100 Ways to Succeed #28:


I suppose I’ve said this before, but I’m willing to suffer the charge of repetition. I’ve just finished seminars with 500 law partners, then a couple of hundred investment bankers. The people I addressed are what I call “scary smart.” And they’ve missed some kids’ soccer games … that is, 12-hour days are the norm. But “talent” and outrageously hard work are not enough! Why? Because there are a lot of talented people around who work long days.

So what’s the secret-differentiator? Marketing guru Seth Godin said, “If you can’t state your position in eight words, you don’t have a position.” I choose to interpret this not as a “marketing tip,” but as a profound statement. I spent my two seminars hammering on “Remarkable Point Of View” … or R.POV. Or, stealing from Seth, R.POV8 … a Remarkable Point Of View … captured in 8 words or less.

Seth, however, must make room for Jerry Garcia: “You do not merely want to be the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.” And for founder Tom Chappell, of Tom’s of Maine: “Success means never letting the competition define you. Instead you have to define yourself based on a point of view you care deeply about.”

The problem: Developing, maintaining, and refreshing a R.POV is excruciatingly difficult. I’ll leave that to later; right now my point is simply to insist that smarts and hard work, even effective hard work, is not enough. The query that must never be far from your consciousness: IS WHAT I’M UP TO REMARKABLY DIFFERENT, AND CAN IT BE CAPTURED IN SIMPLE, COMPELLING LANGUAGE?

What we’re talking about here may explain in part John Kerry’s loss. A few weeks before the election, a Washington Post analyst, Kenneth Baer, penned: “To win this race, Kerry needs to stop focusing on Election Day and start thinking about his would-be presidency’s last day. What does he want his legacy to be? When sixth-graders in the year 2108 read about the Kerry presidency, what does he want the one or two sentences that accompany his photo to say?”

Presumably those two sentences would have maxed out at eight words!

Tom Peters posted this on November 17, 2004, in Success Tips.
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