- Michael Thompson
I was cleaning out my inbox and stumbled across an email I’m glad I didn’t delete.
It came courtesy of entrepreneur and ADHD expert Peter Shankman. And in the message, Peter shared how he’d recently been invited to join a tight-knit community.
Seems pretty harmless, right?
Maybe even kind.
But there was one glaring problem — the invitation was for an all-women’s group.
And Peter — as his name implies — is not a woman.
“Be brilliant at the basics.” he went on to add. “Get the little things right, and win at the big things. It’s that simple!”
I couldn’t agree more with this. Most people today prioritize speed. “Move fast!” they shout. “Break stuff!” But what’s the point in blasting broken stuff around the internet when a more effective — and easier —way is to slow down a notch and focus on trying to get it right the first time?
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been called Matt, Mark, and even Roger in emails from people asking for either my money or my time.
If you want to stand out, do the opposite of most people today and aim to be the best at the basics.
This is particularly true when your actions involve other people.
Building a reputation for not wasting other people’s time is a seriously underrated quality.
Taking the time to care is the first way. Here are five more ways — that when done consistently — will help you quietly win the right kind of attention in our loud world.
Stand up when others don’t
I started my career in mortgage sales. This was before the 2008 market meltdown. Dodgy products were rolled out every other week. But the absolute worst was “reverse mortgages” that had no business being created.
“I’m gonna make a killing!” a few people in the office shouted after realizing how much money this dangerous product could make them.
“It’s like elephant hunting with a bazooka!”
But one of the more reserved women in the office wasn’t having it. Without saying a word, she got up from her desk, walked into our manager’s office, and said, “This is criminal. If we’re offering this product, I’m out!”
The product was removed from our company’s offering.
I’ll never forget that — standing up when others didn’t instantly won the right people’s attention.
Get clear on what you aren’t willing to tolerate.
Speak up when others don’t.
As author Ryan Holiday once wrote, “We’re all screwed anyway, so we might as well do what’s right.”
Choose raw and real over packaged and polished
I grew up with a severe stutter. Today, I teach MBA students communication and leadership skills and help executives at places like Apple and IDEO to tell their stories without having an advanced degree or a formal background in writing.
The reason I got offered these opportunities is instead of pushing people into my offering, I pull them into my world by sharing weekly stories about what it feels like having a stutter working in sales, losing money, and being outsmarted by my wife and kids.
Not pretending to be anything other than a confused human, interestingly enough, entices people to contract me to help them make sense of their own lives.
This may seem backward, but it’s today’s environment of honesty being scarce that creates the market.
My first big consulting client contacted me because I shared a story about turning to drugs after getting my ass kicked in a real estate deal gone wrong. The reason? He too used to do more than dabble when stressed.
Share your story.
Destroy the need for external validation.
Let your weird self fly in all its quirky glory.
Sure, you may turn some people off — but assuming you leave your house, you’re going to do that anyway.
The people you do attract though — the ones that feel a connection towards you by you having the stones to be you — more than make up for it as trust is already there.
And trust is the foundation for everything good in the world.
Live to be stolen from
My friend Conor Neill runs a wildly popular Youtube channel on all things leadership and communication despite not doing anything wild in his videos at all.
The secret to his 291,000-person following?
The guy knows how to tell a story and he’s made a commitment to give his best ideas away for free.
“The fastest way to see your ideas become reality is by giving them to other people.” — Conor Neill
Steal a line from Conor and be persistently generous.
Give your best ideas away for free.
Playing a role in someone making something cool is the definition of cool.
If you do this enough, you’ll eventually create a unique machine where people give you things because you gave them things first.
Prioritize your “and”
Think about the people who keep you up at night. The qualities of those you admire. The creators you can’t get enough of and you’ll click on their name no matter the title.
What is it about these people?
What makes them both irresistible and irreplaceable over the long term?
If you dissect them, it’s rarely one trait, but a combination of qualities
In other words, staying power comes with an “and.”
Confidence on its own may get someone’s attention. But it’s not enough to keep it. In fact, an over-reliance on it can negate its power as you’ll be seen as a one-trick pony.
But someone whose confident “and” empathetic is hard to resist.
The same goes for bold “and” thoughtful.
Or ambitious “and” not taking yourself too seriously.
This isn’t meant to downplay your leading strength. It’s about developing qualities that contrast each other to ultimately, complement each other as that’s how interesting is made.
List your leading quality and then look at other softer qualities you exhibit and focus on strengthening just one of them.
My wife is proud of me for going after my goals.
She likes that I moved to a new country on my own and I teach communication despite having a stutter.
But any achievement I reach doesn’t compare to the look she gives me when I’m helping one of my kids, or better yet, one of their friends.
Unexpected raises eyebrows.
Interesting combinations get remembered.
Train yourself to look where others don’t
One day, a little mouse made its way into a classroom full of young kids.
As you may imagine, the students went bananas. Some jumped on their chairs. Others threw their books. Most, scared out of their pants, didn’t move as they sat there paralyzed by the ferocious beast.
To make matters worse, no matter what the teacher did, she couldn’t catch it which only added to the hysterics.
But then, she had an idea — an idea that would send a little shy boy to the moon.
“Stevie Morris,” she said, “Do me a favor and lend me a hand.”
“What’s Stevie going to do?” the jocks in the class shoot back. “He’s blind!”
“I know that,” the teacher said, “But he’s got one thing you don’t — a wonderful pair of ears.”
Moments later, to everyone’s surprise, Little Stevie located the mouse and for the first time in his life, he experienced what it felt like to be a classroom hero.
Not only that, but it was also the first time Little Stevie recognized his “perceived” weakness could be hiding a massive strength.
Years later, in an interview, Little Stevie recounted this story before pointing to his teacher for helping him live life on the offensive.
Maybe you don’t recognize the name, Stevie Morris.
But I’d be willing to bet you recognize his stage name —Mr. Stevie Wonder.
Share their potential, promise, and gifts with the world.
It’s the oldest trick in the book.
But if you do it consistently, when it comes to standing out, it’s just as effective as hunting elephants with a bazooka.
Thanks for reading and my best to you and yours,