I’ll Have What She’s Having.

follow the pathSxSW Interactive credits much of its explosive growth to Twitter. Twitter went live a few months prior to the event which proved to be a huge launchpad for the social network. This is one of many things I learned from Hugh Forrest, SxSW’s Interactive director in his keynote this weekend at Counselors Academy Spring Conference

So now, startups think the way to “make it big” is to launch at SxSW, as if there is a golden ticket: Get me on TechCrunch; get me on Oprah; get me into SxSW. If you’re in PR, you’ve heard that request more than a few times. We all want to follow the path of those who have succeeded before us.

I’ll Have What She’s Having

Ordering what Sally ordered at the restaurant doesn’t necessarily result in the same outcome.

Over and over again at Counselors Academy this week in Austin, I heard one theme in particular.

“This is what worked for me. It might not be the right way for you.”

We spend a lot of time studying what others have successfully done before us, and understandably, we want to follow in the same path.

Of course, we want to learn from the mistakes and successes of others. But, instead of being inspired, if we put too much weight on the actual tactics, a few funny things happen:

  1. We become copy cats.
  2. We start to covet and if I remember correctly, that’s a sin.
  3. We get caught up in “how it should be done” and “what we’re supposed to do.”

Five years ago, I showed up at Counselors Academy for the first time thinking I didn’t belong, and that people would all be wondering what the hell an independent consultant based in Sandpoint, Idaho was doing there in a group of agency CEOs and owners from major markets.

I was completely and utterly mistaken.

Sometimes you have an epiphany and it seems so Captain Obvious, it was right in front of your nose, you’re even afraid to share it as a blog post it’s so obvious but I’ll do it anyway: What separates the successful innovators from the mediocre? Those who kick butt don’t worry about how it’s supposed to be done; they do it the way they want to do it.

In the past year, I’ve shifted my mindset. I don’t worry about that extraneous crap anymore. It’s been incredibly liberating. And it’s working. I’ve never been happier in my life and it’s because I don’t worry about the “supposed to.”

I get asked by clients – Am I allowed to say this? Do this? <Insert role model name here> doesn’t do it like that.

To which I respond, “we get to set the rules.” No one said you have to do it one way or another. Let’s decide what we want to do.

If we focus too much attention on <insert role model here> we start to feel like maybe we are less successful, behind, too late, or not as cool. Whatever the case may be, it’s not a productive thought.

Here’s a productive thought: I can be that; I can do that; our business can achieve that but here is how I would do it.

Now that kind of a mindset is a stepping stone you can work from!

I’d love to hear what you think.

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  • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

    No “supposed to’s”… no “should’s”…no “experts” or “gurus”. I used to think that. I don’t now.

    I’ve been MIA online for over a month now, working with a restaurant client. At first, I felt guilty about not posting, not commenting, not being online. But with distance comes perspective. I’m with you: we set our own rules. And I’m not only OK with that: I’m good with that! Cheers! Kaarina

    • http://www.WaxingUnLyrical.com/ Shonali Burke

      Kaarina, it doesn’t feel like you’ve been MIA, I feel like I’ve seen you everywhere… or maybe your presence is so omnipotent, it feels like that! I know *I* have really been MIA, but I also know that that’s how and where (sic) I need to be right now.

      • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

        Shonali, I cannot tell you how much that means to me. I’ve felt like I disappeared: you’ve made me feel “whole”. Thanks so much. xo

        • http://bigleapcreative.com/ Lisa Gerber

          Wow, that must have killed your Klout score!! (sarcasm) – And I feel like you’ve been around as well, Kaarina. And most of all, we have to stop feeling guilty when we can’t do it all. :)

          • http://www.kaarinadillabough.com Kaarina Dillabough

            Hahahahaha…You know, it was tough to get back and see all the posts that look the same. That’s why I love posts and writing like yours and Shonali’s. More story-telling in style, and not just another post about 10 tips this and how to get more readers and changes in fb/google+/panda/penguin ad nauseum. Their information is good, but it just looks and sounds like so much white noise lately. I’m seeking out those writers whose words and works inspire, educate and entertain, and have (overused words here) an authentic voice…like yours:)

            It’s also kind of funny that I used my outside voice and said the word guilty, because guilt is something I rarely feel. It’s really a useless emotion. Perhaps it would have been more correct to say I felt “badly”, because I love to support my friends and colleagues, and want to be there for them. Not guilt, rather a desire to be of service and support.

            And hey!…I’ll trade you a Klout score for a penguinpandaSEOcommentsystemkeyword post haha!

  • ASwirlGirl

    Great post! This: “If we focus too much attention on we start to feel like maybe we are less successful, behind, too late, or not as cool. Whatever the case may be, it’s not a productive thought” really resonates with me. I’m finding out more and that going at my own pace and keeping my central mindset about the way things “should be done” is working just fine, thank you. This post just comes as additional confirmation. Thanks for writing it!

    • http://bigleapcreative.com/ Lisa Gerber

      Well thank YOU for stopping by.

  • Gaga’s Garden

    You offer a delightful reminder to be ourselves; nobody does it better.
    It’s the only thing that separates us from the pack. Isn’t it ironic we seek approval sometime to do just that? Thx for the reminder.
    Susan Fox

    • http://bigleapcreative.com/ Lisa Gerber

      Right? We talk about differentiation in marketing, and what do we do but focus on what everyone else is doing. That’s for stopping by and commenting, Gaga! :)

  • Brian D. Meeks

    This is a great mindset. I’ve recently begun crafting an adwords campaign to try to sell books. All the experts say it can’t be done, because clicks are too expensive and the conversion rates are too low.

    When I talked to the adwords guy and told him of my idea, which isn’t about targeting words like “book, mystery, reading”, but instead is about (????), he said it would definitely keep my cost per click really low. The idea was unlike anything he had ever heard of and he didn’t know anyone who had tried it.

    It may still fail. But, what if it doesn’t?

    The risk is low in terms of dollars. It is certainly no more risky than cutting back to two days per week at work, living below the poverty line, and devoting one’s entire life to creating books. If my theory is right, though, then I will have a huge competitive advantage over other authors.

    • http://bigleapcreative.com/ Lisa Gerber

      Brian, I love this. Seriously. I hope it goes well. Keep us posted!!!

  • geofflivingston

    This is the primary reason I loathe do what I do advice from bloggers. There is some truth to general principles, but overall? If you do everything they do, you become a copycat.