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Weekly 3: Make yourself memorable

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Idea Journal Weekly 3

May 2 · Issue #189 · View online

We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.


Summary: Increasing competition makes it harder to stand out. This issue explores a few ideas to make yourself more memorable.
(~3 min read)

#1. To get a remarkable job, be remarkable yourself
Author and marketing guru Seth Godin writes in his book The Purple Cow that to stand out in the job market, what you do when you’re not looking for a job is more important than any job-seeking technique.
The key to securing a remarkable job and career is to make yourself remarkable: exceptional, worth noticing and talking about.
For Godin, remarkable people are those who do “outrageous” work: they take on risky, high-profile projects that sometimes end in big failures. But those failures rarely lead to a dead end – instead, they increase the chances that their next project will be even better.
The result is that these people switch jobs with much less effort, and they’re often recruited from jobs they love to jobs they love even more. They usually don’t need a resume because their references and reputation speak for them. Plus, they know that a “standard resume is nothing but an opportunity for a prospective employer to turn you down.”
You can think of applying to jobs as a form of advertising, similar in some respects to buying TV ads.
And in an increasingly competitive job market, the strategy of simply sending your resume to dozens or hundreds of prospective employers, or posting it to an online database with millions of others, is rarely effective: “your resume is likely to land on the desk of someone with no interest whatsoever in you or what you’re up to.”
If being remarkable seems too difficult or risky, it may be because you’re looking at risk through the wrong lens.
As Godin puts it, in your career, being safe is what’s risky: “The path to lifetime job security is to be remarkable.”
#2. Be "first to mind"
For marketing strategists Al Ries and Jack Trout, the first of their 22 “immutable laws of marketing” is the Law of Leadership: “It’s better to be first than it is to be better.”
Ries and Trout argue that this law can be applied to any brand, category or product for the following reasons:
  • Conceptual inertia and the cost of switching: it’s easier to get into a person’s mind first than it is to convince them that you have a better product than the one that did get there first.
  • The brand or product that’s first in a category often tends to remain in a leadership position because its name becomes generic; they cite examples from Gore-Tex to Kleenex.
  • Marketing is more a battle of perceptions than products. Regardless of reality, “people perceive the first product into the mind as superior.”
They use two familiar “brands” to demonstrate their point:
  • George Washington was the first President of the United States, but who was the second? (Answer: John Adams)
  • Advil was first in the ibuprofen market, but what was the second? (Answer: Nuprin)
And yet, because of timing or other factors, being first to market may not always be possible.
For Ries and Trout, that’s why there are 21 other laws, including the Law of the Category: “If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category that you can be first in.”
#3. Do people remember what you say?
Former advertising executive Michael Parker writes in his book It’s Not What You Say that even when you have the most well-prepared speech or pitch, your message may ultimately be forgotten by your audience in the days and weeks ahead.
To help ensure that it stays in their minds, he recommends taking the “Memorable Test” by including at least one of the following elements in what you’re presenting: 
  • A compelling story
  • A catchy phrase
  • “A piece of pure theater”
  • An unexpected setting
  • A startling visual
  • Audience participation
  • Best of all: an idea
Quote of the week
“Being memorable equals getting picked.”
- Author and Professor of Organizational Behavior Jeffrey Pfeffer in his book Power
Idea Journal
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