When Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library became an Internet star, hundreds or maybe thousands of people tried to imitate him. Almost overnight, I saw wine expert websites and blogs popping up everywhere.
I started getting followed on Twitter and FriendFeed by wine experts. This sudden rush of wine experts everywhere was incredible – However:
- Can I name one of those other wine sites for you? No!
- Can I name even one of the experts behind any of these wine sites for you? No!
That’s because Gary was the first – or rather, he was the first wine expert to maximise social media. By the way, I don’t drink alcohol and even I became aware of Gary’s work really quickly – such is his reach and influence. I’m a diet Coke person, which is a pity as Gary emailed me recently and offered to take me out for a beer. (Yes a beer, not wine!)
The power of being an original
I was at a football game earlier this year, when I noticed that there was one person wearing a bright yellow shirt, in an area of the stadium, where they were surrounded by about 5,000 people wearing red shirts. That one person was more noticeable by themselves, than the other 5,000 people combined.
Just like the person in the bright yellow shirt, true originality stands out. It commands our attention.
There’s no point in someone trying to be the next Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary himself only succeeded, because he allowed his own unique style and personality to come through.
So, does this mean that we can’t learn from pioneers? Of course not! Google was not the first search engine; they actually came to the party relatively late. However, they did have a uniquely valuable approach to search. It was their unique value that started them on the road to success. If they had simply copied what AltaVista or Yahoo were doing back then, they would have failed.
If we want to stand out or we want our business to stand out – we need to break away from what the crowd are doing. Yes, this requires a lot of confidence and courage, but the rewards can be amazing!