The World According to You

The time on my bedside clock is four hours and 45 minutes behind the actual time.

Is it because I am trying to trick myself into staying up late so I can binge-watch old episodes of Derry Girls? No, but now that you mention it, that’s not a bad idea.

The real reason is that we had a power outage about four months ago. Only my wife, Linda, knows how to change the clock time, and since I only need it if I get up in the middle of the night, the fix just hasn’t happened.

Frankly, I have grown to like my middle-of-the-night, time-calculating routine: Add five hours, subtract 15 minutes.

So, if I wake up and the clock reads 11 PM, I add five to get 16, which is 4 AM (try to stay with me, Americans) and subtract 15 minutes to get 3:45 AM.

I think what I like most about this little game of mine is that I am the only person on Earth (well, other than you now, I suppose) who knows how to tell time on that particular clock.

Granted, when it comes to superpowers, mine is a distant second behind X-Ray vision or getting along with your brother-in-law’s new wife at Thanksgiving.

But it’s unique to me, as is my fascination with this little diversion. Just ask Linda, who finds it borderline idiotic.

When you sell a professional service, it’s hard (maybe impossible) to stand out based on your experience, credentials, or capability. Everyone you compete with who’s worth taking seriously has whatever you have.

What they don’t have, however, is your particular approach or point of view – the things you consider essential … or just fascinating.

Those things can serve to separate you from the pack. And separating from the pack is pretty much the point of marketing.

For example, here are some things I believe regarding small or independent professional service firm marketing:

  • It’s way easier to get the people you already know to listen, refer, and hire you than it is to get strangers to do the same. So focus on tactics that keep you visible with those people and feel free to ignore everything else.
  • Beware of people who are too eager to hire you. Desperate people are not thinking clearly and they make lousy clients.
  • The narrower your focus, in terms of what you say you do and who you say you work with, the more work you will have. Having more theoretical clients has no correlation with having more actual clients.

I could go on, but you get the idea. These are things I feel strongly about; foundational things regarding my approach to marketing.

So, am I right? No. (Although I am unnervingly attractive.)

Someone else, who may have an equal amount of success and experience, may take an entirely different approach.

And that’s really the point. The people who feel drawn to the things we write or say are our best clients and referral sources. The people who are not are a better fit for someone else.

Just to be clear, I am not talking here about describing what you do, sharing your personality, or having a niche, although all of those things are also important.

I’m talking about having and expressing a point of view regarding the work you do and the body of knowledge you are steeped in.

More examples…

Maybe you are … an attorney who thinks people who take an adversarial approach to negotiation always come away with less on behalf of their clients.

Maybe you are … a leadership coach who thinks assessment tools are a waste of time.

Maybe you are … a recruiter who thinks interviews are so subjective that they shouldn’t even be part of the hiring process.

In all three of those (totally made up) examples, qualified people in those same fields might strongly disagree.

Some things to ask yourself…

Where do you break ranks with your fellow (insert your profession here)?

What pieces of advice make you cringe whenever you hear them offered by someone else in your industry?

What “best practices” in your field do you think are misguided?

What points or clarifications do you find yourself making to clients over and over?

It’s unlikely you can do all this in one sitting. But if you start paying attention and keeping track, it won’t take long before you come up with a list of your beliefs.

Then start talking and writing about them – with clients, with prospects, with colleagues, with your brother-in-law’s new wife.

The goal is to get a handle on the world according to you – and to keep talking about it.

That’s how you become known for something. It’s a beacon that helps the people who are a good match find their way to you.

Gotta run. It’s lunchtime (I think).

Discussion Questions:

  1. What superpower would you most like to possess?
  2. What odd habit do you have that makes your significant other roll their eyes?
  3. What’s something you believe that others in your profession tend to disagree with?

Share your answers below…

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12 thoughts on “The World According to You

  1. Jennifer D Wilkins

    1. I would like the ability to freeze time if I could have a superpower.
    2. I do the same thing with my clock. However, I know how to change the time. My bedside clock is set at the same time all year round.
    3. That you don’t need a niche.

  2. Angela Ohme

    1. Superpower of choice – flying. I even dream that I can do this!
    2. We have two light switches to our bedroom light. I’ll go out of my way to make sure the switch nearest the door is “correct”.
    3. You definitely do NOT need a niche.

  3. Ebuka Anichebe

    1. I wish I could appear and disappear to any location at the speed of thought. I will avoid unnecessary airport inspections. And maybe visit the Federal Reserve Bank once or twice a year to help myself.

    2. After watching any action movie, for the next 24-48 hours I immediately assume that I am the main character and I will imitate their voice, behaviour and even say the same lines. My wife rolls her eyes many times, I fear it would unscrew one day and fall off.

    3. I believe that not every training workshop should end with a certificate presented. The objective should be the application of knowledge and not merely the possession of a certificate.

  4. Keanisha Mona Johnson

    I thought about this for a while. I would like to have the super power of Talking to animals. My cat in particular. I always want to know what my pet’s thoughts are.

  5. Mark

    1. SuperPower… To understand why people do (or don’t do) what they do. This is not so I can control them, just to observe them and say, “Ahh, I get it!” I mean, as an outsider, I find American politics absolutely fascinating and, at the same time, disturbing. If you understand why Americans do what they do politically, please let me know.
    2. There’s a great line from a TV show… it was in a eulogy given by one of the main characters about his wife… He said, “I suspect that in the days ahead, the things she did that irritated me the most, will be the things that I miss the most.”
    3. Back when I had a real job… Head of L&D for a very successful multinational company… I maintained that L&D’s #1 job was to help drive the company’s business results, not create fancy PPT slide presentations. In short, we were business people who train, NOT trainers who were employed by a business.

  6. Jean in FL

    1. The ability to predict the future and change it when it doesn’t suit me. Think of all the lotteries I would win1

    2. I am single. Maybe my odd habits are why.

    3. Definitely no niche for me. Everything is interesting, so I prefer no limits to what I’ll do for clients.


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