I refer to one of my “competitors”. It’s a win-win for everyone.

    Great post.

    1. Michael Katz

      All in support of the idea that the best marketing is an authentic reflection of who we really are. The better to be found by the right people. Thanks for posting Debra!

  8. Jeremy Bromberg

    Right on!

    Focusing on the competition distracts entrepreneurs from how best to address client needs. It also potentially adds a level of emotion to something best handled rationally. Further, as Youngme Moon points out in her book, Different, addressing challenges from competitors is more likely to lead to product / service sameness instead of differentiation.

  9. Leigh Spencer

    I love that quote and this post! We make hand crafted furniture and instead of competing with other makers like us in Los Angeles, we formed a group to try to promote as a group and support each other. As stated above, we are all unique, so we are not really competitors. Promoting the unique work of others benefits our genre as a whole. And it’s more fun and feels better than being competitive!

  10. Sara McGoodwin

    Fabulous post, Michael. Thank you. I think we all need reminders about the value of our uniqueness. Honing and refining our own gifts is a sure-fire way to develop our businesses. I encourage my readers to “be their best selves” when it comes to romance, but I think it applies throughout all aspects of our lives.

    Envy of others is an energy suck. Our time is always better spent focusing on positive aspects (yes, even the competition has things to teach us!) of whatever it is that we are giving our attention to. I appreciate any (perceived) competition I may have because while studying them in a positive light, I get to gain additional perspectives that I may not have come to on my own.

    I’ve also noticed that the more I give away in terms of encouragement and kudos, the more I receive in turn. We live in an abundant universe and deserve to thrive!

    Thanks again for your delicious post!

  11. Doug Sowerbutts

    Great stuff Michael….competition is critical to ones success, it brings out the best to everyone’s advantage. Doug

  12. Barbara Shea

    Amen! Why waste time worrying about what other people are doing–work on being your own best self.

  13. Alan Fairweather

    Good post Michael!
    Yours is one of the few newsletters, out of all the ones I receive, that I actually read. Kinda says it all!
    I’ve Tweeted/FB’d this round my universe.
    Best regards

    1. Michael Katz

      Thanks Alan. Given all the choices you have I appreciate it! And thanks for spreading the word too.


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