Author and marketing guru Seth Godin writes in his book Linchpin
that when he was a kid, he loved the Legion of Super-Heroes
and the Justice League of America
: “These were comics for slumming comic-book writers, fun and sort of stupid stories in which a whole bunch of superheroes would get together, hang out in the clubhouse, and then work together to destroy some sort of monster that any individual superhero could never have bested.”
Near the beginning of most of these comics, there was a scene where a stranger would meet the team of superheroes.
Batman and Superman wouldn’t need an introduction, but the lesser-known characters would have to speak up and describe their superpowers. For example: “I’m the Wasp. I have the ability to shrink to a height of several centimeters, fly by means of insectoid wings, and fire energy blasts.”
A sophisticated marketer might call this a positioning statement or a unique selling proposition.
But for Godin, “Of course, it’s not that. It’s a superpower.”
He suggests that when you meet someone new, you also need to have a superpower – “If you don’t, you’re just another handshake.”
If the other person doesn’t know your superpower, then how will they know how they can help you, or how you can help them?
Godin writes that when he asks people what their superpower is, many of them pick something that might be a power, but seems more average than super (e.g., I’m nice and follow directions).
Many people want their pretty safe skill to be enough – enough to make you paid fairly, enough to make your life stable, enough to make you valued.
But that pretty safe skill isn’t enough in such a connected and competitive marketplace: “The ‘super’ part and the ‘power’ part come not from something you’re born with but from something you choose to do and, more important, from something you choose to give.”