It was way back then, before we transformed.
Before we asked ourselves how to stand out.
The consultancy I co-created had been in business a little under three years. We sought feedback from the big-company client we had just completed with.
He told us, smiling and nodding, that yes he was pleased and that we were totally professional. That we’d given his company a very solid performance. That our skills as consultants were considerably competent.
Afterwards, I was depressed. Then devastated. Then demolished.
Everything is relative. Being viewed as profoundly decent is extremely bad news when you’ve actually set out to be crackerjack.
It means you’ve been blind. Unaware. Deluded.
We had been outstandingly average!
If you too wish to be remarkably standard then here are a few basic guidelines to move you in the right direction:
1. Don’t ever confront yourself with the possibility that you may be performing just satisfactorily.
2. Think of yourself as the model, qualified, professional.
3. Comfortably fit-in with the mainstream of your profession.
4. To your potential clients, look and sound impressively like your main competitors.
5. Smartly jump through all the hoops, and tick all the boxes, the Authorities have set up for your profession.
6. Strive to be anointed as a highly qualified professional by the High Priests of the Authorities.
7. Don’t keynote speak or blog contrarian points of view.
8. In fact, blog only sporadically; better still, don’t start posting with any real seriousness in the first place.
9. Attend several professional trainings over several years, but…
10. Don’t read or attend much on how to seriously, and powerfully, market yourself.
11. Occasionally do a little, half-hearted, marketing then stop (as it never seems to work anyway).
12. Don’t ever stand yourself out, on-the-line.
13. Deliver for your clients dependable results that are predictable for your profession.
14. Don’t ever contradict anybody in your market with an alternative worldview.
15. Dream of one day writing the definitive book about your profession.
16. Work long, hard, hours but be unproductive in many of them.
17. Work long, hard, hours and pretend to others you’re not being unproductive.
18. Don’t create a distinct and powerful story about your service purpose.
19. Never sharply define your market and stand four-square in the middle of it looking attractive.
20. Draft a partly-done, fuzzy, value proposition for where you have the edge over your competitors.
21. Only ever tell anyone about it, if specifically asked.
22. Charge approximately the standard price for your professional services.
23. Create just enough business to keep yourself in just enough business.
24. Avoid becoming highly specialised, and on no account become exceptional at a few things of deep value.
25. Partly believe in yourself.
If you are already carrying out much of this then please give yourself a big slap on the back. Then a big slap on the forehead.
In the distant past we could get away with being average. In the bell-curve distribution of performance, many occupied the middle ground. The competitive market place had enough space in it to do so.
Nowadays it’s different. Very different. Not only is it hyper-competitive out there, yet more competition arrives every day.
So it’s not good news and the average may want to take a very well-earned holiday. Then book themselves onto the Titanic, make themselves comfortable, and begin re-arranging the deck-chairs.
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