In the days before we became a connected planet, we learned from our parents and our elders. We listened to their stories; we learned how to hunt, fish, grow crops, cook and make pottery. We added our experience and made our own stories which we then taught to our children. Along the way we learned how to solve problems, make stuff, make stuff better and make stuff that pleased us. We also learned that when dealing with others if we did this, or we behaved this way, then we got that. So if we wanted others to listen to us, if we wanted them to buy our stuff or if we wanted them to tell others about us, we behaved and did things a certain way.
Standing out in a Sea of Sameness is where Explorers come to learn about storytelling, to learn how to solve problems, make new stuff and make stuff better and more pleasing by developing a mindset and following a process. It's about how to stand out from their peers.
Standing out in a Sea of Sameness's methodology is based on:
- Brand Light
- Design Thinking
You are the orchestra's director. It's your job to make your own kind of music. Music comes from stories and it's your job to seek out storytellers who will add to your music. When you talk with a business owner, a professor or someone in your future field, you have access to their story. If their story resonates with you, it becomes a chair in your orchestra. The music begins to blossom as the chairs in your orchestra diversify. As you add your own life experiences, your own stories, your music evolves into a symphony of its own.
My concept of branding as it relates to the individual, originates in Tom Peters' 1997 Fast Company article titled The Brand Called You: http://goo.gl/bDlG
Your brand is that gut feeling that people have about you. While you can't totally control how others feel about you, you can behave in such a way that people think favorably of you. How? Be a caring human being.
Personal branding (popular term) gurus teach by relating commercial branding terms like brand assessment, strategy, attributes, audit, positioning and target to the individual. They encourage the person to figure out who they are and who they want to be, create a public persona and then communicate it to a desired audience in a consistent manner. Most of what I've read on personal branding is excellent and if adhered to, will help the individual to establish their brand. For the Explorer who is busting their tail on course work, has a job and is involved in student organizations, it's a bit much. Afterall, you want to do all of that and still have a life, have fun.
My suggestions for building a desirable brand are much more simplistic, yet not so democratic. For instance, I suggest adopting three personal values. You get to choose two. I choose integrity (for you). Building a brand while you are still in school is based on:
- What you stand for
If you want people to listen to you and to take you seriously, then you need to build your story with intent. You need to move through your educational journey consciously creating experiences, meeting people, solving problems, devising ways to improve your life and learning from it all while preparing for the road ahead. The best way to do this is to embrace a mindset and process of your own.
Traditional* design thinking is about developing solutions based on a user's needs. Potential users you might encounter in school are your professors, classmates, internship companies, employers, school admin, social media friends etc. Perhaps the most important user is yourself. And your greatest need is to get the most out of your educational experience while preparing for the road ahead and standing out from your peers.
When it comes to design thinking, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, has created one of the most legible road maps. Use this guide to help build your own design thinking framework. Use it to tailor a process that works for you and use it now, do not wait until you graduate. Go here for Standford's d.school bootcamp bootleg: http://goo.gl/pMa5O
I look for elements of Storytelling, Design Thinking and Branding in the stories that I post-link out to on Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness' Wall. Use their ideas to spark your imagination, fuel your fire and begin to blaze your own trail.
I often refer to a segment of people as Old Adults. Here's my thinking, and it isn't anything other than: if you're not a young adult, you're an old adult. I think of it as a way to identify potential storytellers.
*Actually there isn't anything traditional about design thinking. It's becoming a big, gnarly and unruly mass of grayness. There are as many meanings for the term as the number of times that Lindsay Lohan has been arrested. We'll continue to follow Stanford University's d.school philosophy on design thinking.
Stop by the Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness Facebook page today. Thanks!