Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Purple Cows and Outliers

Are all these authors and bloggers that write about being innovative, and the how and why of certain people becoming sucessful all writing about the same thing? Do they all have the same ideas, but explain them in different ways?

Yes. But that's not a bad thing, and let me tell you why.

Not all people learn the same way. Some people are visual, some are aural, and some learn by doing...I could go on. In the same vein, not all people respond to advertising or marketing the same way. That's why there are so many companies that need to find more than one way to say what they mean - to attract as many people as possible.

The obvious example of people coming at the same idea from two completely different directions are ones that I referenced in the title of this entry. Seth Godin's Purple Cows, and Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. Seth uses the term purple cow to describe that one thing about an entity that makes it special. It can be almost anything, tangible or intangible. Malcolm uses the mathematical term outlier to put more of an analytic spin on the same idea, but by being a bit more specific. Seth relies on thought and creativity and using the mind to think for himself. Malcolm relies on mathematical calulation and statistical analysis from many different angles.

Yet, they're both coming to the same conclusion. What makes you stand out is not what makes you the same as everyone or everything else, it's what makes you different. That seems pretty obvious, but in reality finding what makes you different is very difficult, no matter which angle you come at it from. Why would you want to be the same as something else? Why not? If that something is successful, why not try to be as much like it as possible? That's now things work these days...find a similarity, use it, but exploit your differences, provided they're positive. If your differences aren't positive, find the similarity and fix it.

Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell set out to put to words the way that they do things. Did they intend to provide the same message in entirely different ways? Probably not, but as we all know, eventually, the quickest way between points is a straight line. There is no one way to accomplish something, but to be done correctly and successfully, there must be a legitimate base, and both gentlemen had the idea to write about their thoughts on what goes into making something unique. Both men have written on many topics, but intentional or not, they both wrote great explanations of the same topic, by coming at it from completely different directions.

Thanks for reading...

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