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Being Unique, Making Competition Irrelevant

Guest post by

Per Frykman

In a world where everything changes faster than ever before, it is always tempting to fight hard to maintain the status quo that feels safe. However, something has changed in terms of how business life is working today.

Guest articles ᛫ 2020.10.28

In a world where everything changes faster than ever before, it is always tempting to fight hard to maintain the status quo that feels safe. However, something has changed in terms of how business life is working today. We live in turbulent times, which means that it is time to get hold of the best tools available and start using them before your competitors do. I have had the opportunity to meet many consultants, entrepreneurs, and leaders who talk about rebooting themselves or their companies. They are looking for new ways to show their real value to attract new clients, talents, or investors. The paradox is that it is no longer about being the best; it is about being unique.

Aiming For Being The Best In Business Is Overrated 

Many are currently striving to be the best in their business field, but best compared to whom and what? It often ends up with a competition involving high marketing costs. Edward de Bono, the bestselling author of books about creativity and the inventor of lateral thinking, says that we should move beyond the baseline of competition. The choice of running your own race instead of running alongside others could give you a competitive edge over other businesses. This way of thinking goes both for companies and you, as consultants, entrepreneurs, or leaders.

INSEAD professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne share the same thoughts in their famous book about Blue Ocean Strategy. Blue oceans are where a market space is new and uncontested, and strategy centers around value innovation. On the other hand, red oceans are where competition is fierce. Their strategy centers around beating rivals, and wins are often zero-sum.

“Jack of all trades is the master of none.” It is a figure of speech that is more important than ever since it deals with the aspiration to be unique and experience the pleasure of becoming genuinely good in your area. It is about challenging mediocrity and focusing on one distinct field that you genuinely enjoy working in, have in-depth expertise, and in which you have the potential of becoming unique. It is where your talents, passion, and commitment to join forces to allow you to achieve something great. It is about leaving behind your desire to be the best and instead deciding to aim for mastery and being unique and compare yourself to no one.

In this new marketplace, you should take every opportunity to find and share the unique things about you and give you a competitive edge. More than ever, knowing your reputation is THE dividing-line since people will hire you or invest in you based on it. It has the potential of taking you to the next professional level.

Individual Reputation Will Be A Dominant Factor

Five years ago, I met with a global PR company who, in their annual report, predicted that personal reputation would become a dominant factor in the future. I would suggest that we are there now. Leading futurists such as Rachel Botsman talk about a new sharing economy built on reputation and trust. Impressive and hugely successful business leaders and investors like Richard Branson and Warren Buffett say that reputation was the most critical part of their business success.

Most people I have met over the last years agreed upon how important their reputation was to succeed. But it also became clear that they had a very blurry view of what their own reputation looked like or the vast possibilities that it could open up.

“There are many types of currency in Silicon Valley. Money, talent, and media attention all matter, but by far, the most valuable asset you can build is your reputation.”

These words were recently written in the Gigster Blog, owned by a company based in San Francisco. However, this is not only the case in Silicon Valley - it is the case everywhere. It is crucial for every company, it is crucial for you and me, and it is a real game-changer. Your reputation is the one thing that everything else in your professional life revolves around. It has the power to make you unique, taking you to a new professional level.

For the last ten years, my drive and commitment have been to find a tool and a complete approach to all the key factors that help you succeed when attracting clients, getting hired, in leadership, and in your professional development. Today, I am confident to suggest that the tool needed is the knowledge of your reputation. It gives you a thorough and trustworthy picture of how your level of expertise, unique qualities, soft skills, performance, and bugs are perceived. The benefits of expanding your reputation from this knowledge base are immense.

Artificial Intelligence will cause a massive change creating a new era in business and the job market. At the same time, your unique qualities (soft skills) are going to be more critical than ever. Leadership, creativity, curiosity, imagination, commitment, courage, passion, empathy, and entrepreneurship are just some of the areas where AI cannot compete. Knowing your reputation will always be the best and most reliable tool available to help you to discover those crucial skills and talents.

Making Competition Irrelevant Over Time

We attract clients or get hired based on our unique qualities and the expectations that our reputation sets. The paradox is that those are the same things that we have such a hard time describing reliably. The main reason for it is that we often have only a vague idea of what they are. The second issue is that we are humble. As for the first, you can act upon by getting to know your reputation. The latter is a great skill that you could grow even further, having your reputation as your greatest asset.

Of course, there are many factors with the potential of making you unique, and your reputation is the most interesting. My commitment is to make the Reputation Resumé the most crucial document in your professional life. It is a unique report highlighting how your professional stakeholders perceive your soft skills, level of expertise, experience, performance, and bugs. It indicates your full capacity and what can be expected of you to accomplish.

I meet many people with an inspiring past, but I think it is wise to start focusing on their future pitch. Expectations rule and are the things that make people take notice. You should use the knowledge and power of your reputation to your advantage since it will, over time, make competition irrelevant.

Don't Go Blindfolded Into The Future

If you are not fully aware of your reputation’s content - both your unique qualities and bugs - you are actually a bit blind-folded when traveling into your professional future. You will not be successful unless others are valuing you since they are the people that will hire you, promote you, applaud you, and spread your message. A majority of the critical business- or career decisions about you are made when you are not there; the "only" thing present is your reputation.

As a consultant, you are your reputation; it should be well known and your best friend. Your clients are primarily looking for three things. First, they are looking for a company that offers the best expertise, understands their problems and needs, sees a profitable solution, and clearly explains it. Secondly, they want the above to be confirmed by the expert's reputation. Without that confirmation, the expert will never fulfill the crucial third factor, which is building trust. Your credibility and reputation are what seals a deal.

Let's face it: successful companies and exciting jobs will no longer be filled with people sending in their traditional CVs. They will be filled with individuals with excellent reputations built on how they do things. Professional success is no longer about building a CV. It is about building your reputation, creating expectations, and building trust. It is about the quest for becoming unique. 

We need the time and courage to explore what might be seen as "crazy ideas" because just right before there is a breakthrough, it is only a "crazy idea." Many of them are the forerunners of success. The breakthrough of a lifetime can come from anywhere globally due to new ways of collaborating, technology, and the power of reputation.

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