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February 25, 2011 / Man in the Mirror

How to be Unforgettable—Dare to be Different

Johnny Depp, one of Hollywood’s true rebels was recently quoted as saying; “I was always fascinated by people who are considered completely normal, because I find them the weirdest of all.”
If you feel that you don’t quite fit in with “normal people,” join the club.
I’ve always been a fish out of water.  I was the only kid at my school being raised by a single dad.  Later in college, I was the president of the only Jewish sorority at the University of Alabama.  When I started my business 18 years ago I was one of the only women running an ad agency catering to the entertainment industry.  Today, I am often the only woman in a meeting, and certainly the only one from Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Only doesn’t have to translate to lonely.  Over the years, I’ve come to realize that playing up what’s different about you, rather than trying to conform to the norm, is a winning strategy for work and life.  The more you stand out, the more you can fit in.
Different Is the New Black
Your unusual personality, outlook, appearance, or background—really, any attribute that sets you apart—is not a liability but an asset. That’s because being different gets you noticed, which is the first step to gaining influence.
In other words, different is the new black. Somehow we’ve broken through to an age where subterfuge, game playing, and conformity are shunned, and openness, transparency, and “keeping it real” are admired. Whether it leads to business success, a richly rewarding personal life, or both, you’ll never be sorry you unleashed your true self.
Go from Outsider to Trailblazer
Love yourself first. (And others will love you too!) Before you can expect your bosses and co-workers to accept and love who you really are, you have to accept who that person is.  Sure it can be frustrating and lonely to think or look differently from everyone else, but once you learn to accept yourself, others will follow.
Dare to be different. It seems like Corporate America dictates that people act a certain way or be labeled as (gasp!) weird or different. Yet the ones who put their reputations on the line for their beliefs — who stand out and live their truth in a big way — are celebrated.  Just remember that you can’t be unforgettable unless you dare to be different. If you strive only to blend in, you’ll see that opportunities will continue to pass you by.
Fit in—but do it your way. Dressing to intentionally shock won’t get you any points in the workplace. If your office dress code calls for business suits, wear the uniform, but do it in a way that is distinctive.  Cultivate a signature style.  (Not only will you express yourself, you’ll have a good conversation starter and a great way to meet other unique people like you.)
Stay current. The world is continuously evolving (and at a very fast pace), and we as individuals should be no exception. Always pay attention to how you can keep reinventing yourself to stay relevant in a world that is constantly changing.
Use your difference to make a difference. Those who are different are perfectly positioned to make a difference. It’s not the wallflower whose going to help a company go green, or the conformist who will invent a new business model. You’ll discover that you can create change—and be an inspiration—because you don’t blend in. The best way to change negative impressions or stereotypes is to do good work—both on the job and out in the world.
When you’re different from the norm, you already attract attention. Why not allow that attention to energize you rather than deflate you?  Why not let it take you somewhere you never dreamed you could go?  It’s time to set yourself apart from the crowd using what’s unique about you and make your mark this year!

Robin Fisher Roffer is a leading brand strategist and reinvention specialist.  Founder and CEO of Big Fish Marketing, she is the author of Make A Name For Yourself: 8 Steps Every Woman Needs To Create A Personal Brand Strategy For Success and The Fearless Fish Out Of Water: How To Succeed When You’re The Only One Like You. Learn about her Reinvent Yourself! Workshops here.

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