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Focus on the Big Idea


Imagine this camel wanted to be known for her ability to walk far without taking a sip. Is that what you see when you see her? (I don’t know if she is a she, but go with me here.) Imagine this camel wanted to be known for how tall she was. Are you feeling that? Nope – me either. But imagine that this camel wanted to be known as colorful, as standing out from the crowd. Could you believe that? I could. And all she’d have to do is make sure that every day, when she went to pick out her clothes, she picked colorful stuff.

Now you and I both know she doesn’t pick her outfits, but you get my point, right?

Touch Points

If you and I have spent time together on the phone, I hope you hung up and said, “man, that was a great call. I really appreciate his insight” If we’ve hung out over drinks and you walked away thinking about the conversation, I hope you thought, “man, that conversation really helped me.” In fact, even if we’ve not met in person or spent time on the phone, if the only interaction we’ve ever had has been here on this blog, I hope you’ve finished an article with a new insight.

Each one of those interactions is a touch point. A connection you and I have shared.

And I step into every one of those with an agenda. Not an evil agenda. Just a focused one. My wife says I don’t know how to be casual. She’s probably right.

I’ve been called intense. I’ve been called strategic. I’ve been called intentional. And I’ve been asked to relax.

But I consider every touch point critical in the development of not only our relationship, but in the development of my personal brand. Now to be clear, I don’t sell a lot of things, so you might think the whole branding discussion is a waste. But I don’t focus on brand development because I want to sell things. I focus on it for a different reason.

I want to own a search result in your mind

People who work on the web know that if you type a term into Google’s search engine, you’ll see search results. Honestly, everyone should know that. And if you want your site to appear high on the search results page, you need some search engine optimization (SEO). So we’re clear – this isn’t a post about search engine optimization. This is an article about the corners of your brain. When you search for “high performance” in your brain, I want to be on page 1. I know others will be there – athletes and others. But I know that it’s unlikely you’ll be able to connect with them in person. And you can reach out to me – via my contact page. So just getting on page 1 is enough for me.

To do that, I need to Focus on the Big Idea

The truth is that we don’t remember things well. I’ve told you before that people will forget most of what they hear in less than one hour. That’s insane but if you think about it, it’s true. I struggle to remember things that I only see or hear once or twice. So if we want to take a corner of someone else’s brain, we’re not going to just be able to add a little value once.

We remember things based on several iterations of exposure. That’s why it’s critical that we don’t try to get too nuanced. We need to find our “big idea” and then make sure we embed it into all our interactions. Personally, mine is “high performance” – in the realms of startups, presenting, WordPress, engineering management, new product development and writing. In every space I’m in, that’s the corner I want to take. So that’s what I focus on.

Three Tips for You

I could have titled this article “corners of your brain” but that’s the result and I want to give you three tips about the process.

1. Be intentional – I know people may call you intense. You don’t have to be intense to be intentional. I know some very strategic people who come across as very relaxed. But don’t let touch points go by unnoticed. Pay attention. And be fully present. Don’t try to do two or three things at once. Be there and focus on the impression you’re leaving.

2. Be generous – I find that people are far more likely to give up the corner in their brain when they feel like they’re getting something of value. Additionally, every time you’re generous, there’s a desire on the part of the other person to reciprocate. Instead of asking them to be generous, invite them to let you spend time in that little corner. How do I do that? I ask them for tweets, comments, reviews, references, etc. It’s a small thing. But if a person writes a review about my book on high performers, guess what? It’s likely I have started to take that corner.

3. Be consistent – Most importantly, you need to be consistent. Generosity and intentionality come pretty natural to me. It’s the way I’m wired. But I’m not wired for consistency. So I have to put programs, plans, or accountability in place to help me. If I want to write a lot of articles, I need groups that challenge me to write daily. If I want to answer good WordPress questions, I need groups that ask good ones, and let me add value daily. So find the ways that help you become more consistent in the delivery of your brand.

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