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Weekly 3: Stand out from the crowd

Summary: Be the kind of person people want to hire. Combine your skills in a novel way. Put more of y

Idea Journal Weekly 3

September 23 · Issue #53 · View online
We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: Be the kind of person people want to hire. Combine your skills in a novel way. Put more of yourself into your product or service. (~5 min read)
Note: Idea #2 is taken from a previous issue, and we’ve included it here because it fits well with this issue’s core theme: how to stand out from the crowd.

#1. To secure a remarkable job, be remarkable.
Author and marketing guru Seth Godin writes in his book The Purple Cow that if you want 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. Identify your "talent stack" to increase the value of your work.
As author Scott Adams points out in a Dilbert blog post, capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable.
If you want to do something extraordinary, there are 2 strategies:
  1. Become the best at one specific skill.
  2. Get pretty good at 2 or more useful skills “until no one else has your mix.”
Unless you’re already the best in your world at some specific skill, Adams recommends that you choose strategy #2.
To do this, apply the following formula to create your own talent stack: develop a variety of “good-but-not-special skills” that complement each other and, when combined, create a whole that is stronger than the sum of its parts.
Adams acknowledges that the concept of the talent stack is responsible for his own success. There are plenty of people who excel at either writing or drawing, but there aren’t very many people who are even above average at both writing and drawing.
He writes that this combination, along with “ordinary business skills, my strong work ethic, my risk tolerance, and my reasonably good sense of humor” created just the right recipe for him to become a commercially successful syndicated cartoonist.
#3. How does your product or service reflect what's unique about you?
Entrepreneurs and authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson write in their book Rework that the best protection against competitors and copycats is to put more of yourself into your product or service.
What’s unique about you, your experiences, and how you think?
The key is to inject this uniqueness not only into the product or service itself, but also into everything around it: how you explain it, how you sell it, how you deliver it, and how you support it.
For Fried and Heinemeier Hansson, the online shoe retailer Zappos exemplifies this approach: founder Tony Hsieh’s obsession with customer service permeates the company’s culture and operations.
A pair of sneakers from Zappos is the same pair that you can get from any other retailer, but at Zappos customer-service employees don’t use scripts and are allowed to talk at length with customers; the call center and the headquarters are located in the same place; and every employee spends their first 4 weeks at the company answering phones and working in the warehouse.
This is what makes Zappos unique.
Quote of the Week
“… the original style is not the style which never borrows of any one, but that which no other person is capable of reproducing.”
- Writer and politician Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand in his book Le Genie du Christianisme (The Genius of Christianity)
Idea Journal
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