Be Remarkable

purple cow


For those of you who haven’t read Seth Godin’s book “Purple Cow” or any of his books for that matter, I highly suggest that you pick one up and prepare to be blown away.  He talks about how traditional marketing model is no longer an effective way to get the word out about your product or service.  And as the title suggest, it’s incredibly important to stand out in the marketplace by finding your purple cow strategy.

As Godin explains throughout the book, the problem with creating the ideal purple cow for many  organizations is that people are afraid of taking the risk and standing out in the marketplace.  He makes a great reference to the fact that from an early age, we are conditioned to sit quietly in the crowd, follow someone else’s rules and play it safe.  We’re afraid that when we fail or make effort to stand out among the crowd, many times we are criticized by our audience and suddenly the stage becomes quite lonely as a leader.

Many of us have been sold a false sense that criticism follows failure and that being invisible, anonymous, un-criticized and safe is that way to play the game throughout life.  Godin makes a great point when he says “In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”  The reality is that the biggest risk in life is actually not standing out and being boring.   I challenge everyone to break the mold of quiet mediocrity and show the world how remarkable you are with your own purple cow.


Starting with me

I’m sure that most of us can relate to the lyrics behind many of our favorite songs. I can find a connection to a lot of music that I listen to (probably why I listen to it) and like to expand my reach across all types of musical genre when I throwing some jams on the radio, well in today’s tech world Pandora or Spotify on the IPhone. It can be anything from a little classical while studying or thinking, to rap music on a weekend (sometimes weeknights too) when I’m about to head out on the town with my friends for some good times, or some classic rock while on the treadmill or throwing around some weights at the gym. Music & the lyrics that are behind the sound, have the ability to cheer us up, make us laugh, trigger tears over a break-up or lost loved one, and make for some great times w/ friends especially at a mid-summer concert with a cold beverage in your hand!

I grew up in the country, parents listened to country music and my first concert was one and only Garth Brooks. From what I recall as a little one new to the concert scene, this was an incredible show! Anyone can just run out and walk around the stage, but who other than him would fly out of the rafters at the Pontiac Silver-dome near Detroit and sell-out numerous shows in a weekend requiring that they add another one just to meet the demand!

All the fun and memories aside, music also provides us a point for reflection as well. I was cruising down the road, listing to Jake Owen’s song “Starting with me” the other day and took some time to think about what it meant to me.

Lessons learned:

Regret – We all have regrets in our lives and we all make mistakes. That’s part of the learning process that we go through to become better individuals. From a toddler learning their first steps, to missing that final shot to win the basketball championship, failing to get into our favorite college or messing up that interview for what you think is the perfect job because you stayed out the night before partying in college (yes I did do this). Our mistakes only have the ability to make us better when we reflect on them and take action to avoid making the same mistake twice. Publish your own lyrics to the world, I’m sure someone out there would love to learn from your missteps.

Love – Where to begin on this one?? In the course of dating over the years, I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes in this category. Some of them, I’d rather not discuss in a forum such as this. But one thing I do know, is that having a great grasp on who we are as a person and what we are looking for in a spouse to complement us takes a great deal of reflection. In my case, not having the perspective of what I wanted to achieve in life and how a partner would fit into that equation caused me to learn many things from my dating life along with make many mistakes. If your single, embrace the opportunity to learn the most you can about yourself along with meet as many people as possible. You my never again have this much freedom to do what you want, when you want with who you want. If your going through a break-up, throw on some favorite tunes and reflect about why it didn’t work out, what you want in life and learn how you can better prepare for the next dating opportunity. And lastly, if your in a great long term relationship, you should be sharing your advice with the world and myself!

Family – Family is a complicated one many times. Everyone of us has either done, will do or said something that we regret to our family members over the years. Whether its pawning your grandpas guitar (like Jake says) or crashing your dad’s tractor into a tree while doing work around the house then lying about it when he got home from work. The reality is, that our family members are some of the most forgiving and understanding people in our lives. Take a moment today to be blessing, encourage a family member and take responsibility for any wrongs you’ve committed. While it may feel uncomfortable to do so, the freedom that accompanies this will lift a weight off your shoulders and set the stage for a stronger relationship with your family members.

Embrace lessons from your peers, business associates, mentors, favorite musicians, family or friends. Take accountability for your actions in life by starting the focus on yourself when reflecting on mistakes that you make in life. In the end, we all end up benefiting when you start with you.

Passion Capital

The following story relates to the creation of the hit TV show, The Apprentice:

In the wake of the success with Survivor Mark Burnett met Donald Trump, and said they should do a series together. The next time Burnett was in New York, he called Trump to say he was working on an idea but wasn’t ready yet.  Trump told him to come and pitch it anyway.  Burnett did, worried that he hadn’t really thought it through.  He made the pitch, and the famously decisive Trump said, “I like it, let’s do it.”  He told his assistance to get his agent on the phone and get a contract drawn up.  

Burnett spoke briefly to Trump’s agent, who was furious that he hadn’t been in the room when the deal was struck.  He listened to Burnett pitch his idea once more over the phone, then he said he didn’t like it and he was going to advice Trump not to do it.  Trump bellowed for his assistant to get on the phone and said “You’re Fired!” and hung up.  

Trump had just found his new tag line for the show “Your Fired!”


Follow your instincts and stay true to your Brand.  

MLB, Apollo 13 & Leadership

MLB, Apollo 13 & Leadership

“Whether it’s in baseball or business, the true five-tool player is a rare find — so much so that most successful teams don’t have any five-tool players, let alone multiple players with more than one skill. What the best teams have are individuals who recognize what capabilities they have and which they lack, and subsequently complement one another such that in the aggregate, they have the ability to draw upon all five tools.” Jeff Weiner — Founder, CEO & Investor

This is a fantastic read!  I specifically like the approach he uses by mentioning the Apollo 13 scene where the NASA team on back on Earth are given the task of creating a Co2 filter from all these random parts that are on the Apollo spacecraft (I also like this analogy bc I’m a huge fan of what movies can teach us).  He relates this scene to the point that in life or business, we are all going to face obstacles at some point.  Some of us encounter more setbacks than others, and face tremendous learning curves in looking for solutions to their problems.  I can say this from my own experience and that of others I have worked with.  However, I know that by facing these obstacles head on you will find that you will almost always end up successful on the other side if not at least much better off as a person, creative thinker and leader.

By embracing the challenges in front of us, creating an plan and working toward what Jeff says in his post “looking for those five tool superstars” we can attack problems head on and form ideas to make the leap over obstacles that are in front of our teams.   Everyone has some specific skill(s) and value(s) that they can add to the team, it’s up to us as leaders to help utilize everyone’s talents around us in ways that provide the best return toward accomplishing our groups goals.

Creative Thinking

“Your Job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can be influenced by” –Austin Kleon author of Steal Like an Artist

Another mentor of mine Jim Rohn would also say, “be a constant collector of good ideas”.

I have found that by surrounding yourself with people who are more creative you are, the process by which good ideas come to you is dramatically increased.  I had the chance to experience an event at a co-working space in Grand Rapids, Michigan this past weekend where there were so many incredibly bright and talented hackers, hustlers, entrepreneurs, leaders, investors and just ambitious people that were looking to come together and leverage each persons ability to bring great ideas to the table to solve problems.  We all have unique talents and experiences that through which we are able to leverage and compound on an incredible scale when put in an environment that promotes open, creative and collaborative thinking.  I challenge everyone this week, to expose themselves to experiences through which they would normally not be a part of and look to leverage those opportunities for developing habits through which great ideas can form.  You’ll be amazed with the process and the outcomes that accompany small changes in your surrounding environment and daily activities.

Embrace Failure

I know in my family failure was something that was never embraced as most the people closest to me held the same job for most if not all of their lives. There is a stigma against taking risk and embracing your failures by instead avoiding the opportunity during which you could fall. I have opted to take the route that failure and the lessons that accompany the fall are some of the best ways to learn in life. I’m reminded of the latest “Batman” movies, when Bruce Wayne’s father reminds his son that failure is a necessary evil in our lives when he poses the question “Why do we fall? So we can pick ourselves back up”. While such a simple saying, it is something that I will always encourage people within my inner circle to embrace. I look forward to the day in which my failures can become valuable lessons in other people’s lives.