How to Create a Unique Niche

“When you’re one-of-a-kind, you have no competition.” – Sam Horn, author of POP! and Got Your Attention?
create a unique niche

Do you wish you could:

* figure out what makes you original?

* clarify the secret sauce that makes you different?

* create a competitive edge that motivates decision-makers to pick you?

The good news is, you CAN do all the above. The secret is to create a unique and needed niche that gets you noticed by ideal clients.

Are you thinking, “I know I need to do that; I just don’t know how to do that?”

Join the club. In my 20 years of being a business/branding consultant; I’ve seen many entrepreneurs fail because they couldn’t figure out how they were special.

They weren’t able to differentiate themselves from others in their industry. They never created a winning competitive edge that helped them stand out and succeed.

So, I developed a step-by-step system to help my clients break out instead of blend in.

One of the steps in my system helps you identify what you’re bringing to the table that is special, that people value and are willing to pay for.

In other words, what are you good at? What do you do well that people want and need that they’ll hire you to do for them or teach to them?

Here’s a condensed version of my 4A Process for clarifying the strategic “secret sauce” that makes you special.

Sam Horn’s 4 A Approach to Creating a Unique and Needed Niche

Ask yourself the following questions to start clarifying what you know that other people want to know or want to have done for them.

ACHIEVEMENT: What have you achieved – that other people would like to achieve?

* Did you put yourself through college, build a house from scratch, get your pilot’s license, teach yourself to design websites that make money, retire at 40, launch a successful Kickstarter campaign?

* What did you accomplish that took discipline and perseverance – and other people could benefit from your lessons-learned on how to “stay the course”?

* What skill have you acquired you could reverse-engineer into a step-by-step methodology that will expedite people’s ability to do this fr themselves?

ADVERSITY: What challenges have you overcome – that other people would like to overcome?

· Did you deal with breast cancer, get down-sized, rebound from a difficult divorce, lose all your money in a financial scandal?

· What did you survive – that you could show other people how to survive?

· What did you learn “the hard way” and you want to prevent/minimize that pain for others and give them support so they don’t have to go it alone?

AVOCATION: What is a hobby you’re good at – that other people would like to be good at?

· Do you love to play piano, garden and grow your own vegetables, ride horses, play with smart phone photography – and you could turn that into a metaphor that gives you a fresh approach to a familiar topic?

· What do you do for fun – adventure travel, museum docent, astronomy clubs –that you could share with others who want more fun in their life?

· What do you do that lights you up – and you could integrate it into your job so you’re integrating your passion/profession instead of seeing them as separate?

ATTITUDE: What is a philosophy you have – that others would find relevant, inspiring, beneficial?

· What is an epiphany you’ve had – that could save others trial-and-terror learning?

· What is a favorite motto that keeps you motivated – that others might find helpful?

· What is a contrarian, provocative insight you have– that could open people’s eyes to an outdated/dangerous belief and lead to a transformational aha?

These questions have helped many of my clients leverage their lessons-learned into a successful business and earn a good living doing work they love that matters.

Want a few quick examples of how my clients have used these techniques to leverage their A’s into successful businesses?

Achievement:

Client David Glover is a Naval Academy grad, cancer survivor and world-class Ironman triathlete. However, he’s so much more than that. Check out his website to discover how he’s been able to leverage his A’s into a soul-satisfying business where he’s getting paid to speak, write, coach and direct running races around the country.

Adversity: Christina Grimm grew up in sunny California, playing competitive travel softball from age ten. You can imagine how thrilled she was to receive an athletic/academic scholarship to a Division I school. Unfortunately, their hypercritical coach only focused on what Christina did wrong, never on what she did right. The coach ruined her self-esteem and enjoyment of the game. She ended up leaving after one year, vowing never to play softball again.

Christina is pro-active though and decided that, instead of letting that toxic experience defeat her; she would turn it into a career and mission helping others who were being mistreated. She went back to college and got her PsyD. Her thesis? “The Effect of Coaching on the Self-Esteem of Teen-Aged Girls.” She is now a certified Tongue Fu! – Never Be Bullied Again instructor and offers programs on how to confidently speak up and take responsibility for being treated with the respect you want, need and deserve.

Avocation: A financial adviser wanted to know how she could possibly differentiate herself in that crowded industry. She had impressive credentials as she was frequently featured in the media as a result of her high-profile role for a nationally-known company, but she still needed a competitive edge for her work to stand out in the glut of “instant experts.”

I asked, “What do you do when you’re not working?”

Jan told me, “I play golf.”

I said with a smile, “We’re in business. Why not use smart golf as a metaphor for being a smart investor? You could call your book ‘Go for the Green.’ Talk yourself through a round of golf using each step of the process as an analogy. Your tips on how to make/save par can be used as a parallel for how to make/save money.”

This was strategic positioning as Jan’s target clients were executives and entrepreneurs, many of whom play golf. This was something they valued and wanted to get better at, which increased the likelihood of her being asked to speak at corporate events and association conventions, which often host golf tournaments before their meetings.

Attitude: Julie Jansen, a career coach, wanted a breakout book in her genre but told me, “Sam, all the great titles – like ‘Take This Job and Love It’ – are taken.”

I asked her a series of questions including, “What attitude do your clients have? What is something that frustrates them? What is something you hear, over and over again, when they come into your office?”

She thought about it for a moment, laughed and said, “You know what they all say? ‘I Don’t Know What I Want; But I Know It’s Not This.’”

I told Julie, “THAT’s the title of your book! People will look at it and think, ‘That’s EXACTLY how I feel! People buy books that resonate with them, and that title will resonate with potential readers because it articulates a problem they have they want solved.” Julie’s book has become an evergreen classic because it expresses an attitude and frustration many people in her target market feel.

So, how about you? Are you in a crowded industry? Are you having a hard time standing out? Are you not getting the clients you deserve?

Use this 4A Process to identify what you have to offer that can be turned into a legacy message and unique niche that helps you pop out of your pack. Your “A’s” are a goldmine waiting to be leveraged into a one-of-a-kind competitive edge that helps you stand out from your crowd vs. get lost in your crowd.

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Want more ways to create a unique niche that gives you a one-of-a-kind competitive edge? You’ll find them in POP! (which Ken Blanchard says is “an inspiring guide to getting heard, getting remembered, getting results.”) and Got Your Attention? ( presented to NASA, National Geographic, Accenture, ASAE and Ernst Young). Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to inquire about Sam’s consulting services and to arrange for her to share her inspiring, results-producing insights at your next conference.

Want to Give an Original TED or TEDx Talk?

What’s your idea worth spreading? Do you have a story to tell that would add value for others? Do you have expertise to share that will improve people’s lives? Have you made a discovery that could help others?

I’ve had the privilege of coaching dozens of clients on their TED and TEDx talks. One found me after reading the article below, which was originally featured in Fast Company. Paige told me, “What really resonated with me is how important it is for this message to be congruent with my voice, vision and values. Crafting a quality talk is a front-loaded project, but I’m confident it will pay off to design and deliver a talk that fulfills these 7 C’s.”

She’s right. Well-crafted presentations have the power to change lives – including yours – for good. Hope the insights and examples in this article help you design and deliver presentations, proposals and pitches (they don’t have to be TED or TEDx talks) that achieve your desired results and scale your impact.

Here’s that article:

original-talk

It’s been said there are no original ideas. But what may seem like old hat to you could become the next compelling TED talk.

You can transform your presentations by mining your expertise, experience, and epiphanies. Start by writing down things about your work; your best practices, non-negotiables, and the things you’d like to pass on that you think would open people’s minds and get them talking.

Next, take those ideas and run them through my “Seven Cs of Original Messaging.” These criteria can be used both as a guide and a litmus test to come up with a big idea that pops you out of the pack.

1. CLEAR

A Hollywood producer once told me that directors can predict when their movies will make money. How? Simple. Do people walk out of the theater repeating something they heard word for word? If so, they become word-of-mouth advertisers. When people ask, “Seen any good movies lately?” they’re talking about your movie and marketing it to profitability.

The same applies to your TED talk. Can listeners repeat your big idea word for word? If they can, they’ll become your advocates. If they can’t, your big idea will be in one ear, out the other.

Neil Gaiman’s 2012 commencement speech for Philadelphia’s University for the Arts shows the payoff of distilling your big idea into a crystal-clear sound bite. “Make Good Art” resonated so powerfully with the initial audience of hundreds, the video went viral within days and was turned into a best-selling book.

2. COMPELLING.

You’ve got 60 seconds to capture an audience’s attention or else they’ll start checking email.

No perfunctory opening. No, “I’m glad to be here today and want to thank the organizer for inviting me.” That’s predictable, and predictable is boring. Pleasantly surprise everyone by jumping right into your origin story or into a compelling, counter-intuitive insight that flies in the face of current beliefs.

Test your premise beforehand with colleagues. If they say, “I already know that,” it’s back to the drawing board. Or, as comedian George Carlin said, “What did we go back to before there were drawing boards?” Keep tweaking your idea until people’s eyebrows go up (a sure sign of curiosity) and they say, “Hmmm. That’s interesting. Tell me more.”

3. CURRENT

The keynote speaker at a recent conference used the often-referenced “Pygmalion in the Classroom” study of how teachers’ expectations affect student performance as the basis for her presentation. Really?! That study was done in 1989! She couldn’t find any current studies to make her case? Referencing such an outdated source undermined her credibility.

Recency = relevancy. What just-released report can you reference to prove your point? Recent research will get their attention, and respect.

4. CONGRUENT

After you’ve come up with a big idea, run it by your gut. Ask yourself, “Is this congruent with my voice, my vision, my values? If someone suggests a topic, but it doesn’t feel right, it’s wrong for you. A TED talk is your point of view, not someone else’s. What do you passionately believe? What is a heartfelt legacy message that sums up what you’ve learned from life?

An executive called me a week before his program and said, “I hope you can help. I’ve been traveling almost nonstop, so I asked our company speechwriter to help prepare my talk. It’s well-done, it just doesn’t sound like me.”

I told him, “You’re right. A TED talk has got to be your voice. Get a recorder and ask someone to take notes while you read the script. Every time you read something and think, ‘I would never say it that way,’ say out loud how you would say it. Don’t censure or second-guess yourself, don’t try to be eloquent, and don’t overthink it. Just keep moving forward, rewording it into your natural voice. Ask your assistant to integrate your phrasing into a new version and then read it out loud again until you wouldn’t change a word. Now, it’s your talk.”

5. COMMERCIALLY VIABLE

The purpose of a TED talk is not to sell your products or services, and it shouldn’t be your priority. The fact is, though, an excellent talk will scale your visibility, viability and drive business to and for you.

Witness what’s happened to Brené Brown. Brené was a professor when she spoke for TEDx-Houston. She was popular at her university, but hardly a household name. Her talk on vulnerability was so evocative, it was quickly uploaded to the TED.com site and has since received 27 million views. Her resulting Oprah appearances made her an international fan favorite, generating lucrative book deals and five-figure keynotes.

6. CONSISTENT

It’s important for your TED talk to be consistent with your brand positioning and primary focus. Ask yourself, “What do I want my next one to three years of my life to look like?”

For example, a colleague was asked to give a TEDx talk about bullying since she’d had a horrific experience being bullied at work. She feels strongly about this issue, and has a lot to say about the importance of speaking up instead of waiting for HR to rescue you (not going to happen). But she is a management consultant. She doesn’t want to keep reliving that negative experience by speaking, consulting, and doing media interviews on it. It wouldn’t serve her goals to drive demand that’s inconsistent with her priorities and the quality of life she seeks. It’s smarter to select an idea that’s in alignment with what she wants to accomplish the next few years.

7. COMPETITIVE EDGE

I had an opportunity to hear the Physics Nobel Laureate Dr. John Mather speak recently. Following his talk, I asked him, “What’s your next “big idea?” He said, “I’ve got one, but I’m researching to see if anyone else has gotten there first.”

Exactly. Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead said, “It’s not enough to be the best at what you do; you must be perceived to be the only one who does what you do.” Once you have a clear, compelling, current, consistent, congruent, commercially viable idea, Google it to see if anyone else has gotten there first. If they have, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon the idea; it just means you should design a provocative premise around it that hasn’t been shared before.

For example, watch Sir Ken Robinson, the most-watched TED talk of all time., with more than 42 million views worldwide. Certainly, other experts have talked about the need for creativity in our schools, but no one does it quite like Ken.

Does your big idea meet all seven C criteria of Original Messaging? If so, great. If not, invest the effort to craft an original idea worth repeating. Your audience, career, and legacy will thank you.

Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the Intrigue Agency, coaches clients on how to design and deliver compelling presentations, pitches, and proposals that get results and add value for all involved. Her work – including her TEDx talk on INTRIGUE and her books POP!, IDEApreneur, Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, Inc and Readers Digest and presented to Boeing, Intel, Cisco, NASA, National Geographic. Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to ask how Sam can help you create/polish a one-of-a-kind presentation that positions you as a thought-leader in your industry.

What’s Your Review-Preview? Are You “Piloting” Your Time?

Michael Altshuler says, “The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you’re the pilot.”

Yet many of us DON’T feel like we’re the pilot of our time. Months (years) blend and blur into each other. Time races by and many of us feel we’ll never get caught up.

This is an antidote to this. One way to “get caught up” is to reflect on all the good ways our time has been spent this past year – to identify and honor the people, places and experiences that have been a good use of our time. national-press-club-group-picture-12-10-2010-2

These questions can help you do that. I’ve used variations of them at Review-Preview gatherings with friends and family and at National Press Club salons.

Taking the time to answer these questions an excellent way to “connect and reflect” and honor who and what has impacted you this past year – and why. Then turn your attention to the new year and clarify what your’re looking forward to – what you can do, see, think and feel to “pilot” this upcoming year so it will be TIME WELL SPENT.

At the end of his life, when finishing his book The Last Lecture (which was his “message in a bottle” of life-lessons he wanted to pass on to his kids), Randy asked himself what he knew for sure and it was this:

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt; just how we play the hand. Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.”

You might want to print these questions and share them over a meal with friends or family or at an upcoming staff meeting with employees. They can lead to a meaningful discussion about what really matters, which in itself it time well spent.

P.S. I’ve included my abbreviated answers to these questions at the end to kick-start this process. Enjoy, and happy, healthy holidays to you and your loved ones.
Review of the past year:

1. What is a favorite place I discovered, explored or spent time in?
2. Who is someone who really impacted me? How so?
3. How did I change? What new beliefs and behaviors did I adopt?
4. What’s a meaningful achievement I’m proud of?
5. What happened that was unexpected or surprising? How did it affect me?
6. What will I remember about my health from this year and why?
7. What was my biggest challenge – lesson learned the hard way?
8. What did I NOT find time for?
9. What is the best book I read or movie/TV program I saw?
10. What experience and/or person am I most grateful for? Why?

PLEASE NOTE: When previewing the coming year, you might want to state your intentions in the PRESENT OR PAST TENSE as opposed to the FUTURE tense. Why? Our subconscious believes what we tell it. Saying “I’m going to meet … “ or “I will achieve …” comes across as wishful thinking. Saying, “I loved meeting … “ or “It was so satisfying achieving that …” is perceived as a statement of truth. It helps turns our hopes into a “done deal.” This is a way to practice ADVANCE GRATITUDE. By focusing on what we would love to happen in the new year, we facilitate that happening. Envisioning a life, business and career we love helps to create it.

time-flies-gold

Preview of the coming year so you can “pilot” your time and ensure it is spent on the “right things.”

1. A particularly satisfying achievement this past year was …
2. A new place I thoroughly enjoyed discovering/exploring was …
3. I am so glad I got to meet and spend time with .. S/he really impacted me because …
4. I loved acquiring this skill and/or getting back into this hobby because …
5. I am grateful for doing this spiritual practice …. It made every day more …
6. I will always be glad I took better care of my body/health by …
7. I finally made time for …
8. One way I contributed and gave back was to …
9. Something that really added joy and/or FUN to my life was ….
10. One of the most important ways I changed was to …

Sam Horn’s abbreviated responses to the Review of 2016. Charles Bukowski said, “Time races by like wild horses over the hills.” Taking the time to answer these questions can help you “pilot” your time so you’re making the most of it in the new year.

time-races-by-like-wild-horses-over-the-hills

1. What is a favorite place I discovered, explored or spent time in?
(Sam – swimming with Zach the Dolphin at Marineland in Florida.)

2. Who is someone who really impacted me? How so?
(Sam – Mary Loverde for teaching me to abandon absolutes and that receiving, receiving, receiving is as important as giving, giving, giving.)

3. How did I change?
(Sam – I actually started eating vegetables – can you say kale and spinach?! – in greenies and liked them! Thank you Wildfit!)

4. What was a meaningful achievement (or skill acquired, dream goal realized) I’m proud of?
(Sam – Attended a workshop with Charles Needles and Dewitt Jones in Monet’s Garden in France – and learned to use my iphone camera to produce quote-images I post on Instagram. It’s fun, purposeful and a source of instant creative gratification.)

5. What happened that was unexpected? How did it affect me?
(Sam – Almost passed up an opportunity to speak in China because of unexpected doubts. What was unexpected was it was unlike me to “play it safe.” I re-committed to being adventurous and bold instead of being cautious and wary.)

6. What will I remember about my health – and why?
(Sam – I cracked my ribs and lost my freedom of movement for a few months. Made me re-appreciate what a gift it is to be healthy and to have complete mobility and no pain.)

7. What was my biggest challenge?
(Sam – My biggest challenge on my Year by the Water was learning to see my calendar as having OPEN days vs. EMPTY days so I didn’t revert to a decades-old habit of saying yes and filling my days with commitments.)

8. What did I NOT find time for?
(Sam – Hudson Valley, Walden Pond and the lake where Helen Keller said her first word, “Water,” which is why my Year by the Water is SO not over. )

9. What is the best book I read?
(Sam – Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. Proves that “literary” books about the human condition can be kind, insightful and a page-turning read.

10. What experience and/or person am I most grateful for? Why?
(Sam, my sister Cher who runs my business and who I trust implicitly. My sons Tom and Andrew, their wives Patty, Miki, and grandson Mateo for gifting me with a family I love. My friends who bless me with their generosity and positive spirit. My most important lesson-learned? Connection is the current that runs through my life. It my Holy Grail. You are all with me, wherever I am, and I am grateful. )

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Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert, TEDx speaker, author of POP!, Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? is on a mission to help people create one-of-a-kind projects that add value for all involved and has worked with Boeing, NASA, Cisco, Intel and National Geographic.

POP Your Pitch!

As the author of POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything (which Seth Godin calls “Revolutionary” and Ken Blanchard says is a “lively guide to getting results”), I’m often asked to coach funding pitches.

I had the pleasure of delivering the luncheon keynote for the Ignite Clean Energy Summit in Boston for the MIT Center for Enterprise awhile back.

Following my presentation, I conducted on-the-spot coaching of the national semi-finalists who were all developing “green” businesses.

Based on feedback from the group, the following POP! Your Pitch tips were particularly helpful in helping them create winning pitches they presented to potential investors the following day.

These tips work whether you’re delivering a pitch, making a sales presentation or speaking at a conference. Use this checklist to prep so you capture and keep everyone’s favorable interest of listeners and win the funding you deserve.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #1:

Say something surprising in the first 60 seconds that gets peoples’ eyebrows up.  Three“Did you know?” questions that introduce startling statistics or recent research is a great way to turn a monolog into a dialogue and motivate people to look up from their devices and decide you’re worth listening to.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #2.

The purpose of a venture capital pitch is NOT to get funding; it’s to get a follow-up meeting.  It’s idealistic to think an investor is going to give you millions after a ten-minute pitch. It’s realistic to sufficiently intrigue and impress decision-makers in ten minutes so they’re compelled to find out more.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #3.

Turn audience members into word-of-mouth advertisers by crafting a “money phrase” people can repeat, word for word, after hearing it once. If they can’t repeat it, they can’t remember it. Craft an AIR-tight sound bite by using Alliteration, Iambic Meter, and Rhyme.  For example, “Click it or ticket” is better than “Buckle Up for Safety.”   I helped an Ignite Clean Energy team come up with “Any plug, anytime, anywhere” as a tagline for their electric car.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #4.

Insert a one-minute success story about how clients have benefited from your company so decision-makers have context (not just content) and connect with you on an emotional and logical level.  As the former Pitch Coach for Springboard Enterprises (which has helped women entrepreneurs receive $6.6 billion (yes, that’s a “b”) in venture capital, I helped Lauren Williams of Movie Hatch craft a success story about a client who went from having his film collecting dust on a closet shelf to winning the Jackson Hole film festival in less than 4 months.  Her 60-second example provided compelling proof of concept.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #5.

Your confidence and leadership capacity is indicated by the authority and volume of your voice. If people can’t hear you, they won’t respect you. They conclude you don’t have the command and clout to carry off your venture.  I once saw a CEO of a Fortune 100 company lose a corporate audience at a national convention in the first sixty seconds because she had a little-girl voice that ended with an upward inflection that made her seem tentative and hesitant.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #6.

Your business name is a deal-maker or deal-breaker. Do people “get” your business name the first time you say it? If they don’t understand it, they can’t relate to it and they won’t want it. Zappos, Google, and Yahoo are all fun to say. Arxcis, GPM Technologies, Sempran and other difficult-to-pronounce-or-understand names make people go “huh?”  Remember, confused people don’t say YES. You’ve spend months (years?) developing your idea and organization. Invest in its success by giving it a meaningful, strategic, easy-to-remember name people relate to and repeat.  (My  can help you do this.)

POP! Your Pitch Tip #7.

PROPS! When you show or demonstrate your product, people SEE what you’re SAYING.  Show and tell is more convincing than tell, tell, tell.  I coached Kathleen Callendar of PharmaJet on how to make her elevator speech crystal clear., Instead of describing her “biodegradable medical delivery device for subcutaneous inoculations” she said, “Did you know 1.8 billion injections are given every year?  Did you know up to half are given with unsafe needles?  Did you know we’re spreading the very diseases we’re trying to prevent?.” She then held up a baggie with a “used needle” and contrasted it with her 100% safe, one-use needle. Her visual proof provided memorable, deal-closing evidence.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #8.

Tower, don’t cower. Your leadership is perceived by your posture. A fig-leaf position means you have something to hide. Slouched shoulders and a tucked-down head are signs of insecurity. I coach clients to see speaking as a sport. Adopt an athletic “ready” stance (feet a foot or more apart, not together) with your knees slightly bent so you’re grounded yet able to move naturally. Hold your head high and your hands 6-12 inches apart, like you’re holding a basketball. Don’t grip the lectern or clasp your hands together (both connote nervousness). Look everyone “in the eye” so they feel connected to you.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #9.

The two most powerful words in a pitch? “For example.” Back up each claim with a real-life example with quantifiable metrics and measurable evidence (i.e., 30% increase in sales, 20% reduction in turnover, took company public with a $10 million profit, grew an organization to 300 employees) so investors know you’ve delivered bottom-line results before and can be trusted to do so again. Put us in the scene and re-enact the example with “He said, I said” dialogue so it comes alive and people feel they’re in the room as if it’s happening right now.

POP! Your Pitch Tip #10.

Don’t just ask for the sale – plant-specific action seeds by offering three follow-up options including where you can be found immediately afterward. Always repeat your name to imprint it. If you don’t, you’ll be out of sight, out of mind. For example, “I’m Chris, in the green jacket, with CleanerGreenerNow. I’ll be (point) in the lobby at our next break. If you’d like a product sample, a copy of our financial projections, or to talk with our COO about how we’re going to scale this in the next six months, please come and talk with us.  I look forward to your questions and to seeing you in the lobby at 2:30.”

Want to see a couple of these ideas in action? Check out my TEDx talk which demonstrates how to open a pitch – or ANY presentation – with the “Did You Know?” sequence so you engage your audience in the first sixty seconds.

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Sam Horn – CEO of the Intrigue Agencyauthor of POP!  IDEApreneur  andWashington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – helps people create one-of-a-kind projects that scale their influence – for good.  Her work has been featured in New York Times, Forbes and on NPR.  Her highly interactive, inspiring presentations receive raves from such clients as NASA, Accenture, National Geographic, Cisco, and Capital One. Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency to arrange for Sam to speak to your group or to inquire about consulting/coaching.

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POP! Out of Your Crowd by Being One-of-a-Kind

FlowerSam“You gotta be original.  If you’re not, what do they need you for?” – actress Bernadette Peters.

Do you think everything’s been said and done?

Do you think there’s nothing new under the sun?

Au contraire.

There ARE original ideas, first-of-their-kind brands and businesses, and individuals who stand out from their crowd.

In fact, your success depends on your ability to say, do and offer something people haven’t heard or seen before, something that motivates them to say “Tell me more.”

Are you thinking, “Easier said than done?”

Agreed. That’s why I introduce step-by-step processes in my POP! and Got Your Attention? books that show you EXACTLY HOW to create new ideas, original approaches, and innovative messages that give you a competitive edge.

Think about it. Whatever you do, you’re probably one-of-many. One of many consultants.  One of many companies.  One of many job-seekers.

You don’t want to be one-of-a-many. You want to be one-of-a-kind.

When you’re one-of-a-kind, you have no competition

Are you thinking, “Okay Sam, I agree with this, but how can I create an original approach or innovative brand name?”

Here’s just one of the replicable POP! processes you can use to create something that’s new, something that helps you break out instead of blend in. It’s called the Half and Half Technique.

Here’s an example of someone who coined a Half and Half Brand Name and then I’ll show how you can do it too.

Dr. Francine Kaufman was concerned about the numbers of children coming into L.A.’s Children’s Hospital with Type 2 Diabetes.

She said, “A decade ago, this would have been so rare, it would have been written up in a medical journal. Now, such children fill my medical clinic.”

She wanted to do something about this, yet there were many doctors and nutritionists addressing this issue. She would have blended in.

And when you care about something and want other people to care about it too; you don’t want to blend in, you want to break out.

So, what did Dr. Francine Kaufman do? She coined a Half-and-Half word by combining the words diabetes and obesity into … DIABESITY.

Boom. Not only did her original word get attention for this important issue – it helped her become the go-to-media resource, author and expert on this topic. She scaled her influence and income by coming up with an innovative name.

A fast food restaurant that specializes in hot dogs and beer came up with a fantastic Half and Half Name… Frank ‘n Stein.   An Italian-Chinese restaurant calls itself Ciao Mein. An Indian-Hawaiian café’ named itself Taj Mahalo.

My son Tom loved a class at Virginia Tech where Professor Cole introduced students to the joys of Wagner, Verdi and Puccini. He called it Operatunity.

You may be thinking, “Okay, those are clever names. Big whoop. But I don’t want to be ‘cutesy.’ How can this help grow my business bottom line?”

Good question. Here’s the backstory of how an entire industry was transformed because a shop owner came up with a new, original way to “do business.”

About a decade ago, the scuba industry had a serious problem.  Fewer and fewer people were going scuba diving. Many dive shop operators were on the verge of bankruptcy.  So, how did they solve this problem?

Well, let’s use the 6 P’s of Disruption (featured in Got Your Attention?) to show how to attract new customers and generate new revenue with a fresh approach and positioning that gives you a competitive edge, all at the same time.

P – Purpose: What was the Purpose of these scuba operators? They wanted to get new customers and more customers so they wouldn’t go bankrupt.

P – Person: Who is the person who has the power to buy or try what you’re offering? Here’s where it gets interesting. 20 years ago, who made the decision about how families  spent their time in Hawaii? Probably Mom or Dad. Ten years ago, it changed.

Guess who now makes the decision about how families spend their time in Hawaii? THE KIDS. Uh-oh. Kids can’t go scuba diving. No wonder the industry was struggling. The person who had the power to try and buy what they were selling … couldn’t.

P – Problem: Okay, put yourself in the mental shoes of the person who has the power to buy what you’ve got. Let’s call this person Andy. Ask Andy, “What Problems do you have with my product or service?”  Andy would answer, “Well, I can’t go scuba diving because I can’t afford it. And I can’t get certified. And I’m scared to go down 100 feet. What if I drown? What if I can’t equalize my ears? And I can’t carry those heavy oxygen tanks on my back.”

All those problems are barriers to entry. And the more barriers to entry your business has, the more likely it is to go bankrupt.

P – Premise: Your Premise is, “Why does it have to be that way? What if there was a better way, safer way, less expensive way, more appealing way,  easier, less risky way? What if I could make those problems go away?”

P – Process/Approach: In answering those questions, you often come up with an original Process/Approach (or program/product) that  eliminates the problems that were keeping people from trying and buying what you’re offering.

For example, Andy might say, “What if I didn’t have to carry those heavy oxygen tanks on my back? What if I could just leave them on the boat? Then, you could just run a long air hose from the oxygen tank to my snorkel mask. And then I wouldn’t have to go down 100 feet. I wouldn’t have to worry about drowning or equalizing my ears. I could go down ten feet and have fun swimming with the humuhumunukunukuapaaa’. Plus, I wouldn’t have to get certified. So I could afford it. And my whole family could go.  This would be a whole  NEW way to enjoy the ocean without all the problems of scuba. I would happily do it then.”

P – Pop:   If you want your new entity to break out vs. blend in out, you’ll want to give it a new name.  Use my Half and Half Technique to create an intriguing word that will drive media attention, buzz and new customers.

Let’s see, it’s half scuba, half snorkel. Take the first syllable of the first word and blend it with the second syllable of the second word and you get … SNUBA.

Tah dah. An original word and a new multi-million dollar industry that saved many mom and pop operators from bankruptcy and revitalized their business.

Want more examples of how to create new brand names,  first-of-its-kind products, programs and services, and a unique positioning/messaging that help you break out instead of blend in?

Check out these posts that feature additional ways to EARN your decision-makers’ favorable attention. 

Confused People Don’t Say Yes

Can We Really Win People’s Attention in 60 Seconds?

Want Sam to share her intriguing, inspiring and innovative insights with your group? Discover why her presentations receive raves from such clients as National Geographic, Intel, NASA and Capital One.  Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com to share your group’s priorities so Sam can customize a program for your event; or to arrange to consult one-on-one with Sam on your project.

Don’t Stick to Your Script

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

In exactly one month, August 28, it is the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s stirring “I Have a Dream” speech delivered 50 years ago on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

Many people feel King’s inspiring address was one of the greatest speeches given in the 20th Century.

It’s studied in classrooms, recited in speech contests, featured on t-shirts, and been praised by Nelson Mandela.

Did you know though … the original script didn’t even contain the words “I have a dream?”

King improvised that memorable phrase on the spot.

As journalist Rick Hampson points out in an August 13, USA TODAY article, King was “about 10 minutes into his talk when he … looked up.

He put aside his text for he had seen – or sensed – an opportunity.

Mahalia Jackson, who had performed earlier, cried out, ‘Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin!’”

So he did.

‘I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.

 It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

 It is a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:’

 ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

Having raised his eyes, King now had to raise his voice to be heard over the growing applause.

“I have a dream that some day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.’”

As Hampson points out, “It was as if once King was up there, gazing out, he could see a future many that day could not:

 ‘In Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.  I have a dream today.’

To his wife, Coretta, it seemed as if King had forgotten time itself, that his words flowed ‘from some higher place.’

He ended with the last line, ‘Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty – we are free at last.’

For a moment, the audience was stunned.  Silence.  Then, a rocking ovation.

Ralph Abernathy, King’s deputy and fellow preacher told him, ‘Leader, you swept today.”

Please look back over King’s inspired message for metaphorical insights into your own speaking style.

When you present to a group of people, do you always stick to your script?

Do you keep your head down and simply follow the prepared text?

Next time you speak … look up.  Raise your head and look into the eyes of your audience.

Instead of simply reading what’s in front of you, ask yourself, “What do THEY need to hear?  What could I say that would elevate them?  What dream could I share that would help them transcend their current circumstances?”

You miss in-the-moment opportunities to truly connect with people when you’re on automatic pilot.

Instead, have the courage of your convictions.  Believe in the beauty of your dreams.

Share your dream, a dream that raises everyone to a higher place.

 A dream that sweeps people up and inspires them to act in alignment with self-evident truths.

When will you be speaking next?

What are you going to do?

Stick to your script?

Or look up, see the opportunity, speak from the heart, and share a message that positively impacts people for years to come?

Got Intrigue? The Art And Business of Giving and Getting Attention

SpockI told a participant in my ‪#‎SXSW‬ workshop, “Congrats. Your pitch passed The Eyebrow Test®”

“What’s that?” he asked.

I said, “The Eyebrow Test®?” is a way to:

  1. BE more intriguing in the first 60 seconds when people are making up their mind whether you’re worth their time.
  2. TEST whether what you’re saying is confusing, boring or intriguing.”

He asked, “How did you come up with The Eyebrow Test®?”

I explained, “I had the privilege of emceeing the Maui Writers Conference for 17 years. We did something unprecedented at the time. We gave aspiring authors a chance to jump the chain of command and connect with top publishing insiders, face-to-face.

“What we didn’t anticipate was that no one knew how to pitch their project concisely and compellingly.

“In fact, one woman walked out of her pitch meeting with tears in her eyes. Concerned, I went over and asked, “Are you okay?”

“’No, I’m not okay. I just saw my dream go down the drain. I’ve been working on my project for three years. I put it on the table, he took one look at it and said, ‘I don’t have time to read all that. Tell me in 60 seconds what it’s about and why someone would be interested in it.’

“It’s so complicated, I didn’t know where to start. The longer I talked, the more confused he became. My big chance, and I blew it.”

She wasn’t the only one who didn’t get interest that year. Many other of our conference attendees became tongue-tied or tongue-twisted when trying to sell their project.

That night, I asked one of the senior editors for his input. He said, “Most of us have seen thousands of proposals. We make up our mind in the first 60 seconds whether something’s commercially viable and whether we’re interested.”

The next day, I stood in the back of the room and watched the pitches.

You know what? I could predict who was getting interest … without hearing a word being said.

How? By watching the decision-makers’ eyebrows.

If the decision-makers’ eyebrows were knit or furrowed; it meant they didn’t get what was being said.

Which meant the authors probably weren’t going to get a deal … because confused people don’t say yes.

If the decision-makers’ eyebrows didn’t move; it meant they were unmoved.

Which again meant the authors weren’t going to get a deal … because unmoved people don’t say yes.

If the decision-maker’s eyebrows were UP; it meant they were intrigued, they wanted to know more.

Which meant the authors had gotten their project in the decision-makers’ mental door.

Try it right now. LIFT your eyebrows. Do you feel intrigued, curious, like you want to know more?

That’s how you want people to feel from now on whenever they:

  • Hear your idea or elevator intro
  • Read the first paragraph of your blog, book or article
  • See your social media post
  • View the homepage of your website
  • Hear the opening of your pitch or presentation
  • Watch the first 60 seconds of your You Tube video

If people’s eyebrows go up when you describe what your idea, business, project or cause, you’re in business.

If their eyebrows crunch up. It’s back to the drawing board.

Or, as comedian George Carlin said, “What did we go back to before there were drawing boards?”

The good news is; if you test an upcoming communication and people’s eyebrows don’t go up; you can learn how to craft a more intriguing opening so they do go up.

There’s a step-by-step process for getting people’s eyebrows up … and it’s in my new book, “Got Your Attention? How to Create INTRIGUE and Connect with Anyone.”

The book outlines twenty different ways to get people’s eyebrows up – and keep them up. It is available April 6th.

Hope you purchase a copy – and hope it helps you get yes’s to your priority projects.

Are You Writing History or Reading It?

Intriguing quote from Scott Borchetta​, “If I ask for your attention, I’d better be ready for it” in this USA TODAY​ article from Brian Mansfield​.

Borchetta is the record label CEO who Mansfield says, “launched Taylor Swift into the pop-star stratosphere and helped turn acts such as Florida-Georgia Line​ , The Band Perry​ and Brantley Gilbert​ into headliners.”

Borchetta has a knack for headliners himself.

Similar to that attention-earning quote above, he also said, “There is no way to keep your thumb on the pulse unless you have your thumb on the pulse, and I think we have it.”

He’s referring to his new role as mentor to the 12 finalists on American Idol​.

As Mansfield points out in his fascinating article, American Idol’s audience is half of what it used to be. “Its past two winners hardly made a dent in the charts.”

So Borchetta’s mission is to make American Idol must-see TV again.

To do that, he must make it current and “real-world relevant,” as pointed out in Chapter 17 “Establish Real-World Relevance” in my new book Got Your Attention?.

The opening quote in that chapter is that, in an age of INFObesity and impatience we’re all in, as Eleanor Clift​ says, “a race to be relevant.”

It seems Borchetta is up to that challenge.

He says, “We’ve always been more about writing history and not reading it.”

What is a project you’re pitching? A product you’re launching? A cause or campaign you care about? An idea you’re trying to get funded or green-lighted?

Are you writing history … or reading it?

If you’re asking for people’s attention, how have you prepared yourself to be ready for it so you’re a good use of their time, mind and dime?

How have you made your priority current and relevant so people willingly, voluntarily, watch it, listen to it, support it, buy it and recommend it?

(Photo: Michael Becker, FOX)

You Can’t Say Anything in Two Minutes, Right?

graham mooreWho says you can’t say anything in two minutes? You can CHANGE LIVES in two minutes.

That’s what screenwriter Graham Moore did on Sunday night at the The Academy Awards while giving his acceptance speech for winning an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “The Imitation Game.”

As Dina Gachman of Forbes said, “Moore did something remarkable: He told the audience he tried to commit suicide as a teen because he felt different and awkward, and called upon any teenager out there who felt alone to remember there IS a place in the world for them. ‘Stay weird, stay different,’ Moore said. And with that, he won the night.”

Moore didn’t stop there. He went on to say that if people who felt they didn’t “fit in” continued to believe they had value and something to offer, someday, THEY might be up on the Oscar stage receiving an award and have the opportunity to pass on the same message and pay it forward.

Washington Post called Moore’s heartfelt acceptance speech, “the most moving moment of the whole show.”

I agree. The 2015 Academy Awards was watched by 36.6 million people. Surely Moore’s message resonated with thousands of people around the world, young and old, who feel they don’t belong.

It boggles my mind that several nominees said they didn’t think they were going to win, so they didn’t prepare anything.

Really?! They had a 1 in 5 chance of getting up in front of 36.6 million people and they didn’t honor that opportunity by spending a few moments thinking what they could say that would matter, that could make a difference?

How about you? Understand, “There’s no such thing as a throw-away speech.”

If you’re receiving an award, presenting an award, speaking on a panel, giving an introduction, delivering a short keynote … THEY ALL COUNT.

Honor the “privilege of the platform,” as former National Speakers Association President Naomi Rhode says.

As speakers, even if we only have a few minutes, we have an opportunity and an obligation to honor our audience and the moment by saying something relevant and resonant, something that adds value and elevates everyone in the room (along with those watching from afar or in the future.)

You might want to watch this clip and read the VOX post by Brandon Ambrosino to see how Moore intrigues and inspires …. all in under two minutes.

Tongue Fu! is #3 in South Korea!

TongueFu

Tongue Fu!’s popularity in South Korea, where it is the number 3 business book, and its use by entities ranging from the US Embassy in London and the US Navy,  has reminded me of the fact that the need for better communication is in no way limited by borders, especially with my  recent interview in Chosun Biz.

Its use by NASA reminds me that its not even limited by planet!

One of the most important  lessons that comes to mind which can be applied globally is that, “If you make someone pay for being unpleasant, you’re going to pay right along with them.”  Being able to turn conflict to cooperation is something that is important internationally, and this can be done through making small changes!

Little changes, like changing ‘but’ to ‘and’, can have a big impact on your communications. Looking for little ways to improve your communication is important wherever you are in the world!

The ability restate and reframe how you communicate is an important step towards mastering Tounge Fu in any language, and don’t forget, staying positive is just as important!