Stand Out

"In today’s competitive economy, it’s not enough to simply do your job well. Developing a reputation as an expert in your field attracts people who want to hire you, do business with you and your company, and spread your ideas. It’s the ultimate form of career insurance."

- Stand Out, page 2

Stand Out provides a framework that will give you career insurance and having insurance is not a bad idea at all, right?

This is a book that is gently pushing us out there and entices us to allow the thought leader within us emerge. It does so by providing us with very good insight to guide us as we move forward.

Obviously, author Dorie Clark is writing from experience. She did it. She has paved her own way to the top and she gives us quite a bit of information as to how that happened and what made her become a recognized thought leader—which she undeniably is!

But that’s not all. She also sought a lot of inspiration and information through a series of interviews she conducted with famous (Robert Cialini, Seth Godin, Tom Peters) and not so famous people who have all become thought leaders in their respective fields.

By deconstructing the process that some successful leaders took and using her own personal insight, Clark gives us great pointers on how to unleash the leader within. And what’s interesting in reading these stories is discovering how very practical and accessible these suggestions are.

The book is divided into three parts. Each section ends with a series ‘Ask Yourself’ questions which are available in a workbook format for download directly from her website.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Finding your Big Idea

"Big Ideas aren’t hatched by a rare breed of intellectuals living in isolation. Instead, they come from regular people who are willing to ask the right questions and stay open to new ways of looking at the world."
- Stand Out, page 17

A Big Idea is one that will get you recognized as a thought leader. It’s what makes us different from the others and allows us to become that go-to person, because of our expertise and our uniqueness.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were an easy way to find this Big Idea? Unfortunately, there isn’t, but it is possible to work through a process to get there. Dorie Clark is setting up the process for us by asking us to look at things differently. By relating how some very smart people did it (Robert Cialdini, for example), she asks us to become inspired by their way of thinking and to try to answer some of these questions ourselves:

  • Are you making the right assumptions?
  • What can you learn from your own experience?
  • How can you be different?
  • Can you imagine something and its opposite (aka Janusian thinking)?
  • Can we learn from other sectors?

Your head might be spinning with all these ‘ask yourself’ questions that she’s developed, but that’s part of the game of coming up with your own Big Idea.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

The art of staying on top of trends!

"One of the best ways to develop a reputation as an authority in your field is by staying on top of trends, informing others about them, and sharing your take on what they mean and how we should adapt."
- Stand Out, page 27

What if we were to ask people if they can anticipate what’s next in their area of work and what the trends are in their sector? I’m not sure many people could answer those questions with confidence.

‘What’s next!’ Nothing very earth shattering about this idea, but then again, it matters. By finding the answer to that very pertinent question (what’s next), you could become the go-to person as people prepare for changes. And changes, they are coming. You could be the one that will help them identify the steps they need to take.

This is sound advice. Keeping up with the trends has helped me continue in my quest to earn a living as a freelance consultant for close to 20 years now. If I hadn’t kept up with the trends, I would have missed out on so much interesting work and many opportunities.

In this day and age the web is so much part of our life and it impacts everything we do. As Clark states: “There’s a huge amount of fear and uncertainty about how to respond to our changing circumstances, so if you can provide others with sound, intelligent, actionable advice, your work will be noticed – and appreciated.” This is so true and truly resonates with me. This in and of itself is a key wake up call to see the opportunities that lie in being ahead of the game and being willing to share that knowledge. Staying on top of trends is definitely a winning strategy.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Developing your expert niche!

"Instead of developing a broad theory about how the world works or the direction of the future, you can become the go-to authority on a particular slice that has been overlooked, an area where your extensive knowledge, and ability to communicate, shines."
- Stand Out, page 33

Thought leadership is about ideas and making a contribution to the world by making them known. That doesn’t mean you have to have PhD. No, it is possible to become a leader by narrowing down your focus to some specific area in your field. That might seem limiting, but it’s not. Becoming known for a specific area can be a way for you to initially gain exposure but it might eventually also be a way for you to expand your niche. There is some truth to the halo effect: “because you’re already perceived as good at one thing – people generalize and think you’re brilliant overall.”

This is great advice, very much worth thinking about. It might very well be a way to start, to jump on the bandwagon of thought leadership.

Thought leadership is a concept that revolves around ideas, your ideas. It’s about “solving problems and making a difference that creates value for yourself and others”.

I’ve read the book twice. In all honesty, the first time, I read it too quickly. The second time around, I said to myself, Dorie Clark is really on to something here. She’s walking the talk. We are in an era where we have to be ready to fully take advantage of every situation. This is not a book about how to become famous. It’s more about making an impact and contribution. Dorie Clark is passionate about her message, and she wants us to follow our own passions. My next step now is to start answering the long list of ‘ask yourself’ questions… I think I’ll learn from this process of discovery. We live in a world that’s in constant change—why not be the guiding light!

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Micheline Bourque

ABOUT Micheline Bourque

In 2014, a light lit up when I realized that I could do something fun and interesting with my love of business books and learning. I created the Club de lecture Affaires...
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