I am very pleased to provide you with an interview I conducted with Dorie Clark on her excellent new book, Stand Out. I listened to Dorie on several podcasts this past year and just had to get her to answer a few questions about her 5-star book. This book will help you if you are wanting to turn your expertise into a revenue source. Here’s the interview:
Kevin: What inspired you to write your new book, Stand Out: How to Find Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It?
Dorie: I wrote Stand Out because I wanted to ‘solve my own problem.’ As a self-employed marketing consultant, I knew the field was very crowded. I wanted to understand why some people were able to break through and gain recognition and build a following, and others weren’t. So I interviewed about 50 top thought leaders across a spectrum of different fields to try to understand those reasons and formulate them so that regular professionals could apply them in their own lives.
Could you give us a quick high-level summary of your background?
My path is a bit of a winding one, as I describe in my first book, Reinventing You. I went to graduate school in theology, and then took a job as a political reporter. When I got laid off, I shifted into working on the other side, as a press secretary for a gubernatorial campaign and as the New Hampshire Communications Director for a presidential campaign. When those campaigns unfortunately lost, I spent two years as the executive director of a small nonprofit, where I realized that running a nonprofit is exactly the same thing as running a small business. I thought: why not do this for myself? So I launched my consulting business in the summer of 2006 and haven’t looked back.
Who would benefit most from your book?
Stand Out is intended for people who want to get recognized for their expertise and make a mark in their industry, but maybe aren’t sure how to do so. Entrepreneurs recognize this instinctively – having a strong brand that you’re known for is what brings you clients. But even for employees working within a company, it’s very important to become recognized for your expertise, because that makes you far more valuable. If layoffs come, you’re the last to go, and if promotions are possible, you’re the first to be considered.
What are the most important elements, messages, or takeaways of your book that you’d like readers to know they will benefit from?
When I give talks about the topic, many people say, “This is great, but I can’t come up with a breakthrough idea” or “I’m not qualified to be an expert.” I think it’s really important to push back on that. Most experts do not have some amazing idea and then go execute it. If they waited for an idea to come to them, it’s likely they’d be waiting forever. Instead, there is power in action. If you just start exploring an idea or concept you’re interested in and care about, regardless of how much knowledge you have about it, oftentimes new ideas and perspectives will come to you. And that’s the start of true expertise.
Give us an interesting fun fact about your book or the research you conducted for your book.
One story I included in Stand Out was about Angela Lussier, a career coach who started her business with only $2000 in the bank and basically a month to get off the ground before it was time to pay her rent again. She hustled in an extraordinary way – giving more than 500 talks in her first year of business, with between 2-3 per day – to generate new business leads. I had never heard of her, but ended up on a panel discussion with her at Smith College, my alma mater, and when I heard her story, I thought: what?!?! I knew she was so extraordinary, I had to include her in the book.
Given the message of your book and your own experience as an entrepreneur, how would you describe an entrepreneurial mindset?
For me, the essence of an entrepreneurial mindset is that you don’t expect to be handed anything. If you’re literally an entrepreneur, you know that you can’t sit back and wait for customers to come to you. You have to take action and get noticed, to attract them to you. And if you’re an employee with an entrepreneurial mindset, you know you can’t just wait for the direct deposit to hit your bank account every two weeks. You aren’t entitled to money; you need to hustle and prove your worth and value to your customer (i.e., your employer). And the more you do that, the more valuable you become.
Where can people find out more about you and your new book?
On my website, dorieclark.com, I have more than 400 free articles that folks can check out. And I also have a free resource that I hope will be helpful. It’s a 42 page free workbook that I adapted from Stand Out, which walks people step-by-step through how to find and develop their own breakthrough ideas. You can download it here.
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