Tell Better Stories to Stand Out from the Crowd

stand out from the crowdIf you find yourself in a commoditized situation, tell better stories to stand out from the crowd.

Over the summer, I visited Detroit’s Eastern Market, a weekly farmers market. There were many local farmers selling their fresh fruits and vegetables. Some producers offered produce that was seemingly picked that morning. While others sold product that looked like it was one step away from the grocery stores, all packaged in plastic, complete with SKUs and the annoying stickers that can’t be easily composted.

In a market where everyone seemingly has the same goods, how do you stand out from the crowd?

Tell better stories.

While everyone else is standing at their stall, engage passersby.

While everyone else is hawking tomatoes, offer heirloom varieties.

While everyone else is selling vegetables, share organics.

At Eastern Market, I met Danny Lutz, a local farmer from Yale, Michigan. At first glance, his small stall had similar vegetables as all of the others. But, as you approached his tables, he greeted you warmly. Examining his produce, you could tell it was different. It was organic. And fresh. And the heirloom tomatoes were big and ripe and juicy.

It was then that Danny explained about his tomatoes and their heritage. He continued on about his farming practices and the soil and his new tractor. He even invited the family up to the farm and offered to let my kids ride on the tractor.

I was hooked.

After a conversation with Danny, you understood why his business card says, “Passionate Organic Farming.”

Of all of the vendors, and there were hundreds, he told the best story.

In your business, when you offer similar products and services as your competition, what story are you telling? What messaging do you use to differentiate yourself?  What are you known for in the marketplace?

Telling your story more effectively than the other guys helps you earn the deal, makes the sale, and gets the girl.

What’s your story?

And those heirloom tomatoes? They were some of the best I’ve ever had.

About the Author:  Todd Brockdorf, is the author of Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World – (Harrogate Publishing 2012)  

He works with organizations, leaders, and frustrated professionals to stand out from the crowd. Connect with  Todd on LinkedInTwitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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3 Powerful Questions to Stand Out from the Crowd

questionTo learn continuously, ask questions constantly. This is the very cornerstone of learning.  Many people already ask a lot of questions; some to the point of annoyance. However, those who stand out from the crowd ask a better quality of questions.

In today’s answer-oriented society, we have a dearth of good questions. We want information now, in digestible, low-calorie, high-fiber chunks. If the answer cannot be found on the first page of Google results, then it doesn’t exist or isn’t worth asking.

But it’s ok. It’s not your fault. Society teaches us to be Average and average people ask average questions. Average people ask “what?” or “when?” The socially inclined ask “who” (as in, “Who will see me there?”).

The Better than Average, those who stand out from the crowd, ask a different type of question. Their questions begin with “how?” or “why?” They probe for a deeper understanding of the issue. They want a greater context to provide better meaning. They want answers that aren’t readily found on the Internet. And sometimes, the answers they seek are high in fat, but a good fat, like Omega-3 found in salmon.

3 Most Powerful Questions

The Better than Average use the following 3 most powerful questions to get to the root of the issue:

  1. Why?
  2. So what?
  3. Who cares?

Once you can answer those questions, you will have a deeper understanding of your subject.


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
Author, Speaker, Consultant
[email protected]
Download Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World

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Embrace the Off-Season

Those who stand out from the crowd embrace the off-seasonNo matter what your chosen profession, chances are, you have an off-season – a time where work slows down. Those who stand out from the crowd, embrace the off-season.

If you work in a business office, maybe it is around the end of December. If you are in retail, maybe it is around February. If you are a professional football player, it is the summer.

We all have periodic times when our work activity is lighter than others.

What do you do during your off-season?

The Better than Average find a way to embrace their off-season for good. They turn their down time into productive time. They make mole hills into mountains. They work out what needs to be shaped up.

6 Activities the Better than Average Do to Embrace the Off-Season

If you are at a loss as to what to do during your off-season, here are 7 items you can do to get you started.

1.   Strategic Planning Create it, tweak it, dust it off, it doesn’t matter. Personal or professional. Homemaker or home builder. Coach or contributor. We can all have a strategic plan for our businesses, ourselves, and even our families. Get out the crystal ball and project the future – three to five years ahead. How will “it” be if you could have it any way you wanted?

 2.   Annual PlanningAnnual planning is the “let’s-look-at-the-year-ahead-of-us” type of planning. Take those actions from the strategic plan due the next year. Develop greater detailed actions, if needed, to reach the targets in the strategic plan. Add any new items that should be accomplished during the year. As they say, “You can see clearly now, the rain is gone. You can see all obstacles in your way.”  You’re singing now, I can tell. Stop singing and ask yourself, what do I deserve to accomplish this coming year?

 3.   Financial PlanningAnother way of stating financial planning is budgeting. Money. Cash. Payola. Once the annual plan is completed, how much money do you need to accomplish it? Will you be breaking the bank?

4.   Training and Development – Like athletes exercising their muscles, the Better than Average exercise their minds during the off-season. Take classes. Read educational books (click here or here, depending on your preference). Attend seminars and conventions. Learn new skills and refine old ones to stand out from the crowd. What did you learn today?

5.   Network – It is the perfect time to network with others in the field, as everyone tends to have the same off-season. Connect with past coworkers. Reach out to recruits. Say “hi” to the new guy. Who do you need to meet?

 6.   Complete the Odds and Ends – What have you been putting off? Go through the stack of mail. Cross off a To Do item that is starting to go stale and crusty. Call your mother (hi Mom!). No matter how small, you will feel immediate relief of one nagging pain. Take that first step. What do you need to complete today?


(image courtesy of Mr. Cheer or Die at Viking Underground)


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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The 8 Commandments of How to Write Email

How to Write EmailSince email began to rise in popularity in the early 1990’s, it still seems that even in its young adulthood of its 20’s, people still do not understand proper email etiquette.

Despite what Facebook has to say about the impending death of email, it will still be around for some time. We might as well learn how to use it properly.

How to write an email may seem remedial for some, but apparently there are plenty of people out there that still need a reminder.

The 8 Commandments of How to Write Email

  1. Thou shalt not use email as an urgent medium – If you need to get in touch with someone, either pick up the phone or send an instant message if you see they are online. Email should be checked twice per day – noon and 4PM (assuming you work 9ish to 5ish). That way, you can focus on your work output and projects. What is the proper communication medium?
  2. Email is not thy job – Unless you are in customer service responsible for responding to customers on behalf of your company, managing your inbox is not your primary job function. Close Outlook/Notes/web browser and get your work done. What should you really be doing?
  3. Thou shalt use the CC field for notification only – Treat it as an FYI. Assume that someone will not see the message if they are in the CC field. Some people even filter their messages so that when they are in the CC field, it goes to a separate, less viewed box. In which field should this recipient be placed?
  4. Thou shalt not use email as a conversation medium – If the email string goes beyond three emails, pick up the phone or send an instant message, especially if the “conversation” is between two or three people. The tit for tat back and forth clutters inboxes and often takes longer than a quick call. How can I get more done faster?
  5. Thou shalt not send a thank you email – If your email body only contains only the words “Thank You”, do NOT send the message. “Thank You” is implied by the sender of the original message. Save the storage. Bite the bits. If there is more than a simple “thank you”, fine, send the message. But please do so cautiously. What value are you adding to your messages?
  6. Thou shalt use the Reply All button sparingly – Consciously think about who must see it, who might like to see it, and who doesn’t need to see it. Those thoughts translate to the To field, the CC field, and the Remove from Message button. Who really needs to get the message?
  7. Thou shalt use Read Receipts sparingly – We have enough online stalkers already through social media. We don’t need another one through our inboxes. If you must have “proof” that your recipient saw your message (say an RFP response), use the read receipt. But, remember that some systems do not reply to the read receipt. Or, some people refuse to send out receipts. Why do you continue stalking?
  8. Speed is not the response – Expect a 24-48 hour turnaround to your message. If that is too much of a lag, find a different medium. If the response is quicker, consider yourself fortunate. Or, the recipient was bored. Do you absolutely, positively got to have a reply now?



What commandments must thy obey most?



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Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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What myths do you still believe?

Christopher ColumbusDo you still believe Christopher Columbus “discovered” America? Do you still believe in the Tooth Fairy? Does Santa Claus exist?

I hate to pop your petunia, but he didn’t, it was your mom or dad, and sorry, but no.

We all have mythological knowledge that we have to unlearn – some told by our parents, some taught by our schools, some heard from our cousin’s friend’s uncle.

The question is when do we wake up, realize we’ve been told false information, and write our own conclusions?

Do you still believe that you cannot get that promotion? Do you still think that you are not leadership material? Do you still imagine it’s too late to follow your dreams?

With today’s technology and abundance of opportunities, barriers to entry are lower than ever before.

If you need an app for that, outsource it to a freelancer.

If you desire to be a news reporter, start filming.

If you want to raise chickens, they’ll deliver them through the mail.

Stop making excuses. If you really wanted to do it, you would make the time. You would self-select some activity already in your schedule and stop doing it.

Maybe you would wake up a half-hour earlier and turn off the TV a half-hour earlier the night before. Maybe you would forgo that extra piece of cake and walk an extra 20 minutes. Maybe you would read a book instead of status updates.

What myths do you tell yourself to “justify” your behaviors?

If a one-armed hippopotamus attack survivor can raise three kids, what’s your excuse?

If you want to be a writer, write. If you want to be a speaker, speak. If you want to be a comedian, get on stage.

There is no substitute for doing. There is no cure for inaction. There is no progress in sitting still.

If you want to change your lot in life, take that first step.



How did you work on your dream today?



For a white paper on 11 Easy Ways to Stand Out from the Crowd, shoot me an email and you score it for free!


(image courtesy of etchasketchist on Flickr)


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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