Initial Thoughts: Stand Out by Dorie Clark
When I saw Stand Out by Dorie Clark in the bookstore, I decided to buy it without reading the book description. Many of you know that I do that a lot. The book wasn’t quite what I expected, but it turned out to be a great book. When I saw the title, I focused on the words breakthrough idea. It was my thinking that it would give me more insights and information on how to spot ideas while reading a book.
That is not what the book is about. It is about finding the idea that you will use as a basis to create a platform where you can become an authority on the subject.
What is Stand Out by Dorie Clark About?
At the beginning of Stand Out, I noticed a quote, which summarizes my beliefs about ideas and how to elevate them into a bigger idea. And it says what I have been saying for some time now.
“Most recognized experts achieved success, not because of some special genius, but because they learned how to put disparate elements together to present ideas in a new and meaningful way. That’s a skill anyone — with hard work — can practice and learn. And more and more, it’s essential. 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.”
Stand Out: How to Find Breakthrough Ideas and Build a Following Around It by Dorie Clark is especially helpful to those who want to become public speakers. The book demonstrates how you can build a reputation as an expert in your field. It gives you a platform to spread your ideas. Thought leaders are known for their ideas, and thought leadership is about advancing your ideas. Share your ideas and build your network to make yourself employable. You have to add value to others, but how do you do that? You solve real problems, make a difference in a way that creates value for others.
Finding Your Big Idea
Finding the next big idea is about having a questioning mindset. Broaden your perspective, and think critically about how you can add value to the conversation. Every field and niche have guiding assumptions.
The most successful people do not think the way others do. They do not follow the rules. They often ask, “What if? Why not? Is there a better way?” Look at the assumptions that you are making mindlessly, start challenging those assumptions. Test if your belief is accurate.
Assume the role of an outsider, look at how you do things your field. Are there more productive ways of doing things? Are the best practices the best practices, or are they outmoded? Your responses could give you insights into where to find your big idea. To challenge the status quo, you have to hack the process.
Questions to Ask to Hack a Process
- What are others overlooking?
- What are the assumptions underlying your field? Have you questioned them?
- What questions do people new to the industry ask?
- What do people in the field think is impossible to do?
- What research project, if you successfully undertook, would change the field and the way it operates?
The responses to the above questions are a way for you to discover your big idea. To develop a reputation as an authority, you have to know which trends are shaping the field and industry. You can do this by talking to people who would know, reading trade journals, and attending industry conferences.
When reading any book such as this one, are you reading it so that you get ideas that you can apply at once? That is what I try to do. As I was reading Stand Out, I was thinking:
How can I help professionals to prepare for the future? How can I provide real solutions to upcoming problems? My response to the questions is to stay on top of in-demand skills, so I can recommend relevant books for them to read.
How can you take advantage of the opportunities that you discover in your field? Ideas seldom come to you from a vortex. You could rely on research and experience.
- Ask good questions
- Challenge assumptions
- Listen to your instincts
One of the best ways to become a thought leader is to build a knowledge base in a narrow subject area. Find the niche that you want to own, a place where you can add value. You can be a big fish in a small pond. Who needs your skills and your approach? Change your context and compete in a space where you are unique. You can add unique ideas to the conversation. How can you take your expertise to the next level? Create your own personal curriculum.
Think through which skills you want to learn, and how you can obtain them. Become more knowledgeable by reading books. Get your hands dirty by applying what you learn. That is how you gain experience and become known. Soon the Halo Effect will happen.
Because people know that you are good and known in one area, people automatically assume that you are brilliant overall.
Reflect on the following questions:
- How can you have an impact on the world?
- How can you offer data that is new, accurate, and revealing?
- What story can you tell that is not being told?
- How can you conduct research that does double duty – help you to develop professionally as well as build your network?
Some of the best ideas come to you when you see things in a different way. Combine ideas in exciting new forms. Practice Janusian thinking, conceive something and its opposite at the same time sparks creative insight. Janus is the two-faced Roman god.
Look at problem from multiple points of view at the same time. Borrow a technique and apply it to a new question. You can see connections and insights that are invisible to others.
- How can you fill the gap between what is available now to what people need?
- What are some problems in your field that do not have very good solutions?
- How can you tweak the core ideas to make them relevant to your field? That is taking ideas from other fields?
- How can you apply the principles from one field to another?
Live at the intersection of multiple worlds. To become an expert, you have to understand the core principles and be able to explain them. In helping others to learn the skills needed for future jobs, I have to be able to explain the hidden structures or rules in the field.
Create a Framework
How does the framework work? Blend theory with practice. Take complex ideas and make something out of them. Help others to think about a topic in a new way. An example is me using a reading change to learn new skills. Create a system to spread your ideas. How can you make it easy for others to spread your ideas? Build a strategy to spread the word about your idea.
Have to Build a Following Around Your Idea
To build a following, you have to build your network. Who would you include in your network of contacts? A way to build a following is to interview influencers. Follow up with them after the Interview. To get someone to like you immediately, find common ground. You can use status to make connections. Get deeply involved in one group.
Build Your Audience
Once you have a group of people who will share your idea, it’s time to build your audience. Create a platform for your message. You could blog on your own blog or guest blog. Some of the platform you can guest blog include:
- Harvard Business Review
- Mash able
Go where your audience hangs out. You could also write a book.
- Where are the people who need to hear what you have to say?
- How can you reach more people?
- How can you amplify your message?
- How do you expand your audience to let your idea penetrate a noisy world?
Start the process by listening to the issues of the day, then formulate your point of view. Share your thoughts on your blog and social media. Once you develop a following, expand your concept in book form.
Build a Community
Find a way to connect people who can benefit from knowing each other. What problem do you want to solve? Organize people so they can connect and learn from each other. Go beyond your own experience.
Final Thoughts: Stand Out by Dorie Clark
Stand Out by Dorie Clark is an important book, especially for those who want to become public speakers. There are lots of gems hidden between the pages of the book.
Some of the Books Mentioned in Stand Out by Dorie Clark
The Myths of Creativity, David Burkus
Where Good Ideas Come From, Stephen Johnson
I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Ramit Sethi
In Search of Excellence, Tom Peters
The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman
To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink
The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss
The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great IdeasWhere Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of InnovationI Will Teach You To Be RichIn Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run CompaniesThe 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that LastsTo Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving OthersThe 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich